Nothing Works But Everything Works Out: My Peace Corps Experience in the West Region of Cameroon
Cameroon is a country in West Africa, directly south-east of Nigeria. Leigh Marie Dannhauser gets sent by the Peace Corps to be an agriculture volunteer in the West Region of Cameroon, specifically to Baleveng, a village of 15,000 people spread out over 88 square kilometers in the heart of Bamiléké country. There she faces the challenges of adapting to a completely new way of life, one where while struggling to adapt to new customs and the absence of amenities common at home, she undertakes a job assignment of improving food security through improved agricultural practices with nothing more than 10 weeks of Peace Corps training as agriculture experience.
But she persisted, working hard to become a part of the Baleveng community, learning how to not just survive her two years of service but to fulfill her job assignment. She had successes and faced setbacks, went to ceremonies, and learned how to farm the Cameroonian way in order to help where she could. In the process, she learned what it means to be a true Bamiléké while also learning about herself away from American society.
Nothing Works But Everything Works Out describes her journey and her two years in a village that became her home but is now just a memory.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 5 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.00 out of 10
Idea/Concept: In a heartfelt memoir, Dannhauser tells the story behind her time spent serving in the Peace Corps in the West Region of Cameroon. Writing with warmth and genuine emotion, the author discusses her experience living in an unfamiliar environment and her adjustment to the culture of the Peace Corps, where circumstances rarely go exactly as planned.
Prose: Dannhauser's prose is plainspoken but lively, featuring substantial detail and honest reflection.
Originality: This narrative is hardly original in concept or presentation. Regardless, Dannhauser takes ownership of her time serving abroad, while emphasizing that no two Peace Corps experiences are the same. She proceeds to tell a personal story of the roles she played, the individuals she met, and how she grew as a result.
Execution: While this work may not stand apart from other Peace Corps accounts--and the primary audience may be individuals considering joining the Peace Corps themselves--Dannhauser's memoir is clear, engaging, and uplifting.
Date Submitted: January 17, 2020