Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To develop or not to develop?

Five weeks. I have almost been here a year. This has been my reality for 11 months. How strange. I’ve been thinking of the future more as the days go by. Thinking a lot about the word “development”. People could argue that what I am doing in this country is selfish and is not doing a damn thing. I must admit that I partly agree. A year seems like a long time, but really it’s not. I feel like a year has given me a lifetime of stories but not really done much to contribute to my Namibian community. Sure, there have been some donations and some close learner connections, but it is easy to overlook those and ask what I’m really doing on a bigger scale. Development is typically understood to be a positive thing and can be interchanged with “progress”. I struggle to decide whether I am aiding that development or simply imposing a warped version of my Western ideals on a few kids. There’s no answer to this I don’t think., but the questioning only intrigues me more and pushes me into continuing my “development” or attempted development work in the future. I see the opportunities for progress here. I see my fellow Namibian teachers talking “solidarity” and marching their way to the Regional Office. Namibia has limitless potential – I just often feel unequipped to support this potential in an effective and sustainable way. I’m not trying to say that what we are doing here is wrong. Those donations and lessons and connections are huge. I just feel that this experience has served as a catalyst to push me past education into the world of sustainable development.

In other news…our End of Service conference is complete. We are now officially on the last leg of our journey. Keeping up the motivation has been hard for all learners and teachers and has been keeping me up nights. I’m trying to finish strong and am really hoping to see some improvements in my kids’ scores. Sometimes I feel like being a special education teacher has helped me so much in teaching here. Other times, I feel like the parameters of my special education mind limit my expectations of my kids. Professionally, I have been working on pushing past those barriers and expecting the most of my kids since I know they have it in them. It is just easy to rejoice in all of the little victories and look past the fact that 70% of your class is failing the National exams…

K, I attempted to put some pictures at the end of this, but as usual, it didn't work. There are some on facebook for those of you who are my friend. Missing you all and wishing you a very happy November.



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