Saturday was my English Club’s n-th annual English Day. Every year, five or six Wake Forest (fuck the Deacs, go Terps!) students come to Benin for about a month. They explore Cotonou and some of the surrounding areas with a Beninese-American professor. Anyway, it’s a big pony show, and part of that is the cooperation between the students and one of the English clubs I work with.
ENEAM is basically Benin’s b-school. It’s an arm of the state university, and it’s a pretty good school. The kids are bright and motivated. The English Club regularly has an attendance of over 40. It’s entirely student run and funded. The students just want to get together and practice English. They’ve realized that all of the theory they learn in class is worthless if they don’t get any experience actually speaking. Thus, the club.
Every year, the ENEAM English Club (ECE) hosts the WFU students for a bit, does some exchanges, and then puts on a massive show to celebrate the English language. There are musical guests, games, presentations, speeches, and of course (this is Benin, after all), a fashion show!
I was a co-emcee with one of the students (former club president), but my partner did, by far, the greater part of the work once we got on stage. We spent the better part of the last two weeks putting together a PowerPoint slide show to go along with things (ended up being more or less useless, but whatever), fixing last minutes problems, and filling in the cracks of the last minute details. I say “we,” but what I really mean is that I was a cheerful spectator who gave language advice and put in some long hours, but effectively did very little to actually put the event together.
The credit for the four hour event goes entirely to my (“my” haha) English club, who worked their fool tails off and put on an incredible show. Doubly so, because all of the prep work happened during mid-terms (or a rough equivalent thereof). In fact, some of the organizers had mid-terms Saturday morning, then came directly to get the show moving when they were done. Craziness.
After the show, we took the WFU students (or more accurately, caught a ride in their van) to the beach to play. I face-planted several times in the sand diving after the frisbee (why yes, I’m as competitive as ever, thanks for asking), which was a blast. I didn’t take part in soccer or handball, which confused my friends to no end, but that’s the way it goes. The athleticism and grace here is incredible sometimes.
Clearly, I had a really great time. They did an amazing job. And I’m sad that the school year is ending soon because I’ve only just started working with these students and dammit, I’m just having so much fun!