Day 15 (June 30, 2010)
Today Robert and I went to The Principal’s house. It was a bit of an odd arrangement. His house, next to the school (actually, it’s a part of the school) was nestled as part of several nearby buildings. I’m not sure how we would have found it without him, but I’m sure that’s why he told us to meet him at the school.
As soon as we came, he gave the first of many apologies for his small one-room home. Indeed, it was a small home but it wasn’t uncomfortable or anything (it was probably the size of a single at Wake Forest). When I walked in, on the solitary table I saw two place settings and a pot of food in the middle. The arrangement was odd indeed. Robert and I were to be the only ones eating. I’d like to reemphasize that “small-talk” is not a feature in Cameroon; thus Robert and I ate as The Principal, his wife, and his daughter (15 perhaps) watched us from the bed a foot or two away. I had to fight the urge to make small talk since I realized that not only was it not common here, but it might even be irritating. At some point he turned on the TV and watched a DVD of worship music videos. The videos were of two or three singers in total that made music videos praising God in a traditional African style—it was quite nice. I actually left the house with a copy of one of them so I could watch it later, complements of The Principal. I intend to give it back when I’m done.
Anyway, once the video came out, the three of them stared at the TV as Robert and I ate in mostly silence peppered with occasional comments between ourselves. The food was very delicious (rice and fish) and I had a better time getting the bones out of the fish than usual. As we left The Principal apologized again before I asked a bit about the place and inquired about the teaching staff. It totals 16 staff that teach 108 students (all live on campus). He teaches Chemistry!! I thought that was cool and we bonded over that a little. Like I said, The Principal is a real stand-up kind of fellow, and he’s only been at the school about a year and a half. He apparently took over for an older lady and he had the job of “cleaning up” the place. He seemed relieved that his efforts have paid off and that he was able to bring about a different type of culture in the place (of which I’m sure the new computer lab will likely contribute).