As much as I like them and I want to be like them, they will never consider me an African. As much as they like me and admire my whiteness, all of the stereotypes and ideas they have about other Occidentals they have met are attached to me. Some of them are positive and some negative, but they keep me from even being ‘one of them’.

I can see this when I go to the market. If I am there with a Cameroonean friend and I am arguing prices, they will usually never try to help me.

I went to the market with my counterpart, and I was arguing the price of three big pineapples. The guy wanted me to pay 2000 franks. I told him no way, then I looked at my counterpart and he just looked at the guy and said buy them if you want them. I eventually got it down to 1300 franks, but no thanks to him.

This is a sad realization, because the community of Bangou has really taken me in and shown me great hospitality, but when they see me, they still see a priviledged white man from the US who is here for an extended visit.

This isn’t the case with everyone. Although my counterpart and I work together, we’re not very close. Most of my time and work in the community is done with Aladji; He is someone that is truly a friend. Many times he has taken my side or stood up to someone on my behalf, even to gendarmes or people of importance.

That is a part of Peace Corps work that can’t ever show up in the quarterly reports. The personal relationships that mean more than ‘work’ and where great change comes from, cannot be reported. However, from friendships like the ones I have with Aladji, great change will come. Too bad if they others just see a rich white guy.

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