So before I left I sat down and created a list of important things to have here in Namibia. Among these things was a USB drive, because it would allow me to write my blogs offline and then just pop them on when I had a chance to get to an internet cafe. This is the approach I thought made the most sense. So I spent many hours this past week writing a detailed account of the events and impressions of my experience thus far, stored it onto my handy dandy USB drive, and then brought it to the internet cafe I am sitting at right now. As you have probably guessed by this point, the internet cafe does not have USB ports, so my five page long blog is going to have to be posted at a later date (I hope, assuming I can find an internet cafe that actually has USB ports).
For now, I will give you a very brief update of what has been going on. We arrived roughly three weeks ago and have been busy with teacher training, practice teaching, Embassy briefings and “cultural training” ever since. We are also both taking Oshikwinyama, which is the dialect of Oshiwambo that is spoken where we will be teaching (Omungwelume). Last week we had four days of practice teaching that we actually did in Omungwelume, so Dan and I got a sneak peek of our site. Now we are back in Windhoek (we got back here on Sunday for a final week of training), but are headed back up North to Omungwelume tomorrow morning. Omungwelume, our village, is a large village with a paved road running through it. Along the main road are shabeens (the word here for bars), small markets, and a couple of “China shops” (these are apparently really common here. From what I’ve heard they’re essentially dollar stores that carry items that Chinese factories make, are found to be defective, and are then unsellable in most countries. I wonder where all the lead toys are going to end up??). Most people live in traditional homesteads, which are the traditional huts that many of you probably imagine when you envision small African villages. Families live in a compound with a stick fence around the perimeter, and then inside are many huts that are essentially different rooms (bedrooms, kitchen, etc.). Dan and I are actually lucky enough to have been assigned to a real house on the schoolgrounds of the secondary school (what we would consider high school) of the village. There is a security guard posted outside who is, as far as I can tell, someone who must have just been given a job for the sake of employing people. The village is so small and community centered that crime, besides petty theft, isn’t a problem, so the guard spends most of his time sleeping at the gate or having friends sit with him to hang out while he “guards” the school. I should also mention that he is unarmed, so I’m not sure how much guarding he would be able to do if it was necessary!!
The village sprawls out off of the main road and becomes sand as far as the eye can see. The school where Dan will work and we will both live is located a bit off of the main road so cars and people trek through the sand to get there. My school is located right off of the main road, but since I am living at the senior secondary school I’ll be trekking through the sand every day! During our week of practice teaching in Omungwelume we became something like celebrities. In the Owambo culture it is important that you greet everyone as you pass them, so I’m quite sure I met a good portion of the people living there. Some of the other WorldTeach volunteers would come back from exercising or running errands town and tell me about the people who asked about me along the way. It’s going to be very strange living in a place where everyone knows EVERYTHING about everyone else, which I’m sure will be magnified by the fact that Dan and I are a bit conspicuous looking in a small African village! Every time we left the school grounds, groups of children would inevitably appear out of nowhere and begin speaking to us in whatever English they knew. It was adorable to talk with the really little kids, when the conversation generally went as follows:
Me: Hello! How are you?
Child: I AM FINE!!!!
Me: Good! Are you having fun playing?
Child: I AM FINE!!!
Me: Do you live close to here?
Child: I AM FINE!!!
I think you get the gist…! After our practice teaching in our village we had a short break in Etosha, the national game park in Namibia. A break was definitely needed– we were all running on fumes after two weeks of training and teaching that generally went from 8am to 6pm or later. In Etosha we got to see lots of fun animals– giraffes, lions, elephants, zebras, and many more. I got a TON of pictures and promise to post some later (yes, they’re on my USB drive as well!). After our day in Etosha, we came back to Windhoek (the capital city) and have been doing some final training here for the past few days. It’s so hard to believe that in just a few days I will be teaching my first REAL class!
I am feeling incredibly excited but also incredibly nervous. It’s beginning to sink in that we’ll be here for a YEAR, and that is so long and yet so short at the same time. I have so many projects I want to start and I hope I have enough time to implement them! I only have three minutes left before the computer logs off, so I think now is a good stopping point. I miss all of you and promise to update this with an INCREDIBLY long, detailed post later (assuming that ANYWHERE in Namibia has a USB port!). I miss and love you all!