Three-Months Deep: ‘Roots Highlights from the First Half

February 18, 2013

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‘Roots is half-way through its 6-month stay here in Cameroon, and we’d love to take this mid-way marker as an excuse to share with you some highlights from our time here thus far. Uy, time travels fast!

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‘Roots in Fondjomekwet

A ‘Roon Reunion: Back in Cameroon for the second time feels so good. After spending an enriching and challenging semester abroad in 2011, we weren’t sure that it would be possible to top that experience during this post-grad go-around. While this time is certainly different, we’ve rediscovered the many aspects of this country that we had grown to embrace, and we have also learned so much more as we continue to get to know Cameroonian culture on whole new levels. Every day is an adventure—a learning experience and constant reminder of what continues to draw us to this culture and environment.

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Christophe Tekengne, director of GIC Sondason

Meeting Our Mentors: Getting to know the people behind the scenes—from those who make the GIC Sondason cooperative operate to the organic farmers who produce the coffee purchased by Utamtsi—has been an exciting and insightful experience. Not only have they truly made us feel included in this community, but they have also been so gracious in sharing with us their knowledge about the integration of environmental, social and economic factors in the context of Cameroonian culture. There are no better guides through the inner-workings and community dynamics of culture than actual Cameroonians.

Coffee purchasing underway.

Coffee is purchased from a farmer

Coffee Harvesting and Fair Trade Practicing: From spending a couple of days walking through the coffee harvesting, de-pulping, fermenting and drying of coffee beans to joining Utamtsi as it conducted its annual coffee purchasing from organic farmers, it’s been such an incredible and educational experience to witness the whole coffee process and real fair trade practices in action.

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Dickinson-in-Cameroon students and faculty pose with Catholic University of Central Africa administrators in Yaounde, Cameroon

Dickinson-in-Cameroon, Version 2013: Twelve new students of the Dickinson-in-Cameroon program arrived at the Nsimalen airport on January 21st to begin their 5-month study abroad in Yaoundé. ‘Roots helped out with the week-long student orientation as they became acquainted with this intensely new culture and environment. It has been wonderful to see the strides they have already taken as individuals and as a group.

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Rachel and Grace explain the purpose the school garden to high school students in Fondjomekwet

English and a Garden: Working with high school students at the Lycée de Fondjomekwet has been a great opportunity to introduce environmental education to the community youth. ‘Roots volunteers one day a week to teach two classes of English at the high school and one day a week to the development of a school garden. Each student at the school is required to participate in “Travail Manuel (TM),” during which students complete tasks to help maintain the classrooms and school grounds. ‘Roots is using this project to unite TM with environmental protection and organic agriculture education. The hope is that the students will have an engaged-learning experience.

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Flower in Fondjomekwet

New Meanings of ‘Roots: Not only have we become rooted in our work here, but we’ve also grown as a group. Having been abroad together in Cameroon back in 2011, our friendship and shared vision have continued to grown throughout these months as we continue to reflect, realign our goals, and look for ways to improve our efficiency and communication. As friends and co-workers, we’re realizing more and more the importance of healthy support system, organization, positive re-enforcement and balance in our work environment.

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Chefferie in Fondjomekwet at sunset

Looking Ahead: For the second half of this journey, there is much to look forward to, such as: the further development of our current projects, like the school garden, the microfinance program, etc.; continued investigation into the Utamtsi community via blog posts and photos; the visit of the Dickinson-in-Cameroon students to Bafoussam and Fondjomekwet; for mangos to start appearing in the markets; and for the end of the dry season.

We want to extend a big thank you to those of you who have been following our activities via Facebook, Twitter and our blog. Your support is very much appreciated, as we continue to uncover and learn more and more about this community and sustainable development. Thank you again, and stay tuned!

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