The first few days in Philadelphia for staging were helpful. I got to meet the 38 others who would be going to Cameroon with me.


I ate a Philly cheese steak which wasn’t even that good, and saw liberty plaza where the founders wrote the constitution, but none of that was very interesting.


There is an eclectic mix of people in the group, but most are young, white, with somewhat affluent parents and a bit of a hippie streak. Throw in a married couple, at least one gay guy, although I think there’s really two and maybe even three, 2 blacks and two Hispanics including myself, and that is the Peace Corps Cameroon group.


The first day was spent getting to know each other. A few of us went out as a group looking for a bar to drink some beers, but while passing one, someone noticed some poker tables. Me and another volunteer broke away from the group and spent the next few hours playing in this possibly illegal poker game. The other volunteer went out in about 3 hours, and it took me about 4 hours and one error in judgment to go out (he slow-played the flush).


Next day we spent the day talking about safety and about how the first few days after getting to Cameroon will be. This went on from 8am to 6pm after which we went out to dinner then returned back to the hotel with some beers. We had a little party at one of the girls room then went to bed. Nothing too exciting, although the girl and I spent quite a bit of time talking. We both have a funny feeling that we’ve met before, but we’re not sure where. She went to the University of North Texas, so it’s quite possible.


What strikes me most, other than most of us hiding slight nervousness with alcohol, is how much we all think alike as a group. On more than one occasion I’ve had someone I’m talking to finish my sentence with exactly what I was going to say. Most of us agree on the intrinsic good of helping people, traveling the world to get a better sense of self and others and success not being measured with material positions.


I love my group so far, and I’m looking forward to learning the language and being part of Cameroon!