Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm coming now

It’s Monday 2 am GMT, and I am currently sitting in the Dubai airport, waiting for my flight to New York. My body is so confused with what time it is, because I haven’t really slept, it’s 3 am in Oshakati, the sun is rising here, and I’m about to adjust to EST, where it is still Sunday night. I left my home of 2 months on Friday morning with a tearful goodbye. I spent most of that day traveling to Windhoek, and the next day with the WorldTeach staff in Windhoek. Sunday and Monday are 41 hours of travel.

As bewildered as my body is with the exiting-Africa process, my mind and emotions are even more so. It is so hard to process the whole experience, really appreciate what I’ve done, and come to terms with leaving. While I cannot wait for the familiarity of home, I am also leaving behind a home that I have established in Oshakati. No more, “Miss, miss, miss.” No more learners. No more green and white uniforms. No more roosters crowing. No more cooking for myself. No more letting the daylight control my life. No more walking to school. No more classes of 49. No more driving on the left side of the road. No more locking up the house everyday. No more African porridge. No more Namlish. No more riding in the back of backies.

I can’t believe my time here is over. Two months seemed like so long. Where did it go? What did I accomplish?

I taught. I danced. I sang. I invigilated exams. I traveled. I lived on my own. I made a home. I established a routine. I explored. I thought about new things. I befriended a blonde, animal-loving, cheerleading California girl. I laughed. I cried. I ate copious amounts of meat. I got comfortable. I baked. I drank tea. I missed my family. I loved my learners. I listened to Podcasts. I solved a 1000 piece puzzle. I pounded muhangu. I ate mupani worms. I made fat cakes.

I arrived here to the Internet not working. I am leaving here with the Internet not working. I came here with no stove and lived off peanut butter and jelly. I am leaving here with no gas for the stove, living off oranges and bread. I couldn’t sleep on my last night. I couldn’t sleep on my first night.

I definitely believe that this trip was full of blessings, many still undiscovered. I cannot completely wrap my mind around everything that I’ve done, but I’m trying. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for me during this experience- I will be back soon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nearing the End

As the end of my time here is approaching, I am trying my best to make sure I am not going to leave with any regrets about living in Namibia. Of course I’ve been trying to do this the whole time, but when your days are numbered it is a lot easier to see the things you want to do before you leave. There are few things I still want/need to do (buy a traditional dress, eat Mopani worms, bake for my colleagues, etc), but it is quite satisfying to think of all the things I have done already. Since my last post about weekends, I have had three more a-typical weekends. Here we go:

Weekend 7: Caught up on Galatians, made chocolate drop cookies, did laundry, went to the open market, cleaned the flat, explored a new shopping center, went to the fabric stores, went for a run, read, rode in the back of a truck, bought groceries for a colleague’s family, visited said family at the village, pounded muhangu, sifted muhangu flour, made porridge from said flour, ate said porridge, held a baby chicken, took photos.

Weekend 8: Caught a taxi to Okalongo, rode in the back of a truck again, set up a tent in the backyard of another volunteer’s house, went to dinner, went to a club, left the club because a drunk learner was bothering us, went to a bar, saw a dance party, went to Raucana Falls, put my hand in Angola, was rejected from a border patrol station, went to a market, went with Americans to a birthday braii, took a taxi back to Oshakati, went to a Namibians house-warming braii, went to the Miss Erundu pageant, went to a charismatic church with Meme Koko, made caramel corn, read about the Appalachian Trail, talked to my Granny on the phone, and marked homework

Weekend 9: Read, finished puzzle, participated in my schools Big Fun Walk 10K from the neighboring town to our school, sold Mary’s chili and Rice Krispie treats at the school exhibition, rested at home for a bit, read, went back to the exhibition, went to student “dance club,” had mini-dance party outside, cleaned out my suitcase, went to church, had lunch at Koko’s, cleaned my room, marked papers

This upcoming weekend will be spent traveling to and in Windhoek, debriefing with the other volunteers about our Namibian experiences, going to the airport, getting on a plane and flying and flying and more flying, and then I will be back in America this time next week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Speaking of reminders of home, several of the phrases I use bring happy memories of people from home.
For example, I made caramel corn the other day, and instead of thinking, “Hmmm, I wish I had a bigger bowl to make this in,” I thought, “Hmmm, if only I had a bunka!” I apologize if this is a misspelling, but I am not sure how you spell bunka because it is a word I have never read or written, but only heard spoken by my Swedish Papa when we cook in his kitchen.
Another instance is that when a meal is finished, and everyone discusses how full they are, I am always tempted to burst into a complex and extensive monologue I learned from my Dad about my gastranomic satiety, but quickly resist the urge by reminding myself that if only 3 people outside my family find it funny in America, I am unlikely to find anyone here to add to that 3.
For a non-food related example, I say “Cést la vie.” Not only do I iterate this phrase regularly in my journaling and in my real life (thanks to my room-sharing/pillow-talking friend Rachel) but I also inwardly say “la vie” (thanks to my Italy-traveling/Emma Stone loving friend Ben).
There are many phrases and vocabulary words I have brought with me here from America, but do not think all I do here is reminisce about days back in the “good ol’ U S of A.” There are a plethora of phrases I have picked up here. The official language here is English, but just like American English is different from British English, Namlish is different from what I am used to. Here are some examples:
Too replaces the word very. Example: “This fire is too hot.” (They don’t wish it were less hot, they are just making a comment.) “You are too tall.” (Tell me about it!)
!Na is a complimentary adjective similar to nice. Example: “That skirt is !Na!” (The exclamation mark is a click in the front of the mouth- without this meaning I might think be offended.)
Learners replaces students. Example: “Learners, you are being too loud!”
SMS replaces text. Example: “I have been SMSing you all afternoon and you never responded!” (I’m so sorry- my thumbs still haven’t adjusted to this phone, so it took me 4 hours to text you back!)
Toilet is used as the room with the toilet, not bathroom. Example: “Where is the toilet?” (Well, it’s in the bathroom- duh!)
Borrow replaces lend. Example: “Miss, borrow me a pen please” (Often borrow is actually replacing give- especially if coming from a learner)
! Ohh! is an exclamation of frustration. Example:! Ohh, keep quiet!” (The exclamation mark is a clicking sound, sort of sounding like tisking, and the ohh has a very round o. This phrase is hard to convey in writing.
Is it replaces really. Example: “I am a teacher in Oshakati.” “Is it?” (Is it what?)
Nay replaces yeah/uh huh/right. Example: “So then you went home, Nay?” (I haven’t actually said this one yet- I’m afraid people will laugh at me)

While I am still struggling with any Oshiwambo I should be learning, my Namlish is getting pretty good- so if I say anything weird in the first few weeks home (less than 2 weeks away), this is my apology in advance.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Home away from home

What I find myself missing most about America are the relationships I have there. As much as I look forward to seeing Harry Potter and driving a car, I am aching to be surrounded by my friends and family once again. I love talking to my mom, dad, and even Granny on the phone via Skype and e-corresponding with friends, but look forward to feeling their warm embrace and being able to see their faces again. Without them here, I am sweetly surprised at how many things here remind me of them.
One example is the foods I am making and craving. They are not necessarily my the foods I eat often or my favorites when in America (with pizza being the exception), but here I crave them nonetheless. For example, in the States I rarely crave chocolate drop cookies, and have probably gone 8 months between tastings. Here in Africa, however, I make them almost weekly, restraining myself from making them more often. I am deducing that this is not simply that I cannot resist a chocolate/peanut butter combination (which is true), but that these cookies have powerful associations with home. I don’t remember the first time I had these cookies, but I remember so many different occasions that have called for making chocolate drop cookies in the Hadley household.
This morning I went to church with a dear friend I’ve made here, Meme Koko. The fact that this was only my second time to church since arriving in Africa almost makes it needless to say that I am constantly thinking of Trinity- the church plant I am a part of in Nashville, Tennessee. I so look forward to rejoining them in August. I think about each Sunday I am missing, wonder how everyone is, inhale the pictures and stories posted on blogs, and happily sigh at the thought of the new babies that are joining my tender, Christ-centered church family.
I am so looking forward to reuniting with everyone once again when I am back home in Tennessee. I say Tennessee rather than Knoxville or Nashville because I am starting to see that I am torn between two homes. I have lived in Knoxville for 18 years, love my family there, enjoy time with friends, and adore my church family there. I have only gone to Vanderbilt for 3 years, and really been a true part of Nashville for 2 years, but that time has been so concentrated with beautiful friendships that I feel at home there too. Unfortunately, I will only be able to stay In Knoxville a few days between Namibia and Nashville, so that time will have to be chock full of exchanging stories, catching up, and appreciating America. Yes, it will be hard to leave Oshakati and say good-bye to all the relationships I have begun here, but I know it will be a sweet reunion when I am finally back home (whether that home be Nashville or Knoxville).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Locking up every day and night has become a new habit. At Vandy the doors lock automatically behind you, and the threat of crime on the 12th floor of a dormitory is pretty low. Home here, however, I must lock the gate to our yard, the barred door, the actual door, and the bolt lock. I feel very safe in my city, but the locks certainly help to calm any of my worrying tendencies.

Tuesday morning I got myself into a bit of a pickle with locks. During a trip to the bathroom before the staff meeting, I realized the stall I had chosen was missing a door handle. When I got the door to close without the door handle, I was quite proud of myself. When it was time to leave, however, I realized the bigger problem. I had to climb up the toilet, over the stall wall, and onto the adjoining stall’s toilet. I am proud to say I did not fall into or step into the neighbor toilet at all, and was able to escape before anyone came in. This was in the staff bathroom at school, and the staff meeting was happening in the adjacent room. I suppose I could’ve hollered for help and they would’ve heard me, but apparently I haven’t given up on maintaining some level of dignity with my colleagues.

Every afternoon I must lock up the library and computer lab after school. I close all the windows, lock the individual rooms, set the alarm, and then lock the building doors. I have become pretty good at using the keys here, but opening one of the doors in the mornings still gives me trouble every once in a while. The first whole week I couldn't do it, and had to ask a passing teacher, or sometimes even a learner, to unlock it for me. While I am trying to maintain my dignity and composure, learning the ways of this place has definitely required a lot of humility, as I have to ask for assistance constantly and for answers to questions frequently.

For example, one day during school the secretary came to me and told me I had to go with a man from Oshakati Premiere to check the meter. I had no idea what she was talking about, and I explained that I needed to start a class. She said I should go right away anyways, so I got into a truck with a man named Charles, and he started driving me to my house. Apparently the electricity meter had to be checked, but the yard’s gate had to be unlocked to read it. I am unsure why I had to go (I was about to start a class) and not Mary (who was just reading in the library), and I don't know why it couldn't wait until the end of the day, but I just did what I was told. Sometimes it seems that as soon as I think I have everything figured out here and that I am really getting the swing of life in Namibia, something comes up that makes me reconsider my assessment.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oshakati vs. Nashvegas

Things that are the same as life in Nashville

·      Craving certain foods (pizza, turkey burgers, chocolate, Chinese food, barbecue)
·      Baking to relax
·      Delaying taking the trash out as long as possible
·      Laughing at my own jokes even when no one else does
·      Making excuses
·      Students get on Facebook when they are supposed to be doing schoolwork.
·      When bored, thinking about how to model real life phenomenon in a computer program
·      Lots of walking
·      Enjoying where I am while still missing home
·      Over thinking (bordering on obsessing) about how to take the most efficient path places
·      Daydreaming
·      Falling asleep working (slash not working) on the computer
·      Acknowledging everyone you pass
·      Pretending germs don’t exist when it’s more convenient that way
·      Being paranoid about closing my curtains all the time
·      Wishing I could dance adequately
·      Movie watching
·      Never sitting at my desk to do work

Things that are different from life in Nashville

·      Looking forward to eating on campus (someone is cooking for me 24/7? Yes please!
·      Having no qualms putting my dirty feet inside my sleeping bag
·      Jaywalking because I would walk miles before finding a crosswalk
·      My vocabulary declining
·      Not seeing the midnight premier of Harry Potter because the closest movie theatre is 10 hours away, and won’t show that film for another month.
·      Running being more exhausting (it also isn’t getting any easier with the 4 week break I’ve taken…)
·      Less green grass, trees, bushes, and what what
·      Wearing professional clothes everyday
·      Being asleep at 8 pm
·      Rachel isn’t around to ask me if I mean to be asleep
·      Not fake texting when passing people I don’t want to greet
·      Men being much more direct and forward
·      The toilet flushing lever being on the right side of the toilet
·      A spider just smaller than my palm is on the wall next to my bed, and sleeping just fine.
·      Not being able to remember the last time I rode in an elevator
·      No one getting my puns (at least in Nashville they are met with a groan of acknowledgement, as opposed to here where I get a blank stare or confusion)
·      Watching the same movie again and again
·      A full greeting for each person you pass or interact with
·      Tomato sauce = ketchup

Things that are hard to get used to:

·      Cars driving on the left side of the road
·      Cars only slowing for pedestrians in crosswalks
·      1 Namibia dollar being equal to about 15 cents
·      Needing to allow a whole day at home to do laundry
·      Re-wearing clothes because I need to allow a whole day at home to do laundry
·      Eating breakfast at 6, lunch at 10, then dinner at 4:45
·      Everything starting later than scheduled
·      Experiencing winter and pretty cold weather in the mornings, but still warm temperatures in the afternoons
·      My gas stove
·      People constantly asking what I am doing here (I guess it’d be weird if this happened in Nashville)
·      Kids touching my hair when they think I won’t notice
·      Cold showers [I didn’t think this would be as hard to get used to as it is. I suppose all my cold showers in the past have been after a day on a hot roof (you can be a World Changer) or after an intense game of soccer in Florida (Spring SPOTS anyone?). The fact that it’s already cold when I shower makes it another notch harder]
·      Everything closing early in the day
·      Being alone more
·      Namlish phrases
·      Dish soap that does about nothing

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A-typical Weekend

After posting about the typical school day, I thought about posting what a typical weekend here may look like, when I realized that I still don’t have a typical weekend!

Weekend 1: Orientation in Windhoek- learning about Namibia, touring Windhoek, sessions, sessions, and more sessions!

Weekend 2: First weekend in Oshakati and got settled in. Worked on my puzzle a lot, watched movies, rearranged furniture, went to the grocery store, finally hooked up the stove, enjoyed the sunlight since the power and water were out for a large part of Sunday

Weekend 3: 3-day weekend due to National Holiday (Day of the African Child). Elise came to visit in Oshakati. Did tons of laundry, grocery shopped, went to a shebeen, open markets in Oshakati, World Music Day Festival, watched a rugby game, made popcorn, watched some movies, wandered around the city, and ate out at a pizza place.

Weekend 4: Learners came over to the house, went to school’s Entrepreneurship Day, got a tour of Oshakati & Ongwediva from the principal, went to the sports tournament in Ongwediva, took a taxi to Omongwelume, saw cows in the road, sat 4 to a backseat, saw a man eat spine, went to a WorldTeach party in Omongwelume, ate pizza, went to church with the principal, went to the nearby water park, ate pizza again, played with new friends there, read, and lesson planned

Weekend 5: Made chocolate drop cookies, worked on the puzzle, made French toast, rode to Tsumeb, hung out with the other volunteers, looked at peacocks, wandered around Tsumeb, found a traveling carnival, ate pizza, awoke to roosters, went to Etosha National Park, went on a safari, got fries from the grocery store, talked about teaching here, had a braii, discussed Teach for America and the education system in America.

Weekend 6: Took a mini-bus to Tsumeb, stayed in a hostel, took a taxi to Grootfontein, had breakfast at a café, found the Old German Fort Museum, looked at German colonial artifacts, learned that the spring had dried up, got a ride to Otjiwarango, went to the Crocodile ranch, sat in a minibus for a couple hours, rode to Swakupmond, met other volunteers for pizza, watched some soccer games, got breakfast at the grocery store, went sand-quadding and sand-boarding, ate lunch at the beach, went to the market, realized all the stores were closed, took my 4th hot shower since arriving in Africa, went to the grocery store, ate delicious Oshifima (African porridge- most similar to oatmeal), went to a German pub (got a yummy apple pie there), had omelets, toast, and potatoes for breakfast, sat in a minibus for 10 hours, snacked on granola, received 10 dollars room an old man, arrived at home.