The Cameroon Experience

Project Directors

Laura Hengehold

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Gilbert Doho

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Modern Languages and Literatures

Cheryl Toman

Associate Professor of French, Modern Languages and Literatures

International Collaborators

Dr. Nalova Lyonga

Professor of English, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Professionalization, and Development of Information and Communication Technologies, University of Buea (UB)

Dr. Joyce Endeley

Head of Women and Gender Studies and Vice-Dean of Students' Affairs and Records, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, UB

Ms. Joan Beri

Director, Instructional Technology Lab, UB

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

“The Cameroon Experience” was planned as a three-week service and experiential learning course open to students from across the university and held on-site in Cameroon, a bilingual English/French-speaking country in Central West Africa. In Spring 2008, Dr. Nalova Lyonga visited CWRU to finalize the details of the course, to deliver a public lecture and to lead three videoconferences between faculty and students at CWRU and their counterparts in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Buea. While in Cleveland, she discussed additional collaborative research and teaching opportunities with deans and researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, the School of Medicine, the Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences, and the Weatherhead School of Management, and with students from the School of Engineering.

The original purpose of the grant was to solidify the relationship between faculty members at the University of Buea and CWRU in preparation for the summer travel course to Cameroon. The initial result of Dr. Lyonga’s visit, however, was the creation of a semester-long, on-campus course (FRCH/ETHS 338: The Cameroon Experience) that takes advantage of advanced communications technology to foster collaboration between the two universities. The project directors are still working on funding for the overseas version of the course.

PROJECT OUTCOMES

Dr. Lyonga’s visit afforded CWRU students the opportunity to interact with an important feminist thinker and academic administrator from a Central African university. Dr. Lyonga visited several classes while in Cleveland and gave a well-attended public lecture. Students from the University of Buea have continued to interact with subsequent Women and Gender Studies classes at CWRU using video technology. Colleagues at UB are a resource for students interested in capstones about African history and culture.

The grant also paid to upgrade UB’s computer lab so that international videoconferences can be carried out on a regular basis. UB received one digital projector (and spare bulb), three webcams for short-range and zoom capability, one copy of Polycom’s videoconferencing software and one Polycom noise-cancelling microphone. This equipment allows for group conferencing as well as interaction between individual students on desktop computers, whether to practice French or to discuss cultural issues.

The project utilized the H.323 system for IP videoconferencing on the mobile cart in Guilford House. The advantage of the H.323 system, which uses only Internet lines, is its minimal cost.. The disadvantages included time lags in data transfer and small screen size on the UB end.

FACT SHEET

Total funding: $7,122

The grant supported Dr. Nylova Lyonga’s visit to CWRU, the videotaping and archiving of her public lecture and the videoconferencing equipment for the UB computer lab.

The Cameroon collaboration has yielded two significant outcomes. First, the student organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has raised more than $20,000 to build two water treatment systems in Fu'nda, Cameroon. EWB has signed a five-year project contract involving collaboration with the University of Buea, which is currently developing an engineering program of its own. Second, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing has signed an agreement with the University of Buea, which will host senior nursing majors for their SAGES capstone research projects.

Laura Hengehold

Laura Hengehold

Associate Professor of Philosophy
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Gilbert Doho

Gilbert Doho

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Modern Languages and Literatures
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