In Bafang, Cameroon

I arrived at the Douala airport yesterday morning, August 14, at 5 am. It’s now almost 7 pm the next day, August 15, and I write this from the mission in Bafang where we are staying. Today was supposed to be the official first day of our teacher training program, but since it was actually a holiday here, we changed the plan from a morning training (since everyone was actually at church this morning for the Assumption of Mary) to an afternoon get-together. Since I’d planned for today’s first meeting to be a time to get to know each other, it worked out quite beautifully to spend time together in the afternoon. It is a small group–just three teachers, one French teacher, one English (as a foreign language) teacher, and one math teacher, plus the coordinator, who is a teacher herself, and Jacqueline, Olivier (her son and the main presence of Aumazo here in Cameroon), and myself. I wasn’t sure if I’d be using my original plan, which included a good bit of InterPlay as a way to create the Circle of Community I had intended for day 1, or whether we’d just spend the time casually talking, but I found that the InterPlay forms just made sense as a way to get beyond the formality of meeting each other while sitting stiffly in a circle. So, after our original introductions and sharing, I had everyone stand up, stretch, and we jumped into InterPlay–first, we shared our names again, with a gesture, and then we did three rounds of Babbling, and finally I had people use the “I could tell you about” form, where each person had a partner and said back and forth to each other things that they could tell about. For example: Person 1: I could tell you about… my trip here to Bafang. Person 2: I could tell you about… the trees in my village. Person 1: I could tell you about my daughter who is leaving for college. Person 2: I could tell you about the students I teach. (etc.)  It was beautiful to watch the group connect and get more comfortable, and by the end of our time together they were saying things like – “This felt like being a kid in elementary school again” – “I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying, and it was really interesting to hear what I was going to say” – “I love to have fun, and this was an opportunity to have fun.” I connected what we had done to what we would be doing with the students next week, and they were very open and enthusiastic.

 

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