Friday, April 13, 2012

Just a quick update

This is just a quick update to let you know I fixed the problem with the pictures on the last entry, and also to say that things are moving along nicely with the internship in Cameroon! I've been in contact with both the executive secretary and the technical director of RENATA ( if you want to check it out) and while they're both out of the office until Monday, I'm going to have a phone call with them to iron out all of the official details so that they can draft up a contract/lettre d'invitation for my visa!

This is all very exciting, although I did also just look up airline tickets to Cameroon for round trip September-December and we're looking at about $1600 including the discount of the travel stipend which I was awarded. Here's hoping somebody hires me this summer! Otherwise I might end up looking like this:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

And the wandering continues!

Spring break has unfortunately ended. It was a great week spent with my family in Chicago and Boston, but now I'm back in Madison for the home stretch of school! It's been about a year since I started this blog just as I was contemplating my move to Madison and it's interesting to see how right now I'm contemplating moving again! So..."where to?", you may ask. Well..that's a great question!

Although I had originally planned to be gone from about May-September on my internship, I'm currently slated to leave sometime in September and get back at the end of December. The good news is, after months of complaining that I would never find an internship and that nobody wanted me, that has certainly changed! The bad news too many people want me. Currently I am in negotiations with two different non-profit organizations, one in the south of France and one in Cameroon. The organization in France works with children with Autism (how perfect is that?), but they aren't sure they have the funds to pay me, and under French law interns staying for 3 months (the minimum requirement for our program) have to be paid. Obviously I wouldn't be opposed to working unpaid, since that's kind of what I assumed before I knew about this law, but in terms of getting my visa and everything I need to be an "intern" with a contract, so they need to pay me. It's a great law to prevent the abuse of interns that is so prevalent in France (and in the US), but it definitely hurts non-profits which are generally volunteer-based. At the same time, this organization is still being viewed as a "plan B" for me, because I would prefer to work with an organization connected to a developing country.

The second option I "potentially" have is a non-profit in Cameroon which works with women and young girls who experience unplanned pregnancy, abuse, and health concerns. I would be very interested in working for such an organization. It's a topic I think is important to address worldwide, and it also means working pretty closely with adorable children and their moms! So far my contact, and that of my director, with the organization has been to the effect of "Great! We would love to have you! When will you get here?", so we need to make the details of this a lot more concrete before I accept that offer. I would really love to work for this organization and it sounds like exactly what I want in this internship experience, but it is a little frustrating that I need to negotiate contract details and logistics in a country where that kind of stuff isn't super important. I'm definitely leaning toward this option, but time is of the essence since I need to buy a plane ticket, get my visa, and figure out where I'm going to live in either city.

So..what this boils down to is still a whole lot of "wait and see". I'm trying to arrange a phone conversation with the Cameroonian organization, because I feel like as soon as I get on the phone with them I'll be able to deal with things a lot easier. I've actually had a fair amount of experience with "la culture ouest-africaine" in terms of time management, but it's a little different when I'm also working with an American school system who needs everything to be figured out on paper.

In the meantime, I'm excited to finish up my last semester of actual classes and to actually enjoy my summer break now that I know I'll be here instead of abroad. Sean and I have a small camping trip planned for his first weekend home after he graduates and I'm planning a weekend/day trip to Chicago at some point with some friends here to try out a Senegalese restaurant I never knew about while I lived there! I'm definitely ready to be "done" with the whole school thing, which I guess is a pretty common consequence of a week of spring break. Only about a month left though! We just started "Module Maghreb", which is a unit in one of my classes where we discuss politics of French-speaking North Africa. It's a really short unit (boo...we spent forever on France and Quebec), three weeks of Maghreb and then two weeks of Sub-Saharan Africa so I'm really excited for that. Yesterday we met our professor, who is from Egypt, and I spoke a little bit of Arabic with her! It was my first experience using Arabic with somebody I don't really know and she was excited about it.

Well that's it for now, I guess I'll leave you with a few pictures from my trip to Boston with my brother to visit my sister, her husband, and my adorable new nephew!

Me and the nephew!

My brother is not too sure about holding a baby...

My sister, happy to finally have her little one home!

My brother shaming history after a beer at the "oldest restaurant in America"

I have some more pictures that I took with my actual camera (not my phone). I'll get around to putting those on facebook eventually...