My time volunteering

I was sent to French Cameroon because I could (more or less) speak French; my job was to teach English in French. I was also expected to teach football (being British). The latter was in many ways more fun than the former and I managed to convert a fairly undisciplined rabble into a team that came second in the country. The school I went to was one of the leading schools in Cameroon, a boarding school in the middle of nowhere run by  missionaries, but on the railway line from Douala to Yaounde (so it was possible to get away occasionally, which was a lifeline towards the end). I shared a house and a 'boy' with a young Frenchman who was a 'militaire détaché' i.e someone escaping the worst of compulsory military service by working in education abroad.

I learnt far more from my students than they did from me and returned to the UK radically changed, and I think much improved.

The impact of my placement

I have nothing to boast about here.

My unforgettable moments

Two are worth mentioning. The first was when our 'boy' - actually a 30yr old woman - offered to return to the UK with me and serve as my servant while I was an undergraduate at Oxford. The thought of the impact I would make arriving in such style  did not persuade me that it was a good idea. The second was when I discovered that the young student to whom I gave the key to my small classroom each weekend, ostensibly so that he could study in quiet, was using the room as a brothel. That taught me something

The impact my placement has had on me

I was very much changed by the experience. After 5 years at an elite UK public school I had a great deal to learn about life. I ended up as an academic but still look back to that year with enormous pleasure.

College Evangelique de Libamba, Cameroon

Libamba (no streets)

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