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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finishing the day

 If I only have afternoon classes, then I either work on my computer or work on organizing the library while Mary teaches her classes in the lab. If there are Grade 8 Physical Science classes that morning, I go and teach the lesson I’ve planned (we just finished studying Gases in the Air). At 10:10 we have our lunch break and I eat my pb&j and Clementine. Some learners come and ask if they can work in the lab- I let a few older ones that are doing homework come in and I tell the younger learners they must go play, eat, and use the bathroom instead. After break I have ICT classes, where I teach the same lesson over and over until everyone has heard it and I am so sick of teaching it that I am sure it is no longer (if it ever was) interesting.

I only see each ICT class twice a week, and because of the limits of computers, I feel like I have been teaching the same lesson for the past 3 weeks. I wanted them to practice the formatting tools we’ve learned in Microsoft Office Word, but I had no idea how long it would take them each to write the letters I assigned.

After classes are over at 2:00 the computer lab is open for one hour for learners who need to do homework. Mondays thru Wednesdays I keep it open until 4 since the older learners are in study until 3:20. During this time I help learners print research, get the computers started, and kick out learners who are not doing work. It is probably the most exhausting part of the day. When it’s time to close up I send all the learners away, help the few stragglers who need it, close all the windows, lock up the lab and library, and change back into my Chacos. Mary and I walk home, I justify waiting another day to buy more groceries (I can eat soup one more day!), walk past the pharmacy, turn onto the street, I look for my footprints in the sand from the morning, greet people as we pass, and arrive home. As soon as I get in the door I wash my hands, rinse the dirt off my feet, get a glass of water or juice from the fridge, change out of my dress pants or skirts into shorts, and if I plan on wearing my shirt again before doing laundry, I change into a t-shirt, then collapse on the bed.

I read a bit, cook my dinner, work a little on my puzzle, look over my schedule for the next day, maybe take a shower, get ready for bed, take my malaria medicine, set my alarm, read a chapter or two in my book, turn on UP on my computer, set a timer, roll over, and fall asleep.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Typical Day- Arriving at School

Upon arriving at school we pass the memes (ladies) selling sweets and fat cakes (fried dough balls), and I talk myself out of getting a 50-cent ball of fresh tastiness that surely takes me halfway to my recommended daily caloric intake (kJ here). As we walk across the school yard some of the learners will say, “Good morning, Miss” or smile and wave. Usually the younger kids are running around and chasing one another, and older learners are talking to one another in small groups.

If we can successfully unlock all our doors (sometimes a learner will help), we drop off our belongings at the computer lab, start up the computer server, and I change from my Chacos to dress shoes. Mary and I go to our staff meeting, either with the whole staff or I go with the Science department. There are about 40 teachers at my school, almost an even mix of men and women. The Science department is about 8 teachers, mostly men, and the staff room has tables filled with papers to be graded, notebooks, and a miniature pool table. To begin the meetings we have prayers, then there are announcements and reminders that pertain to the staff, then the first class should start at 7:30. Usually the meetings go right until 7:30, so classes start a little later, but that is always just fine with the learners!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Typical Morning

So, after being in Oshakati for 3 weeks now, I feel that I have established a routine enough to describe a typical day. I know my last post was long, so I figured I would split this into several different posts, so that I can give details without overwhelming. I’ll start at the beginning.

I wake up to my alarm at 5:30, and get on the Internet for about 30 minutes while it is free or read a little before getting out of my sleeping bag and braving the cold air. By six o’clock I finally get up, fix myself a bowl of Rice Krispies, and work on the puzzle while I eat. While I eat I can hear the roosters crowing. I put on my professional teacher clothes and Chacos, stow a pair of dress shoes in my backpack, and bag a pb&j sandwich, a Clementine, and my water bottle for lunch. I collect the school things I need that have been scattered throughout the house during the course of the previous day, put away my computer, grab my jacket, remember something I’ve forgotten, then unlock all the doors, set the security alarm, and leave, locking all the doors behind me. I wait a few minutes for Mary in the yard while I hear her setting her alarm and locking up next door.

We walk down the sand street, turn at the corner, go past the pharmacy, and turn to the school. We pass a few neighbors and learners going on their way, and say, “Good morning,” and “How are you?” to which the responses are always, “Good morning,” “Fine, and how are you?” We manage to make it to school without getting run over by cars and taxis that honk at us every time they pass. Mary finishes her breakfast as we walk and discards the orange peels, eggshells, or apple cores as we go. There are a few dogs wandering around the streets and chickens clucking in people’s yards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Light here is a critical part of everyday life. The sun sets my internal clock. I know it’s really time to get out of bed when there is light coming through the curtain. If the sun is up it means I need to be productive- either at school, or cooking, or preparing for the next day. As twilight approaches, it’s time to be home. I get tired almost as soon as the sun is down. Once it is really dark out, it’s time to go to bed.

Not only does it set my schedule, but light also has come to mean safety. Traveling through town and between cities- the roads are just not safe to drive on at night. Some of the safety of light is purely mental. The first night I got here the light in my bedroom was not working. I was trying to unpack in a completely new place, and by the light of a headlamp. It was so discouraging and scary that night to feel all alone in a dark bedroom. In addition, the porch light of my house doesn’t work, and it’s a bit unnerving coming home in the dark, even if it’s just from the duplex next door. It is hard to see all the locks and fit the keys in, but once I am inside and safe and in the light it is so much better.

Early in the mornings, when the sun has just risen it is very cold- it is hard to keep my toes on my feet as we walk to school in the new morning sun. Walking in the sun, however, is so much better than walking in the shade or being in the house. The longer the sun is out, the warmer it gets. Walking home in the afternoon is warm and wonderful, especially when there is a breeze. I pack away my jacket and sweater, put back on my Chacos, and soak it up!

Being in the light of the sun is warming and feels great, but after a while it is also exhausting. Especially here where we are so much closer to the Equator than I am used to, a day in the sun is draining. Even just standing and sitting in the sun watching sports on Saturday was so tiring. Sunday, Mary and I spent the afternoon at a park, and even though we didn’t do much (we did play with some children for a while), we were so exhausted when we got home!

So as great as the sunlight makes me feel, the night sky here is pretty amazing. With the decrease in artificial light, the stars are multiplied in number and brightness. We can even see the Milky Way. The other night there was a lunar eclipse, but unfortunately I didn’t hear about it until the day after when all my learners asked me if I had stayed up to see it. I wish I could put into words how amazing the starry sky looks here, but it really is incredible.

I heard a man tell a story the other day about hunting in his childhood in Namibia. He said they would hunt “jungle hares” and easily kill them by simply shining artificial light at them. The hares would freeze, confused by this strange phenomenon, and it was then easily caught and killed. Now days, these jungle hares are used to the lights, and know to run away as soon as they see them. It is so interesting to me how everything adapts to technology.

I finally was able to go to church this past Sunday- our principal took us. It was a very nice service, and it was great to hear the church sing about the glory of God. The sermon talked about Christ as the light of the world, and how we are supposed to show His light until his return. What a wonderful reminder. Not only should this encourage our spirit, but also encourage our actions. Pray that I will be a light at my school and that I will find other ways to serve while I am here.

It is clear that I allow the light that God created to affect my actions, give me courage, change my attitudes, give me energy, and inspire awe- may the same be said for the light that is God- Christ Jesus.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Little Women

The past few days I have felt a bit under the weather. I’m not sure if it was allergies or a cold (it is winter here), but I am sure it was not fun. I was well enough to go to school and continue on with life, but not well enough to really feel 100% or clean the accumulating dishes in the kitchen, go to the grocery store, or really commit to lesson planning. So the other night, as soon as we got home from school (around 4:40) I made myself scrambled eggs and toast (what my mom used to make me when I was sick), got into my pajamas, took a Nyquil, and curled up in my bed watching Little Women. Yearly my friends from Vanderbilt and I have watched Little Women. I love each of the characters in their own way, and last night I particularly loved Marmy and her wisdom and caring for her children. While I am so glad to be here, I cannot help but wish I had my own “Marmy” here to make my eggs for me and clean my dishes and make me feel better. I slept 10-11 hours the past few nights, and am feeling better. Thank God for my returning help, and ask for continued recovery. I have also still been working on finding a church here, so pray that it will all come together soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sounds of Home

Living in the Oshakati volunteer housing allows me to hear all sorts of life happening around me. I heard 2 cats battling under a pile of brush in front of our house. I hear dogs howling at night. I hear miscellaneous birds every night and morning. Some of them sound like machines or alarms, so at first I was a bit thrown off. I hear roosters crowing in the morning. At night I hear the pounding bass of the occasional car passing by. In the morning I hear the pick-up trucks and vans rambling by. During the afternoon I hear walkers talking as they head home from work. Today I heard children playing a game of tag, and some screams accompanying the game. Living as an outsider in this new culture makes it a lot easier to notice things, and makes me wonder what I miss hearing when I am home because I am so used to it I don’t listen anymore.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dress to Impress

Everyday Mary and I walk to school to be at the staff meeting at 7:00. Yesterday was the first time we did it without making any wrong turns or having to stop and ask directions. We were unsure about a turn, then saw some children in green sweaters (the school uniform) and decided it was the best option to just follow them. They unknowingly led their directionally-challenged new teachers right to school just in time for our meeting. Not only are the uniforms useful for getting to school, but it also makes teaching them seem so much easier. I’m not sure what it is, but something about kids looking sharp in their school uniforms lining up to come into class makes me feel like, “Okay, they are just kids, I can do this!”
Clothing can really change your perception of someone. At the rugby match yesterday, our team was preparing the field and practicing throwing the ball in their uniform pants and t-shirts or collared shirts. They looked a bit rag-tag all in different things. The other team (an all white-team from a private school in the neighboring city) rolled up in their van and all piled out in their red and black uniforms. Even though my learners assured me we would definitely win the match, I couldn’t help thinking, “We are in trouble.” I watched as they practiced throwing, picking up their team mates and kicking. All hope was lost. Then our team came out. They had transformed from a mismatched team in school clothes to a unified team in matching green, numbered jerseys, white shorts, green socks, and white shoes. “We’ve got this,” I thought to myself. “It’s in the bag. We’re back!” Of course we did win, and by several scores, but it still makes me chuckle just thinking about how much appearances seem to sway me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life with Learners

It’s 5:50 pm and I am ready for bed. Because it is not very safe to go out after dark here (there is no street lighting), that means it is safe to get completely prepared for bed at 6 and go to sleep at 7. Teaching the past two days has been exhausting but great. The past year or so I have really been wondering if teaching is something I really want to go into, or if other educational avenues would be better. While I cannot yet say which direction I will be heading, I definitely think this summer is giving me a good taste of what it is like to be a teacher. Some of the students are wonderful and sweet, while others are a little rowdy and disruptive. Of course back in the US, some of the attention I get as a teacher will be gone because I will no longer be the new white American teacher with the funny accent.
I am really enjoying the learners. Here are some stories:
-Today after school I stayed to watch the Rugby team play, since some of my learners are on the team and told me, “You must come watch us play!” (we won by a lot- I’m not sure how much b/c I don’t know exactly what was happening)
-Waiting for the game to start, I acquired a small possy of 3rd grade girls. One of them told me, “Your legs are so white!” I asked the girls if they knew any hand games, and they showed me a game almost identical to one they played at Western Heights in Knoxville last summer.
-I took pictures of each learner holding up a piece of paper with their name on it so I can try and learn the names. This gets lots of different reactions (hide behind name, put on lip gloss or fix hair, or try in be everyone’s picture), but everyone always wants to see what their picture looked like, even if they were very nonchalant about the whole thing.
-I have been telling the kids I am 83 years old. Some take this to mean 38, others know I am joking, and others are slightly confused. One girl goes, “You are older than my grandma! You don’t look that old- you look more like you are 21!” (I almost told her she was right since she guessed so accurately, but I didn’t want to ruin my rep as a “real adult”).
-The learners all call me “Miss.” I get “Good morning, Miss,” “Hello, Miss,” “Good afternoon, Miss,” “Here, Miss!” and “Sorry, Miss,” (which I soon learned means “what are you talking about, lady, I am so confused!!!”)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ongiini from Oshakati

If you read nothing else:
Praises: I have made it safely to my placement city, and I’m finding everyone here very helpful and friendly. The teacher whose classes we are taking over is taking me to church Sunday.
Requests: Pray that the fruit of the spirit will show through me in the classroom, around town, and in my attitude. Also that God will continue to protect me and keep me safe and healthy. Also that church on Sunday will be in English.
I am living next door to Mary, the other Oshakati volunteer, and we have been walking to school and the store together. So far I have only met four other people living in this house- the wall spiders that I am not willing to attempt to evict. Otherwise it is just little old me in this large 2-bedroom flat (complete with security system and multiple lock door). I believe a little kitty may help me evict my little friends, and a doggy may help add even more security (even if it’s just emotional security).
Last week during orientation we continued to learn about Namibia, talked about teaching here, and went over safety again and again. After orientation I feel really prepared safety-wise, and know that I have help just a phone call away with the field directors, should any problems arise. We also visited a few different places in Windhoek. We saw an area filled with homes built from metal scrap. The 26 of us with WorldTeach walked around and met some wonderful people. There were dogs and chickens roaming around, beautiful children walking down the streets, and adults washing clothes, visiting with neighbors, and eyeing this mostly white and college-aged group canvasing the area. In the same city we saw gated and secured neighborhoods, as well as 2 huge mansions where the Prime Minister and President lives. We’ve talked a lot about the financial issues facing Namibia, and educating the students about technology hopefully will provide this upcoming generation in Namibia with new opportunities in this global economy that is so largely technology-based.
We rode with Lucas, a Ministry of Education official, from Windhoek to Oshakati (about a 9-hour drive- Lucas was a champ!), then Mary and I were taken to our new housing, given a tour, introduced to some colleagues, and driven by the school so we could find it the next day. Well, we still had a little trouble finding our way around today, despite the tour, but we never got completely lost. Our home is a bit plain, so I keep not noticing we are here! Some exciting things from the day:
-1st night in the new city- fell asleep to Monsters Inc. at 7:30
-1st learners we met- Grade 10 (Tech)- The 47 learners waited outside the door in a girls line and boys line to come into class, then waited to sit down until the teacher said they could. They also all looked very sharp in their green and white uniforms.
-1st class taught- Grade 8- 40+ learners and 20 computers that are very slow and often freeze- improvised a lesson about different vocabulary words in Microsoft Office Word.
-1st taxi ride- after we unloaded all our groceries, the driver asked us to push his car down the hill to help get it started.
-1st meal in Oshakati that isn’t pb&j- bowl of Rice Krispies for dinner tonight (don’t worry, Granny,- the stove is on the way, and I did get lots of fruits & veggies).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Orientation report

Since arriving in Windhoek I've been spending time at WorldTeach Orientation with the other summer volunteers and the semester volunteers. I am really ejoying getting to spend time with the others and experience the initial culture experiences with others who are in the same boat. I can't believe that on Thursday I'll be on my way to my placement and on Thursday I'll be at my placement school in Oshakati- wow!

In orientation we've gone over a lot of the safety measures we need to be thinking about, how to keep in touch with each other and home, and learning about the culture and history here. I've been learning a lot, and am excited to be immersed, but like I said, I'm enjoying spending the time with the other volunteers. I've been drinking a lot of hot tea (Rooibos- thanks Julie Hunt for helping me acquire a taste for tea!) We've been mostly having sandwiches and cereal to eat for lunch and breakfast. For dinner we had spaghetti last night and Namibian barbecue the night before- yum!

Prayer- continue to pray for those I come in contact with, that I can share my personal purposes for coming with them, and that I would continue to be protected and safe. Psalm 62 was in my biblestudy yesterday, and verse 8 has become one of my prayers: "Trust in Him at all times you people; Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's up from Windhoek

Hallelujah- I made it to Namibia! I am at the hostel our group is staying at for the week during orientation. It's been a long past 50+ hours- traveling to New York, Dubai, Johannesburg, and now Windhoek. I got a little sick in the Dubai airport, but doing much better now that we are done flying. Might have been the meds, might've been the flying, and definitely glad it's over!

There are about 16 of us here for the summer, and we are all sitting around on our computers getting back in touch with home.

As I begin this adventure, my willingness to trust are definitely being put to the test. I have to trust the WorldTeach has prepared me adequately to come here and will prepare me for my teaching placement. Most of all I have to trust that God has a plan through all this and that he will use me for his glory while I am here, that he will protect me and guide me on this adventure. I have already seen Him at work on this trip, and can't wait to see what's in store!

Please pray for the other volunteers I'm with, that I can be a light to them. In addition, that God will open my heart, mind, and eyes to see Him at work, create a desire to join Him there, and for me to trust in His plan. Pray for the students and teachers I'll be with, that their hearts would be open to me showing them Christ's love. Praise God for bringing me here safely and for his continued provision.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hello from Knoxville!

So I'm not quite in Oshakati yet, but it is definitely approaching quickly!

First, an explanation of this blog title: "ongaipi" means "hello" in Oshiwambo, which is the native language spoken in Northern Namibia (specifically Oshakati), where I will be located for the remainder of the summer.

Second, the travel plans are this: I am leaving Knoxville on Tuesday, May 31, and arriving in New York City, where I will stay the night. Wednesday, June 1, I will be meeting with the rest of the group traveling to Namibia with WorldTeach, and will fly through Dubai and Johannesburg to arrive in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia and the location of our orientation for the summer. From there we will all go to our individual locations and get started at our schools (there is one other girl stationed at the same school as me- hooray!)

I am so excited to start this adventure and would really appreciate everyone's prayers, especially as I travel and get situated there for the summer! Hopefully I will be able to update pretty regularly, so if you are interested in keeping up with what's going on I'd love for you to follow, or subscribe, or check-in every once in a while- thanks so much for all the support you have already given been providing!