The end of week one is also the end for three of the Volunteers. The thirty nine of us started along the same path but, quite obviously, the peace corps is not for everyone.


Week one brought us to the town of Bagante, Cameroon for 11 weeks of intensive (6 days a week, 8 hours a day) language, culture and technical training. The cultural and technical training is easy enough since most of us have experience traveling to different parts of the world and have at least a bachelor’s degree (most have Master’s, one even has a PH.d.).  For me the bulk of the training is towards language.


Since I didn’t speak a lick of French (during our evaluation, I went into the room, the trainer said ‘ca va’, and I got up and left), I was put in the novice-low class with my fellow French deficients. Every day we would leave the comfort of our host homes, under our mosquito nets, and try for hours to speak French to each other and our ‘formatrice’. One of the first days after trying for 5 minutes to tell one of my classmates the time (made even more difficult because they use military time), I stood back and said this is ridiculous.


But after a few days, it’s starting to take me less time make a sentence and understand simple phrases that are said to me. I’m starting to feel like yea maybe I can do this. Maybe I can learn to speak fluent French, live in Cameroon for 27 months and spread American goodwill.


But not everyone has felt that way so far. With so many adventurers and intelligently curious individuals; Living 27 months in what we consider poverty and perhaps even alien, is not the idea of living life. The three that left are smart, motivated, successful people that have traveled and seen more places than I may ever see, but they made the right decision on leaving the Peace Corps and they will be missed. One in particular was one of my favorite people in the program.


She was from Texas but had lived in Australia for the last 9 years and although just a few years older than me, had been to 50 countries. I could sit there and listen to her stories all day, and she loved telling them. Although she departed early than I wanted, I have a feeling we’ll meet up again someday.


So here I am, after week one of training, speaking some broken French. So far, things have been harder than I thought, and easier than I thought, but I have a feeling they’re going to get harder still.


Another one of my favorite people has adopted this quote for her journey in the Peace Corps and I think it’s appropriate now, ‘This journey is not about you, but what can be done thru you, and then, you will see this journey is about you.’