By Maxim Jordan Dongmo Ymelong, YES 2013-14, Cameroon, hosted by PAX in Salt Lake City, UT
My name is Maxim Jordan Dongmo Ymelong. I am 20 years old and studying mathematics and computer science at the University of Dschang in Cameroon. My experience as a YES student was amazing. During my year in Salt Lake City, I was actively involved in community service activities. One of my favorite volunteer opportunities was education-focused as I was tutoring a young girl in reading.
When I returned to Cameroon, I noticed that people in my community are very interested in education, especially the English language. However, they lack the facilities, books, and teachers. Because Cameroon is a bilingual country, people who can't speak English have less opportunities than individuals who speak English and French. Most people who can't speak English did not receive the proper education in primary school.
I have a desire to promote the English language and education as a whole. This passion motivated me to apply for a YES alumni grant. I received a 2016 YES alumni grant to establish a six-month education program for one of the most underprivileged primary schools in Bafou-Lefeh in the west of Cameroon. The program, English Language and Culture Promotion Program (ELCPP), was implemented at the Groupe Scolaire Bilingue les Moineaux, a primary school attended by about 150 students. I chose this school because it is located in one of the least known areas of the community, where access to education is minimal. At the beginning of the project, teachers had a lot of difficulty teaching their classes as almost no students had textbooks. Fortunately, the community was very receptive to fresh and innovative ideas on education and supported this project.
In carrying out the project, I created a small library with books for most of the classes and subjects taught at the school, installed a computer, and volunteered as an English teacher. With the assistance of the English, computer science, and civic education clubs from the local high school, Lycee de Bafou, I also planned a conference at the school to highlight the importance of speaking both English and French and to discuss other important issues, such as the environment, civic education, and volunteering.
The project has contributed to improving the teaching conditions at the school, and I believe it will continue to do so. Through the entire project, students showed their eagerness to learn and improved their English. I believe in our students to be innovative volunteers who contribute to improving the community and the country. I hope to do a follow up project to introduce computer science classes to the teachers so they can fully benefit from the school’s brand new computer.
I want to thank the Kennedy-Lugar YES program, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, iEARN, and American Councils for International Education for their support of this project. This project would have been much more difficult to achieve if it were not for the assistance and the involvement of my fellow alumni, iEARN Schoolnet Cameroon, and other volunteers. I’m also very thankful to the staff of Groupe Scolaire Bilingue les Moineaux for assisting me throughout the entire project. Thanks to all these contributors, ELCPP has changed the lives of the students of an entire primary school and mine, too.