I suppose COS (our Close of Service conference) is sort of like prom for Peace Corps Volunteers. You’re not allowed to go until ‘graduation’ is imminent, it’s held at a fancy hotel, and most of the people who attend are hoping to get laid. The fact that we actually held an 80’s Themed Prom on the first night of the conference only corroborates my point. Although to be fair, unlike our COS conference, my actual prom didn’t include seminars on “Life After Peace Corps” and “Resume Writing”. Maybe I would have gotten more out of it if it had. Anyway, the point of my convoluted and completely inarticulate analogy is this: COS, after all the hype and anticipation, was over-rated. Likely explanations for this include:
- My general crankiness
- The inescapable presence of 35 Americans who are used to spitting fish bones on the ground trapped in one fancy hotel
- My UTI (TMI?)
- The distinct lack of cheese at the nightly buffets
I suppose what it really all comes down to is my tendency to be easily overwhelmed. This experience is almost over. The fact that I am mostly ready for it to be over doesn’t make that fact any less surprising, or any easier to handle. In a little over three months I’ll leave Cameroon. I will spend a month grazing my way across three European countries. And then I will go back to the America that I have missed/defended/criticized/failed completely to explain multiple times in any sort of realistic terms throughout the last 2 years. And I will have to get a job. But let’s not talk about that. COS wasn’t a total bust. The following made it mostly worthwhile:
- Real mattress!
- Co-ed 80’s prom dress swim relay (Not officially sanctioned by the hotel folks, but perhaps one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed. The booze had nothing to do with the level of hilarity, I can assure you.)
- 80’s Prom Night (You would not believe the fashion gems you can find in the markets here. Of course the prom took place before the co-ed swim relay.)
- Final Cameroonian performance of ‘Bobby Glitter’, formerly ‘Bobby Trivia’, formerly ‘The Cane Rats’—stay tuned for news of the stateside reunion tour, 2013
- Perhaps the most exciting of all—finally getting my exit date. I have loved and hated and grown from and cherished this experience more than I can ever describe. But holy fucking hell. On December 18th, 2009 it will be officially over! Ciao Cameroon. I’ll be that girl in Rome with the very wide eyes and the goat cheese on her face. That is, if you can see around the wine bottle.
But before that…
I want to finish a few things up around Fundong, and try to accomplish one last project. Recently the ABADU Children’s Library was able to move to a new building. I’ve been doing some work there over the last few months and it’s a lovely place. Kids are actually coming! But I want more of them to come. So I’m hoping to do the ‘World Map Project’. Have you heard of this? People all over the world organize community members to paint huge world maps, generally on the walls of schools. I want to do it here, both as a way of increasing public awareness of the library, and as a useful resource for students—and anyone else who wants to think about the world and their place in it. The project is relatively inexpensive—we can do it for about $250. That will buy the paint and brushes and the few other random supplies necessary. All the work will be done by local elementary and high school students, me, and one or two other Peace Corps Volunteers. We want to paint the week of Oct 26th—30th. Can you help?
If you’re willing, you can mail a check to fellow volunteer Jess’s mom in North Carolina by Oct 10th. She’ll get the money to us. I’ll send out her address to the folks that I know read this blog. Anyone else who is willing to give a few bucks for the love of geography, please email me for the address! The folks at the library are really excited about this idea. And so am I. Thanks, y’all.
See you in four months!