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!