Asa Waterworth

Connecticut College

I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Francophone Africa…but never thought I’d be able to find a program like Middlebury Cameroon, one which is culturally immersive, language intensive, and academically rigorous. I arrived in Yaoundé on the eve of les Lyons Indomitables winning the Africa Cup of Nations, and we were even at the airport to wave and welcome the champion footballers home. What ensued was a hectic, crowded, loud, patriotic, flag filled weeklong welcome that served as a perfect introduction to my 4 months in Yaoundé. What amazed me the most about my time in Cameroon was that no matter where I was or what I was doing, I was constantly learning. Every day was full of challenges, but with every challenge came the opportunity to learn something, and with knowledge came confidence and great comfort. For example, at the beginning of the semester the idea of waiting on the side of the road, yelling out my desired destination to taxi drivers, and squeezing into a taxi from the 1980’s to travel across a city I didn’t know scared me. By the end of the semester, I was hailing taxis no problem, knew exactly where I was and where I was going, and could even joke around with my fellow passengers, or win an argument with the driver if he tried to overcharge me. My director, professors, internship colleagues, host family, and fellow students on the program pushed me to explore, to express myself even if I made mistakes, and to try new things (though I should add that when it came to Cameroonian cuisine I was always eager to eat absolutely anything and everything). I’m grateful to and for the Yaoundé program, and I hope that it continues to grow so that more individuals can live by the popular Cameroonian motto/order of “il faut profiter!” or “you must make the most of it!” just as I did.