Sunday, September 5, 2010

Week 3 in Bandjoun

DISCLAIMER: the views expressed are my own and not of Peace Corps.

So as not to completely discriminate against other wildlife here in Cameroon, I decided to post a couple of pictures of animals that are not birds! Both are from Bafia since I haven't managed to get one of the incredible butterflies here in Bandjoun to hold still! At left is one of the grasshoppers that used to hang around the house we used for training. The amazing pattern and green/yellow color on these guys really blew our minds when we first noticed them.

The second exhibit is what thanks to the BBC website I now know is a Common Agama Lizard. I was calling this a rainbow lizard since it's not in my ACommon Agamafrican wildlife book. It's not a very good picture since they were very skittish... but that was another example of the incredible biodiversity here. There are also all kinds of organisms that aren't quite so nice (schistosomiasis, filariasis, malaria, etc. etc.) yet it's all part of the tropical ecosystem!

This week, I managed to get 65% of the computers in the lab working, plus internet and the printer operational. Then a hard disk crashed on one of those that had been working. Oh well. It's amazing that they work at all: they are PIIs and PIIIs mostly with Windows 2000 stickers on their cases. The power was blinking about every 5 minutes at one point, causing all of them to reboot. I'm happy we have as many working as do at this point!

Two of us volunteers also found a nice hike here in Bandjoun - actually near a tiny village called Kamgo. It's a short walk up avery steep hill, but it quickly levels off and has some amazing scenery. The camera battery was dead, unfortunately, but to describe it: the road follows a ridge, and you can see first Bandjoun nestled in a valley, then you see green hills rolling one after another without a house or field in sight. Plus, I managed to add one more year bird: a Black-shouldered Kite! This little raptor was kiting for us along the road, and even sat long enough to let me take a picture with Lindsey's camera.

There was some standard fair (though gorgeous birds) up there: Northern Double-collared Sunbirds, Fire-crowned Bishops, Baglafecht Weavers. En route, we even found magnificent Black-and-White Casqued Hornbills and another Guinea (Green) Turaco! It seems that you just need to get a few hundred yards away from any population of people, and the great birds just fall out of the sky. Literally!

Back to reality... tomorrow is the first day of school at the high school. I will be teaching two blocks of 2-hour classes for the Seconde level (equivalent of 10th grade). I don't have a text book or a scheme of work (yet), so the plan is to do introductions, outline the classroom rules and do some high-level review what they (should) already know. According to the syllabus, they should know stuff like basic network architecture, how to do binary math, and how to format text in Word. This year they will learn how to use Windows commands, basic preventative maintenance tasks, hardware and software architecture, and what computer science consists of. It's definitely my hope that that program will be as much fun for them as for me, but... well...

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