I’ve spent the last week hanging out with volunteers in Yaoundé and at a Girls Empowerment Forum. I love opportunities to hang out with volunteers from other regions because you get to swap stories and learn more about what it’s like to live in different parts of Cameroon. This time, one of my favorite conversations was about reintegrating into American society. The business and education volunteers who arrived in Cameroon in 2010 are now finishing their service and it’s gotten us all thinking about our future post-PC. Once we started talking about our future plans we realized that we all had to start interviewing, be it for grad school or finding a job, and that got us all worried!
You see, most volunteers adopt a mixed language we all accept as English. For the Anglophones, they speak a mix of pidgin and English and for the Francophones, we speak a nice mix of French and English we call Franglais. We don’t correct each other when we mix up our languages because we all understand one another and most of the time it sounds natural. It’s really only when we speak to people back home that we realize that people will have a hard time understanding us when we return to the States. We were cracking jokes about how ridiculous we are going to sound in formal interviews.
In light of this, I’ve decided to share a few Anglophone and Francophone words that we use on a regular basis that would never pass in a job interview. Enjoy!
Volunteer talk: I have found that boofing was one of the biggest challenges to my work while in Cameroon. This was closely followed by the grandes who loved to derrange me after our protocol meetings.
Translation to appropriate interview language: As a PCV, I found corruption to be one of the biggest challenges to project implementation. This challenge was usually accompanied by harassment from some of the traditional and government leaders.
Volunteer talk: What we need is a mélange of you people and my people to successfully launch this project.
Translation to appropriate interview language: The most successful projects I have seen have included a close collaboration between western NGOs and local community partners.
Volunteer talk: See you small time.
Translation to appropriate interview language: I look forward to hearing from you soon.