Story Problems

Story Problems: Nasara in Ngatt Edition


Ever wonder how you would do if you moved into a small Cameroonian village? Find out if you would survive the first month with the quiz below.

Part I: Arrival

1) Finally after 10 weeks of training, 1 week of case life, and the train ride down to Ngaoundal the night before, today is the day you will arrive at post. Too excited to sleep, you awaken at 5 AM ready to head out, but alas, the others are still asleep and it seems rude to ghost, so instead you finish packing. At 8 AM (how people sleep past 6 AM here will forever amaze me) the others begin to stir. When your friend’s landlord knocks to check in, you greet him with your backpack on and ask him to take you find a petite voiture to your village. On the way you attempt to call your landlord to inform him of your exact arrival, but the réseau dérange (Ashia!). What do you do?

A. Wait until you can contact him.

B. Decide to go on and try calling again on the way.

C. Allons-y! Assume since all of les blanches look the same and there’s only been one other nasara (foreigner) of Ngatt the town will know what to do with you.

D. B & C.

2) Having arrived, everyone swarms inside until your landlord (and neighbor) tells everyone to clear out and let you rest. A blessing considering how overwhelmed you are from the adrenaline of the last couple hours. Unfortunately, you are not the only one who is overwhelmed. Métis, your newly adopted cat, fled upon seeing the crowd and appears to have fled upon seeing the crowd and appears to have run away. What do you do?

A. Wonder how you will explain to the former PCV that her beloved cat ran away.

B. Move his food outside as a peace offering.

C. Make tea in order to calm down and try to worry about the cat later.

D. All of the above.

3) Later that day your landlord returns so you can fill out your lease and pay rent. He also informs you that Jess is too difficult for the townspeople to say, thus, you most pick a new name. After racking your brain for names that appear in Islam and would likely appear here (actually you are probably just thinking of names you have heard in Farsi) what name do you choose?

A. Mariam

B. Khadijah

C. Fatima

D. Aisha

4) After a weekend of moving in and getting settled, it is finally Monday—your first day of work at the health center—however, your counterpart, Moussa, stops by in the morning to inform you that he is going to Ngaoubela today and you should come in tomorrow. The next day you arrive and realize that you do not see Moussa. Your new work collegues inform you that he was in a moto accident the evening before and broke his leg. What now?

A. Counterpart down = find a new town

B. Stay and observe the hospital

C. Call Monique

D. Call your program managers

Part II: Petits

5) Everyday after work you go home to se reposer (relax), but somehow they know. They always know when you are back and soon, they begin to ask: “Tu es là? Je veux designer! Mi yidi vindugo! Je veux écrire! Madame? Madame!”

A. Go outside and let them draw.

B. Tell them not today.

C. Hide. Pretend no one is home.

D. Plot twist! You are not home, having the foresight to visit others during this time.

6) Today is the day! Polio vaccinations courtesy of MINSANTE, which means you will spend the next three days en brousse recording the vaccinations, vitamins and deworming medicines given to children 5 and under. But—ashia!—some children begin to scream when they see your team approach. Why?

A. Fear of vaccinations

B. Fear of white people

C. None of the above. Children scream for a variety of reasons.

Part III: Fulfuldé

7) Leaving one of the vaccination sites, an old man calls out: “Hokkam Mariam. Hoosu bala!” Translate his Fulfuldé into English.

A. Farewell Mariam. Have a nice day!

B. Allah bless you Mariam. I’ll see you soon!

C. Thank you Mariam. Take this gift!

D. Give me Mariam. Take the moto!

8) One day, while chatting with patients, the question of your hair comes up. “Where did it come from? How much was it? Can I buy it?” Successfully explain in basic Fulfuldé where your hair comes from and that it is not for sale.

A. Horre am haa gité am. Mi yiday filugo.

B. Gité am bee koole am. A yiday soodugo.

C. Gasa am haa bandu am. Mi sippay gasa am.

D. Koste am bee pade am. Mi yidi soodugo pade am.

9) The other day while looking over records, you overhear a patient say “Hookam nasara.” Still slightly annoyed after the incident where the old man tried to buy you with a moto, you ask a fellow work colleague who said that. She laughs, why?

A. As suspected, the guy was trying to buy you.

B. Being a nasara, anything you do is amusing.

C. Plot twist! There are actually two nasaras here.

Part IV: Oddities

10) Which of the following creatures do you live with? (Choose all that apply).

A. Cat.

B. Giant spiders.

C. Ants.

D. Cockroaches

E. Bats.

11) The other day while you are walking home, something flies by and nearly hits you, Name the inanimate object.

A. Shit.

B. Onion.

C. Baton de manioc.

D. Book.

12) One morning you wake to Métis mewing. This behavior continues into the night. Worried something is wrong you ask your neighbor who all. What does she say?

A. He is hurt.

B. He is catcalling.

C. Nothing is wrong.

D. He is stressed.


13) When should one start saying “Bonsoir” instead of “Bonjour”?

A. In the evening, until bedtime.

B. From the hours of 4 PM – 6 PM

C. Anytime after noon.

D. Anytime throughout the day.



  1. D. I gambled correctly. When the driver dropped off me and my baggage, random townspeople and children grabbed my stuff and headed towards my new home. I gave up calling again in order to follow the procession. Best first impression of my new village. Also my house has purple doors, which I took as another good sign.


    My living room. The former PCV even left me a Christmas tree!

  2. D. Fortunately, Métis come back in the evening and let me pet him. He woke me up the next morning and wanted to cuddle—we have been friends ever since.


    Adventure hat and a cat. Meet Métis.

  3. A. Mariam. Still not actually sure how I came up with this, but they seemed to accept it. On another note, Aisha was the name the other PCV chose, so now I have to correct the townspeople from not only calling me nasara, but also Aisha. (In other words, I now respond to all three.)
  4. B. So far this strategy seems to be going well. The health center staff is friendly and the center is utilized by the town and surrounding villages. We also visited Moussa the first night and he will be out for a while (compound fracture) but hopefully he will be walking again by IST.
  5. Depends on the day, but usually it is B or C. In other news, I find it hilarious that I sit around drinking tea, while hiding from small children.
  6. A & B. As some children are, they were terrified of the vaccines; ergo, we had to call them “bonbons”or candy, as we sometimes also do in the states (I guess some techniques of persuading children are universal). However, some children had never seen a white person before and would scream when they saw me and/or if I came near them. I tried being friendly and speaking to them in Fulfuldé but to no avail. That said, the adults found the whole scenario to be hilarious, so eventually, I would give up trying to befriend the children and laugh with the adults.
  7. D. Not a very romantic marriage proposal, and he definitely did not need more wives, but I guess it’s always nice to know your value as a bride here. (Or at least starting price, I think I am definitely worth at least 3 motos…)
  8. C. Roughly translates to “My hair is from my body. I am not selling my hair.” Clearly I’ll be fluent in no time. Just kidding. It’s seta seta (little by little).
  9. C. Since nasara is the word for foreigner, anyone who is not from nearby is a nasara, ergo, Glenn, another work colleague is a nasara too. The guy was simply asking that she give him his medical carnet. In other words, context is everything, especially with Fulfuldé.
  10. All of the above to a degree (see explanation below):

A-Obviously, I live with Métis. He is wonderful and kills mice, which he tries to bring back inside to eat, causing me to move him and his mouse (still in his mouth) outside.

B-Spiders. Any trace of my arachnophobia as a child is long gone. There are just so many and since they kill other bugs, I let them be and greet them every night when they chill on the walls.

C-Ants. Yes & no. I tried insecticide when I first arrived but them ran out. Now as long as they live inside my walls (#MudWallProbs) and I don’t see them, I don’t mind. Occasionally, they come out to eat whatever crumbs I dropped while cooking, but having cleaned they return to their nest.

D-Cockroaches. No. Although I’m sure they are alive and well in my latrine. Fun fact: I did squash a fornicating pair the other night, which probably saved me from not only those two but also hundreds of babies.

E-Bats. Sort of? Bats get stuck in the top of my roof and run around until they fall out and die. Then I find them on the ground in my house and move them outside.

NOTE: From ants to spiders to cat, I almost feel like some weird Disney princess living with all these creatures that clean and kill for me. (Sleeping under a grand mosquito net only adds to the illusion since princesses always sleep under those bed curtain things, right?) *Fingers crossed* we all start singing together in harmony each morning and they start drawing water from the well for me.


My bedroom. Mosquito nets are pretty regal.

  1. A. By some stroke of luck (?), I was nearly shit on by a goat riding by on a moto. If bird poop is good luck, then goat poop must be fantastic luck considering the odds of it flying by and landing on you. (Plus birds totally have to be aiming…)
  2. B. Literally, he is catcalling. As my neighbor put it: “Métis cherche une femme.” Overall, this was a week long process. On another note, horny cats are super noisy and really annoying when you are trying to sleep.
  3. D. My French professors tried so hard to enforce this slight distinction that starts sometime in the evening and goes until bedtime, but here, I am “bonsoir-ed” at every hour of the day, including on my morning runs at 6 AM. Moral of the story: you can say bonsoir whenever and wherever you want. Send my condolences to my French professors, L’Academie Française and all of France.