I hope everyone is enjoying the New Year! I can’t believe how fast time is going by. It already February and before I know it I’ll be completing my service and heading back to the States.
I had a really amazing holiday vacation that brought me back to Namibia refreshed and renewed. I traveled all over Southern Namibia and got to see so many things. The first week I was in Omaruru in Namibia assisting to train the newest Peace Corps Volunteers that arrived November last year. It was really fun to meet many of them and share my experience thus far. I enjoyed remembering my time during training, remembering how confused I was. I found myself giving answers to their questions that I didn’t even realize I knew. I was nice to realize how much I’ve learned since being here.
I left Omaruru and traveled to Swaziland to visit Lee-Ann McFarlane, a friend of mine I knew in England. It was a really nice visit – I got to travel a little bit around Swaziland visiting a cultural village and a game park, and then I stayed with my friend for a week, getting to relax in her house, having a Grey’s Anatomy Season 3 marathon and seeing her community center and the kids she works with.
I left Swaziland right before Christmas and traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to celebrate Christmas with some fellow Peace Corps Namibia Volunteers. As Christmases go, it was pretty low key – two movies at the Labia Theater (yes, there’s a movie theater called The Labia) and a pizza dinner, but I was with friends, so I really enjoyed it. While I was in Cape Town I climbed Table Mountain, a mountain smack in the middle of the city that gives the city quite a skyline, and went down to Cape Point. I got to visit Robben Island, the island where political prisoners including Nelson Mandela where held during apartheid rule. This was a really interesting experience, and although I want to compare it to Alcatraz, there’s a totally different atmosphere.
By New Years I was back in Namibia in the costal town of Swakopmund. I met some more friends there and we enjoyed a nice New Years celebration. Following, I traveled to Waterburg Park and a cheetah conservation (central Namibia) and Rundu and the Kavango region (north east Namibia). It was nice to see different parts of Namibia, especially because these areas have different tribes and cultures than the area of Namibia where I live.
School started again in mid January, and although it was difficult to return after such a great vacation, I felt much more prepared than last year. It’s much easier now that I know what I’m getting into. I’ve had some experience teaching, the language barrier is getting smaller, and I have connected to many of the people in my village. I know my learners and they know me, and I’m excited to see what the second year of volunteering will bring.
My classroom project was fully funded, thanks to all of you who contributed. I am really overwhelmed at the response I received. I didn’t expect to receive funding so quickly, and I am touched that so many people care about what happens here. Now that the funding is completed, I have started mobilizing the community to initiate work. Currently it’s the middle of the rainy season, so construction won’t start until April, but I have been meeting with community members so that details and logistics can be discussed now and not delay us later.
My teaching load also keeps me busy. I’m again teaching grade 10 life science and grade 9 math (same classes as last year) and in addition a once a week life skills class to grade 10, 8 and 5. Grade 10 and 8 are no problem, but the grade 5 learners understand very little English, so I have to be a little creative with my activities in those classes. What can you do with 35 over-energized African kids that only know 5 words of English? We play lots of Simon Says and other such games to improve their vocabulary. I’ve also unofficially picked up grade 8 English again until a temporary teacher is hired to replace the English teacher who took an extended leave of absence. I like teaching English, but its definitely not my strength. I just keep telling myself its better than nothing.
I have several other projects in mind that I want to start, but it will depend on my free time. I want to start my English club again and take those learners on another educational tour, and I would also like to take the grade 10 learners on a field trip to the local college and university campus to motivate the learners and get them thinking about their future careers. This should be a really productive year, and I’m excited to see what happens.
Thanks again for all of your contributions and support. Photos of my vacation should be following shortly, and I’ll keep you all updated on the progress of these new classrooms!