I’ve heard the Ambassador like to call us the true ambassadors to Cameroon. I think that’s an interesting way of describing our work as PCVs.
Ambassadors protect the interest of their country abroad, and advance their political and economic views and interest. They meddle in foreign politics to make sure that the people in power are friendly to the interest of their country.
Our work as volunteers is nothing like that. In fact, we are asked to stay out of politics.
However, often the title fits the role, and we are able to represent America, a benevolent, kind, generous power who wants to help the inhabitants of other countries. This is inherently political.
Often, I get to feel like a local Ambassador in Bangou. For example, I went to the Student Congress, which is a group of Bangou students who are all over the country, and sometimes in other countries, and they stay in Bangou for two weeks, study, play and work on their village together. When visitors come to see them, they ask them to say a small speech.
This is usually a pain for me because impromptu speeches in French are not my forte, but this particular night, I was inspired. I told the students, that true development will not happen at the mayors office, it doesn’t happen at the Senate in Yaoundé, it doesn’t happen at the Embassy’s; it happens here, in meetings like theirs. I encouraged them not to forget their village, continue learning and to aim to make Bangou a better village, and it will happen.
It felt like a speech an Ambassador would make, and I think at that moment it was true, we were representing America and the best America has to offer.