Saturday, February 26, 2011

General thoughts

It’s been a while since my last post. Things are still chugging along and are really feeling normal…whatever that means. Crazy things still happen to me everyday, but I think that was one of the reasons I wanted to come here. Teaching is still really hard sometimes, but that’s just the nature of the profession. And again, that is one of the reasons I wanted to come here. Sometimes easy just doesn’t do it.

I have recently been invited to attend the local church in Ogongo. As you know, I am not an avid church-goer at home, but in an attempt to absorb as much of this beautiful culture as I can, I plan on attending. I have not gone yet, but have been thinking on this topic of religion quite a bit. There are so many aspects of this place that are so amazing different and unique and are celebrated as cultural traditions. These traditional acts (like pounding mahangu and greeting every single freaking person in the room) are the kinds of things that make Namibia such a special place in such a globalized world. These are the things I want to absorb and experience as much as possible. When I think about religion here, I don’t think of the same age-old traditions and brilliant differences. Since colonial times, Namibian church has looked much like a church at home. There are Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans. They read the same holy texts, say the same memorized lines. Yes, maybe it is a four hour production in Oshiwambo, but overall, this aspect of Namibian life has been Westernized almost completely. Recently I was reading a book on this subject and came across a passage that really struck me. It was an interview with a Namibian elder, speaking on the foreign influence on religion.

This man said “When they came, we had the land and they had the Lord. Now we have the Lord and they have the land.”

This line really struck me. I am in no way knocking religion…it serves a purpose for those who participate and I respect that. I just think it is interesting to trace back where something so important to a culture came from. I’m sure that attending here will not look like going home to St. Pats, but I feel that is one place where the traditions and uniqueness of this place won’t be so evident.

We have been having some amazing thunderstorms lately. I really can’t imagine not seeing rain for many months…it is going to be really weird! I have been working on a garden at my house (lettuce, carrots, onions, swiss chard) and have been really thankful for all the rain! We will see how it lasts in the dry season!

Just some thoughts! Hope you are all enjoying life and keepin on keepin on.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Secret Astronomy Stuff

Hi friends ☺ Before I begin, I should probably explain the title of this post. I talked to my sis the other day and she told me that in our mom’s basement, she happened upon an old folder of my entitled “Secret Astronomy Stuff”. Apparently the insides had nothing to do with astronomy, but I’m pretty sure they did at one point or another. Not really sure why it had to be secret, but yes, I was a nerdy child. I bring this up because I have been rekindling my romance with astronomy since being in Namibia. It’s not so secret anymore, but the sky and stars are some of my favorite things here. I’ve recently been trying to (not so secretly) study some of the southern hemisphere constellations. I am going camping this weekend and can hopefully try out of hand at identifying them. Ok, enough secret astronomy stuff. Let me update you on the haps:

Things are going really well. Things are really hard sometimes (especially with the teaching), but I just sort of accept it and am able to move on. The language barrier thing is becoming more and more apparent and is therefore inspiring me to learn more and more Oshindonga. There are also little semantic differences that really seemed to come up in the past week. Here is an example: On Friday, I planned an activity for my math class that I thought was going to be really freaking cool. I spent lots of time trying to make it user friendly (or so I thought) and really put my modification skills to work. Basically there were six different stations where the learners needed to complete different activities. Two of the stations that I thought were the most fun involved decks of cards. At each station, I had written very clear, numbered directions on index cards. At one of the card stations, the second direction was to “draw 5 cards.” As I am making the rounds, checking on each group, I notice that the group working at the card station is way behind. Upon further inspection I see that they had actually drawn pictures of five cards in their notebooks. With rulers. And very accurate details. I will now and forever say “take five cards”. Little things like that can frustrate you when there is limited time and lots of your own time and energy has been put into something that fails. Luckily, I have been able to see the humor in this and so have my learners. There are other times where I get downright pissed, but that happened all the time teaching in the states. Sometimes I have to remind myself that teaching is hard everywhere, not just here.

Computer class is still a struggle for me. I completely understand the importance of getting these kids on the computers, I just feel like I really have to force myself to get into it. I really would rather be teaching a core subject, but am working on changing my outlook. We had many power outages this week that complicated my classes a bit. There are three different fuse boxes associated with the computer lab, so much of the time, I am running around between the three to try and get my class back on schedule. I am a little intimidated by the fact that I am like the IT person for the entire school…there are computers just not working and my limited knowledge and turning on and off skills are not going to fix them. If anyone has any spyware programs or knows of any that I could easily get my hands on, that would be greatly appreciated ☺ Also, while I am soliciting, if anyone has any old iPods or MP3 players that you are looking to get rid of, that would be awesome. Along with the cameras, I am hoping to have some kind of listening stations in the library. Let me know if you think you have anything and I would be more than happy to help with the shipping costs.

The library is still running smoothly. I am enjoying having my library helpers around…they teach me lots of new words and phrases and I teach them about America. Lots of kids from my math class are also coming in for extra help which I really love. The kids never ask questions in class…it’s just how it goes here. Because of that, it is really wonderful to have some smaller group time with some of them. I really love that class…they are pretty spectacular.

Another story… I was running this evening (yes, I sometimes trade in my evening walk for a run if I am feeling ambitious) and ended up being followed by like 3 or 4 kids. I really felt like Forrest Gump. Then one of them caught up to me and asked if I was being chased by a robber. Running is not a very common activity in these parts, so people often question my sanity or safety when they see me jogging. I assured the kids that I was just fine and went on my way ☺

Ok, so here is the plan for the evening…I am going to set my alarm to wake up at 1am so I can load some pictures. I will put lots on facebook and some on here. I have been wanting to do this for a while and have been putting it off. Wednesdays are my suckiest day of the week anyway, so I figure a little less sleep won’t really hurt! I won’t probably caption any of them tonight, so hopefully they make some sense.

Hope those of you in the Chi are surviving the Snowtorious B.I.G.! Talk soon,


Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hey ya’ll. Can you believe it is February already? This whole being sunburned and wearing sandals everyday thing really messes with my monthly concept. Everything continues to go well…crazy, but good. I thought for this post I would write some lists I have been making ever since coming here. Here it goes:

Things I love:


*star gazing

*donkey sounds (oddly enough)

*the slow pace of life

*the learners

*soccer games

*meeting new people


*teaching math

*the generosity of people here

*random outings where I literally don’t know where I am being taken

*wearing skirts everyday

*hand washing (it’s really therapeutic)

*hanging out with other volunteers

*feeling literally like I am in the middle of nowhere (but knowing how I can get out J )

*sleeping under a mosquito net (it really is my safety net…and I kind of feel like royalty)

*speaking a small amount of Oshindonga and surprising people since I don’t look like I should be speaking it


*learning how to cook new foods

*reading by candlelight

*my FAN!!

*watching the new Indian soap opera with my roommates

*taking walks

*speaking Namlish with the little learners

*wine and coca cola (mixed of course)

*random cattle in my backyard

Things I miss:

*couches (no one has a comfortable place to sit)

*garbage cans (Namibia is literally one big dumpster)

*close friends and family (duh)

*being able to call these aforementioned close friends and family whenever I want

*coffee shops

*taking baths

*being understood and able to use sarcasm successfully

*things being done in an organized, timely manner (I’m getting more used to this in some respects)

*blending in (being the center of attention takes some getting used to)

Things that make me laugh:

*random cattle in my backyard

*random calls from people who got your phone number from someone who got it from someone else

*asking to “please help” a learner something when they really just want to borrow something

*my sunburn that looks like I am wearing red sports socks

*language barriers that just can’t be figured out

*being proposed to several times in one night

*getting asked if I know Eminem and R Kelly (I only say I know Kells)

*sitting in the backseat of a taxi with 5 other people

*remembering that I am in the middle of nowhere when I look around and all I see is cattle and sand and grass for miles

*when I try to carry too many groceries in my backpack and am honestly unable to get myself home on my own

*when the cat (who I HATE) hisses at dogs to get them out of our yard…like his skinny ass owns the place

*waking up to an actual rooster call

I’m sure I will add to these over the year, but I thought that was a start J

Hope you are all enjoying yourselves and not getting too buried in this snow storm that I hear is hitting the Midwest. I’ll put on some extra sun screen for you!