Going Guatemalan

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Hi All!

I hope that you had a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving in Namibia was fun and a pretty good success considering that I’m in Africa. Several of the other Peace Corps Volunteers got together in Ondangwa and prepared a Thanksgiving meal. We did have a turkey, and we were able to pull together enough ingredients to make a good stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie. Although the other volunteers are a type of family here, but I was still missing all of you!

Life has been pretty good in general. Most of the things that used to frustrate me about Africa have stopped being such a pain, and life seems to be going more smoothly now. I can feel myself relaxing a little bit more and definitely feeling at home. When things don’t run on time it’s much easier for me to just shrug my shoulders and go with the flow. I now understand the need to squish four people into the cab of a small truck. I’ve also hit the one year mark of being in Namibia, and although I don’t feel any wiser than I did when I first landed, I can say that the time is flying by. I’ve been told the second year goes by even faster, and I’m excited to see what the year ahead brings.

This term has gone by pretty quickly. Besides teaching I have been busy with debate club. There was a debating competition for the upper primary learners (grades 5-7). I was able to take a couple learners to the regional phase, and it was an incredible experience for all of them. One of my learners, Martin, is perhaps one of my favorite success stories yet. His strength is that he can form solid arguments and quick rebuttals. But his lack of self-confidence and quiet manner of speaking reduced his speaking points. But as the competition progressed, he started to gain confidence, making eye contact, speaking loud and clearly, and at the end of the competition when I told him I was proud of him, he responded, “I’m proud too.” Our team took second place.

My grade 10 learners took their exams in October, and since then I was only teaching three periods a day. The remainder of the classes just started taking their exams. The exams are going better than before, but not quite to my expectations. Most learners will fail, but there’s only so many ways I can teach them that 5x5 is 25 and not 10. They will finish next week, and after a week of administrative duties, I’ll have a six week vacation.

Vacation plans are to visit South Africa and Swaziland. I’ll be traveling on my own, but I’m excited for it because I’ll get to go anywhere I want and do whatever I want on impulse. I’m hoping to spend a few days in Maputo (Mozambique) then to come through Swaziland, and make my way along the coast through Durban and end up in Cape Town for Christmas. Some of the other volunteers will be in Cape Town for Christmas, so I’ll meet up with them for a nice dinner, and maybe do a wine tour.

This term I was also working on organizing my community to rebuild classrooms. For all of you who have been asking what you can do to help my school, I finally have the answer. The first grade classrooms at my school are in extremely poor condition and are in desperate need of refurbishment. I’ve submitted a proposal to Peace Corps and it has been approved for the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which will allow people in the States to donate directly too my school. The proposal can be found online at: https://www.peacecorps.gov/resources/donors/contribute/regioncontrib.cfm?region=africa The program requires the community to contribute 25% of the project costs, which they are
raising through donations and fundraisers. I’m now relying on friends and family to donate to this project to complete the funding and make it a success. You can donate online.

I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I’ll let everyone know how the holiday goes. Send me some of your Thanksgiving and Christmas photos!

With Love,

P.S. Here are some photos of the classrooms that I want to rebuild.

Sharp glass and locks on the doors pose a health and safety risk to learners and teachers

Many windows are missing glass and holes in the wall allow dust into the classrooms

First grade students with their teachers

The ceiling is caving down inside the classroom

Large holes distract learners from concentrating on their work