Sunday, January 29, 2012

Strange Happenings

Soooo last weekend apart from intense amounts of sleep, and a 2 hr stint as the only customer at the internet café [why yes, patrons, I did order a brownie sundae all for myself, it was delicious too! I know your stares were more of longing and jealousy than judgment], I went for a hike! This is out of character for me, yet more and more I keep hearing myself say that I’ve hiked… kind of weird. The reason I went on said hike was to see this cool place outside town called 2nd Lagoon. So at around 11, Megan and Leah [the two other PCVs in town from Group 33] and I set out for what turned out to be an adventure. They wanted to take a slightly easier path and avoid climbing up, down, and across the cliffs, so we took a different route. Unfortunately we double-guessed ourselves, and thinking we’d gone too far, turned around and backtracked the other way up the cliffs. I wish I could have taken pictures up there because the rocks were really interesting looking, lots of colors and awesome striping! Also I found some kind of antelope horn! Sadly I learned my lesson of not cliff climbing with camera the hard way… the first time I hiked the cliff behind my house I definitely fell on the way down, camera in hand. It survived, but did sustain injuries to the screen, so now I take mental images and focus on where I’m stepping! Suffice it to say, I felt like I was on the moon because that’s really what it looked like! All the time I trailed Megan and Leah I couldn’t seem to get “Climb Every Mountain” out of my head, despite the fact that I couldn’t remember all the words! After searching for probably twice the amount of time it takes to get there, we found the lagoon. Turned out we hadn’t gone far enough. The sign to the Sperrgebiet we had encountered had freaked us out prematurely – it was the official barrier that we couldn’t cross to the left side of or risk getting into trouble for being in the restricted area. Anyway, this lagoon was awesome, and we watched the water come in as we ate snacks on the rocks, and laughed at the seagulls getting blown away by the intensity of the wind. It was a great way to spend a Sunday, though my legs are extremely sore and I did manage to get sunburned in some weird spots, despite my sunscreen application. Ouch. It was worth it! 

On a different note, the Friday before this hike,  the Governor of the Karas region called all the teachers from the region to a meeting in Keetmanshoop. I was literally picked up at 3:45 am to make it to the bus, yikes. It was definitely cool to see how many teachers are in this region, at least for the public schools. The Governor highlighted successes [my principal was mentioned for continuously advocating for a new high school to be built in Luderitz!], and made a speech about the state of education in Namibia [not to his liking]. He referred to the Asian system of schooling and how advanced it is, and then went on to say that Namibia must not strive to emulate the US Education System, because even it is dated to the 19th century, so if that is true where is the Namibian Education System?? He estimated 13/14th century. In my opinion, the Asian system is not looking like a possibility here, there are way too many cultural differences in values for that to happen. However, the governor did say that he is going to try to change the hours of the school day to make it longer, which I agree with strongly. Right now it’s from 7:30 to 1:30, that’s it. Most other schools I’ve heard of in Namibia offer afternoon study, but my school doesn’t. The governor said he is going to try to extend the hours until 4. He went on to say that 20 cents out of every dollar spent here goes to the education system, and of that huge amount, 80-90 percent of it is allocated to teacher salaries, which seems slightly outrageous. He stated that if this is to be the case, he expects student performance to be much higher. He also said that poverty is a choice, which was definitely a statement that teachers from my school did not react positively to. There are so many structural factors in play in this country that it’s really impossible to call poverty a ‘choice.’ For his ideas to take effect it seems as if the system will really need to shift to being learner-centered, rather than revolving around the needs of teachers [my opinion]. Hmmm, lots to think about. 
I'll talk about the super strange first few weeks of school another time, but for now lets just say, of the first 9 days of school the kids came to my classroom for a grand total of 2 days... nambles. 
Another important update: somehow I have ended up the head coach for one of the three track and field teams [go blue house!], despite the fact that I know nothing about track and field events and can’t run. Even though the other two blue house coaches have participated extensively in track events, they are a) puzzled why we don’t have a field and the kids are running around on the rocky/hilly landscape instead [newsflash: there is no grass for a field here!!!!] and b] both newly arrived from the north teachers where the kids sit in fear and don’t dare make noise, quite the opposite of these kids, so their quiet teachers voices just aren’t cutting it. No idea how this is going to work, especially when it comes to shotputs/highjumps/what else is there?? Also, fun fact, athletics are completely finished in mid-February. They also take place during the school day at Diaz Primary, because god forbid we stay after school to do something. apologies for the sarcasm :) needless to say I'm really hoping that we move athletics back to after-school activities, because shortening the schedule to 20 minute classes isn't even worth having a schedule. It's hard enough to get 40 kids to come into the classroom and settle down, with 20 minute classes that leaves maybe 10 minutes of teaching time. Anyway, more updates another time when the internet isn't being flaky, but last fun update: Leah and I made bagels last night, they were just about the most delicious things ever [apart from the homemade tortilla chips we did a couple weeks ago] ok julle totsiens!

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