Posted by: kam6761 | March 7, 2008

Birthday Blog

My week back was overwhelmingly successful. When I walked into class on Monday, my learners gave me a standing ovation and were so excited to see me. One of my learners had even baked me cookies, which happen to be one of my favorite things in the world!


While I was absent I had sent some lesson plans to the school to have the learners execute themselves. There aren’t substitute teachers here, so if a teacher is absent the learners just sit in the classroom unattended. I sat there and wrote detailed plans, asking specific learners to do specific tasks (one learner wrote information on the board, another walked around to make sure the learners did the work, another wrote the names of learners who misbehaved, etc.). I was so surprised and so impressed to find out that they successfully did everything I asked them to, and it made the transition into my lessons for this week swift and smooth.


This week was also quite nice because Tuesday was my birthday, and my learners were more excited about it than I was. On Tuesday I went to my 6A class during their break, to begin writing notes on the board and prepare for the class, and the learners were so wonderful. As I was writing on the board, they stood and danced, singing “Happy Birthday” in both English and Oshikwanyama. They must have sang it 20 times before class started, and it made my birthday really special.


Unfortunately, I gave a spelling test on my birthday and found several learners cheating. It really upset me because I’d like to think of all of my learners as honest, little angels, and I would much rather a learner honestly fail than dishonestly pass. I caught one learner cheating that particularly upset me, so I called him out later while the class was doing an activity and confronted him. I told him that I knew he was very smart and that he didn’t need to cheat to pass, and he was so ashamed. He started crying and it made me feel awful, but I hope that he took my chastising as a form of encouragement as well.


Another not so fun part of my week was starting ICDL classes. It’s called the International Computer Driver’s License and I’m supposed to be teaching the teachers at my school all about computers. This is problematic because I don’t know a lot about computers (why bother learning when I have such a wonderful, talented, intelligent husband that knows ALL about them??), and it’s also problematic because the teachers are TERRIBLE (I repeat, TERRIBLE) students. I think most teachers are coming because the principal will excuse the teachers who want to take ICDL classes from teaching remedial classes to the learners, so many teachers just showed up and talked while I was teaching, did other work on the computer and pretty much did anything they could to be inattentive and rude. I think I’ve roped Dan into teaching the class with me so that the days are more bearable, but I really don’t like teaching computers or adults. I think I am a pretty firm disciplinarian, and my learners at this point are generally well behaved because of it. However, I feel strange reprimanding my coworkers when they are not behaving properly and it makes for an uncomfortable environment for me. It’s one thing to firmly chastise an 11 year old, and another to scold a grown woman. It just irritates me not only because their behavior is inappropriate, but especially because they are the people who the learners are modeling their behavior after.


In other news, the security guard at our school is still inexplicably turning visitors away. I’m guessing that the previous volunteers had some sort of system worked out about when kids could visit, because he seems to let them in sometimes and refuses to let them in at other times. Yesterday I baked a cake for the kids and was disappointed when nobody showed up for playtime. Then, at 6:30, a girl showed up at our door and said she “told the security a joke.” I think this was her unintentional euphemism for lying, because when the guard told her that she couldn’t come in, she told him that a teacher sent her to give me a message. Clever, clever girl! I was already making dinner at that point so she only came in briefly for a piece of cake, but she seemed content with that.


And so that’s all, folks! Right now we are in Oshakati waiting to meet up with a fellow volunteer who is going to take us back to her house in Okahao for the weekend. Several other WorldTeach volunteers will be there and I’m looking forward to the company. My coworkers are fluent in English but there is often still a disconnect in conversation, and the strongest bonds we have made in the community are with the children. These bonds are held together with Bingo and Ring Toss, so they’re obviously not very deep and meaningful! Daniel and I have talked about how nice it will be when we go back to America because we will be able to say ANYTHING and EVERYONE will understand us. We can communicate basic things, but the art of conversation is a bit more difficult! There is one teacher in particular that I spend a lot of time talking to, because he is very curious about America and is generally more well informed about current affairs than I am, so he keeps me updated! Besides him though, it’s just Dan and the limited contact we have with the other volunteers. The other teachers know basic English so we greet each other daily, but I miss being surrounded by lots of people that I could talk about anything with. Daniel and I are counting down the days until his parents come, and I am already so excited about seeing my family in August. Other people should come visit, too! Our village is quite nice and we’ve got an extra bedroom… 🙂



  1. So glad to see the words “overwhelmingly successful.” Your blogs are so wonderful, and (along with Dan’s) a highlight of our week! I’m glad you had a happy birthday and such a kind welcome from your learners.

  2. Wow, what a blog! Just reading it is quite an experience so living it must be extroardinary.
    Though Michelle and I were commited to visiting originally it looks like that won’t happen based on our recent news (plus we wouldn’t want to put the wall spiders out). Really glad to see you’re getting your health back and your classes are progressing. Happy Birthday and best to you and Dan!


  3. Kathryn,
    Happy Birthday.
    Learned about how you were not feeling well on Daniel’s Blog. Glad to hear you are better now.
    Naomi, Dan’s couz our daughter, will be spending a few weeks in Thailand this summer on a community service program. We saw your blog on your stay there.
    Keep up the good work.


  4. You brought tears to my eyes reading about how the children were questioned especially the little boy without shoes. How sad that so many have no parents. I was waiting for a new update and read this one many times over. Glad you had a holiday break for Easter. We missed you. Sorry the bugs are still invading your food. Please be careful of what youn drink and eat. One illness is enough already, don’t need another. Take care. Love you Gam.

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