(Please note: this post was written on Feb 17th)
Wow! Time is flying so fast and I can't believe its already Februrary. School is in full swing and I've finally found a routine and developed some sense of normalacy. There are so many things here that are different than schooling in the states that its hard to know where to begin. I will try and describe to you the best I can, but it will be very difficult to give you a clear picture of what life in a Namibian village is like.
I am teaching grade 8 English (2 sections) and grade 9 Math (3 sections). It keeps me pretty busy, especially during the day. I should explain here that at my school, the teachers rotate classrooms, not the learners. There are not enough desks and chairs to keep each class furnished for the different class sizes, and therefore, the learners stay in the same class all day while the teachers come and go.
One of the most frustrating things is that there is no time allotted for moving between the classrooms. Thus, if I finish a class just a few minutes late, I have already lost time in my next class, especially if I have to stop by the staff room and exchange materials. While each period is 40minutes long, I spend only about 30-35minutes teaching.
The attitude of my Namibian colleuges is also frustrating. Many of my fellow teachers don't show up on a regular basis. When they do show up, they are usually at least 30 minutes late. The teachers who are present at school, do not go to their classes regularly, or again, go to class half way through the period. The teaching skills are very poor in this country so most of the instruction that the learners receive is not productive. One of my biggest hopes is to chage this attitude, however as a young female teacher, and a foriegner, I have very little influence except to be a good example.
Although there are a lot of frustrations on the job, there are also a lot of rewards. I am having a lot of fun teaching, and the learners seam to appreciate my showing up on a regular basis and on time. There are some extremely severe academic problems that I am trying tho help the learners overcome, and I am starting to see some improvement. Its really exciting when you've been teaching how to multiply by 10's for four days and it suddenly clicks.
After school I have been starting some secondary projects. There is a computer lab here that nobody knows how to use, as well as a good library. I'll also be heading the speech and debate club and maybe and HIV/AIDS club in the future.
Living on a homestead with a family has been really good also. I've decorated my bedroom and kitchen with photos of everyone from home so I think of you all often. I enjoy sitting outside in the shade of the trees every afternoon and reading. One of my favorite parts of the day is after cooking dinner and cleaning, I get to bath under the stars. There are no city lights to dim the stars and on a clear night you can see the milky way. I have sent pictures to my parents so they might be available to view on my blog soon where these emails are posted.
Thank you so much for all of the materials that you have sent. I'm really overwhelmed by the response that I have received from everyone. I have more supplies that I know what to do with right now, and I am not lacking in anything I can't find here (I easily have a two year supply of tampons now). I would like to request that if you want to send supplies to me to wait. Part of the Peace Corps goal is to use sustainable development - that is that the things I put into action here will continue after I have left. I am trying not to just give the materials away, but to have the school and learners earn them or to trade for them. I am trying to set up a system so that I can trade the supplies for arts and crafts. The plan is to send these crafts home for anyone interested to purchase. If you want to support my community, this is perhaps one of the best ways to do this. The crafts are cheap, and it helps to stimulate the economy. I hope to organize this with the help of my mom, so if anyone is interested, please contact her. I know there are baskets and jewlery available and I am looking into what other goods I can ship home easily.
Again thank you so much for all of your support. I'm so appreciative and I know that the things you have sent will make a big impact here. If anyone wants to visit, you are more that welcome to. I would love to host visitors and to introduce the learners to some of the people who have been so supportive of me!
Until next time,