Growing up in the Rainforest about RPCV Laura Foradori

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Peace Corps Cameroon: Peace Corps in Cameroon: Growing up in the Rainforest about RPCV Laura Foradori

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 9:15 am: Edit Post

Growing Up in the Rainforest



Being the only white person around for miles didn't phase Laura Foradori, who immersed herself in the culture of her adopted country. "At first when I got there I didnít have a mirror, and there were days when I would forget that I was white. I would forget there was another world I was from."

The small-town life of Seville, Ohio, seemed light years away to Foradori, whose eyes were opening even as her attitudes were changing. "In America weíre trained to think a certain way: 'This is right and this is wrong.' It made me see things from the viewpoint of a different culture. It really changes how I think about things.

"From the first day there I never had a moment of peace. I had people knocking on my door every moment. It wasn't just because I was white or a foreigner. The people were friendly and generous and open; they're just very concerned about people."

Just because Cameroon is smack in middle of the most virulent jungle on Earth doesn't mean the people don't need help with farming methods. "The rainy season lasted for eight months, which washed away the topsoil from clear-cut areas of the forest," said Foradori, who majored in biology. Part of her job, in a way, was to undo damage perpetrated by the West. Like Barnhart, she worked in what the Peace Corps calls agriforestry extension, incorporating leguminous trees and shrubs into the land to anchor and rejuvenate the soil.

"Part of the mission of the Peace Corps is to make a bridge between ourselves and other countries, and thatís doing it right on the lowest level."

Foradori swears she got more from the Cameroonian people than she could ever give them. "I don't think any job that I could have done in America could have matured me the way the Peace Corps did," she said. "When I came back, I had been gone for 3-1/2 years, but I felt 10 years older."

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