I figured I might as well date these, being as it may be days or weeks before I’m able to post it! Things here are going well. Exams start next week (and they’re actually starting at Dan’s school today!) and I’m in absolute disbelief over how fast this year is flying by.
Although there are still 5 months left, I have a feeling they’re going to flash by. I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished thus far (teaching wise) and hope I can continue to make progress in the third term. I’m still frustrated with the system but am already beginning to harden towards it, which makes me feel more sympathetic for the jaded teachers. Making English the medium of instruction adds another layer of complication to teaching and makes the already wide spectrum of competency even broader. I literally have learners in my class that have completely mastered everything I’ve taught (they get American As: 90-100, versus Namibian As: 80-100), and other learners that I call my Mad-Libbers. When I ask them to write something they take random words and jumble them together: “I table to school wonderful.” It breaks my heart to see so many children left behind. I spend so much time pondering the root of the problem—lack of fluency among adults, educational attainment of parents and caretakers, and lack of resources (sadly it’s without exception that my learners who have exposure to television speak better English than learners who don’t—I don’t know if this is because learners with TVs tend to be wealthy and therefore more educated, or if the TV is really that beneficial). Whatever the reason is, I worry about the future of these children. English fluency is, by far, the worst in the North and I worry about the people here getting left behind. I hope in some way that Dan and I are helping to bridge that gap.
Some fun news is that our weekend in Windhoek was fabulous, including hot showers, Indian food, Italian food, cocktails, and a visit to my friend Weslie’s class. She teaches kids with learning disabilities, which include a completely different set of problems. She told us that many teachers treat the classroom as a daycare service, convinced that the children are incapable of actually learning. Weslie is defying that and it’s awesome. Her classroom is such a warm, nurturing environment and it was such a pleasure to spend some time in the classroom. The kids have learned half of their letters and most can count to 20, which has all been learned in the course of this year. I really respect and admire what she’s doing and it was really heartwarming to see those kids. I read them a book and had them help me in sounding out the letters, and whenever we did a letter that was the same as the first letter of one of their names they would excitedly point to the learner and say her name over and over:
”What letter is this? Ssssssssss….”
“S! S! Salmi! Salmi” (all pointing to their classmate)
Dan tried his hand at storytime as well, and it was equally as cute.
On our way back up North, we had a close encounter with a kudu (think a deer but three times bigger—they’re the reason you don’t drive at night here!). Generally on each side of the road there is a fence, in some places low and in some places quite high. We came across the kudu on a stretch of road with high “game fencing” (what Etosha and game lodges use to keep their animals in—it’s high, but obviously not insurmountable), and the poor thing was stuck. He was running along one side of the road, looking for a way back in, and then ran across our car to the other side, and he must have been so terrified. We saw him early enough on that we weren’t worried about hitting him, but I keep thinking about where he is now. I hope he found a place to get back in, or was able to jump. Otherwise he must be roadkill by now, which makes me sad to think about. I guess the fencing is generally effective, but if an animal gets out of it and can’t find its way back then it’s stuck on the road, just waiting to get hit.