Going Guatemalan

Very little planning,but sure to me lots of fun!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Greetings once again from Namibia!

Hi all!

I hope this letter finds everyone happy and healthy. As everyone in the States is wrapping up school for the summer vacation, just the opposite is happening here. Our school has just finished a four week break and we have been back in session for two weeks now. I returned from an excellent holiday backpacking through the Naukluft Mountains. Its getting quite cold here now as we enter the dead of winter in the southern hemisphere (we had frost on the car last week), but I'm enjoying the beautiful weather while it lasts.

The highlight of my vacation was an 8-day backpacking trip through the Naukluft Mountain, said to be one of the hardest hikes in Southern Africa. Its hard to describe what the trail was like, but the trip was absolutely amazing. The scenery changed so quickly day-to-day. There is such a diverse beauty that Namibia has to offer. The first day we trekked through a riverbed and then up a mountain to a beautiful panoramic view of an ancient valley. Other days we walked through a huge canyon with the cliff walls shooting straight above us. At some points we relied on chains to navigate the steepest parts of the trail. Some days we hiked for miles across endless plains or desert lands. Wildlife was few and far between, but we did manage to see a herd of zebra, some springbok, gemsbok a kudu and lots of rodent-type creatures. I hope pictures will come soon.

My holiday was so amazing that it was difficult to start up with school again. Our school has been quite chaotic as one of our teachers transferred and our principal is on sick leave, so we have struggling with staff shortages. In addition to my grade 9 Math and grade 8 English, I have starting teaching grade 10 life science. Its a lot of extra work, but I really enjoy teaching biology. Its given me this renewed energy to teach and the learners are appreciative as they take their exit exams in November. Although its a lot of work, it is only temporary until we hire a new teacher. We are looking for a language teacher so I will be giving up my English classes in exchange for the life science classes. I'm sad that I won't be teaching the grade 8 learners anymore as I have become quite attached to them, but it will be good not to have to try and teach English anymore, something I feel very unequipped to do.

Extracurricular activities have also started picking up again. My English club meets twice a week and we have a lot in store this term. While one of my colleagues teaches stage acting to the learners, I will be teaching computer skills, hopefully enough to start a school newspaper next term. We are also trying to organize an educational tour for the learners of different parts of Namibia. I want to take the children out of Owamboland and to the Namibian Parliament in Windhoek, and to Swakupmund where they can see the ocean and the aquarium. The idea is to show them how learning English and studying hard can reward them.

I have also been part of a small group planning the Northern Girls Conference, a leadership training conference for school aged girls. Next week we will train 8 teachers and grade 11 peer-leaders to facilitate the conference. In July, the facilitators and my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers will hold the conference and give 80 grade 8 and 9 learners skills in protecting themselves from HIV, decision making and have discussions in self-esteem and relationships. The idea is that the girls can use these leadership skill at their schools to set up and maintain HIV and AIDS clubs or girls clubs. I'm really excited for the conference and I know we have some really valuable and useful sessions.

Thank you again to everyone for your continued thoughts and support. I cannot say it enough. I love receiving all of you emails and letters. There's a few personal messages below. I apologize for not being able to respond to everyone individually, but my computer time is so limited. Send me your mailing address, I'll be sure to write you a nice long letter :)

Isaac - Congratulations! You have worked long and hard to finish high school. Sorry I can't be there to see you walk, but I'm thinking of you. I can't believe my baby brother is graduating from high school!

Jenny - Congratulations to you also! Of course for quite a different reason, but I'm really excited for you. Wish I could be there to pick out a dress with you and stand next to you at the alter, but um....I'm in Africa....gonna be a little hard to make it back. Just don't have too many babies before I get home. I still want to play bumber babies with you.

Lorraine - Another congratulations...you rock. I hope you finished college with a big of a bang as you finished the track season. I loved reading your emails - they make me smile. What's next for you? PT school? Back to Jamaica?

Stephanie - I hope that your research is as much as you want it to be. I miss the science field and it reminds me of all those long nights studying for O. Chem and Biochem together. Thanks for keeping me updated on all your where abouts, its so good to know what people at home are doing - give me some nostalgia about the States :)

Lee-Ann - I love reading about everything you're up to in Swaziland. Interested in having a visitor this December? Got a six week holiday and I would love to see you and all the kids that you always write about!

Krist, Auntie Pauline, Auntie Lori, Po-Po, and all the others who have sent me care packages, THANKS! Love the books and the American food. Its nice to have some comforts from home. I especially love the pictures.

Until next time,
With Love,