Thursday, April 26, 2012

April's Almost Gone??

Whew it’s been a while. April has been a bit hectic, so I’ll update you on the goings-on in Luda. Over Easter Weekend we had about 15 volunteers here for the Crayfish Festival, which was a blast. I realized that I am one of two volunteers in the south of Nam that has not read the Game of Thrones series, so that is now on my immediate to-do list, if I want to be involved in the heated conversations and repeated inferences to that world. In addition to the large blocks of time spent discussing that series/show, we were able to get some eating in. The festival was held at the Waterfront, with lots of booths selling crayfish, and others selling traditional Namibian food and braii meat.  It was awesome to see so many people in town – normally it seems as if no one is in the town [people stay in the location mostly], and on this weekend I saw at least half of my learners on the waterfront! Then after a few days of relaxation it was off to Omaruru!

On Monday a few of us from Luderitz started heading up to this town for a gardening workshop. As it was the first time I was leaving Luderitz in four months, I was pretty much thrilled to see green things at all, but this town had so many cool plants and trees! And now after this gardening workshop I will never look at them the same way. The person doing the training had been in the Peace Corps as an Agriculture Volunteer twenty or so years ago, and his training was extremely interesting, I feel like I learned so much. Hopefully I will be able to get a garden going, though there are a fair amount of obstacles that would lie in my way in Luderitz [intense wind, no rain, soil = sand + rock, no green]. However, there are people here who maintain gardens, so next term I will make an effort to talk to all the people who have cool plants in front of their houses and maybe we can make it work! Also in Omaruru I got to see a bunch of 34 friends and have a mini-reunion. One of them, Alex, had her birthday on our last day there, so to celebrate we went and toured/had a mini-wine tasting at the small vineyard just outside of town. Our tour finished just as we watched a standard gorgeous African sunset, ending an amazing week. Of course, as travelling goes in the south, another typical trying to get home story to add to the saga – waiting 6 and a half hours to get a lift to Luderitz… didn’t even try to hike, was totally willing to pay, there was just no one going there at all. I think this country has really helped me become verrrrry patient. Oh, and I should note that the combi driver blasted for three of the three and a half hours Phil Collins Greatest Hits, only to be followed by even BETTER Celine. And then we almost hit a springbok, guess it got confused by the car in the road when it started to run towards instead of away from us. These antelope, ahhhtata.

Upon returning to Luds, exams had already begun at DPS. Things got a little frantic with the marking, but finally it all was finished. There is SO much paperwork and formalities involved in marking and the end of term, but as of today it is over! Tomorrow I’m outta this town! I think spending some time away will definitely help me love and appreciate this place! The odds are it will be another month until this blog gets updated – that is unless I magically get internet in the bush. Some of the family is about to be here and we’ll be off on an epic adventure! On a different note, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I graduated college… wow that time really flew by!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

When I Let the Kids Go Wild... On Purpose!

I decided to let the kids do some singing during our last period friday class. This is 6A [used to be the worst class, turned one of the best after some real talk with the principal]. They too love "Waving Flag!" The video is super shaky, sorry about that, my camera has had a rough 7 months!

The End is Near [Of Term 1, That Is]!!!

Hey people!

April 1st is tomorrow, and all I can say is Praise the Lord!!! There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and I can see it quite clearly now! April brings the crayfish festival, FINALLY getting out of town for the first time in almost 4 months, seeing other volunteer friends, and the end of the term, closely followed by May, which brings my family and an African adventure!

Last weekend we had teambuilding with the staff at my school, which was pretty entertaining – sidenote: I probably gained 8 pounds within 36 hours. I had forgotten how much Namibians love meat. AKA my breakfast on Saturday was enough to feed a small family, it consisted of [and I kid you not] a russian, three large pieces of bacon, two hard boiled eggs, two butter sandwiches, and a fully dressed and substantially-sized hamburger. Did I eat it all? You bet I did. This was also all before 9 am, and unsurprisingly, I did not eat for the rest of the day. Anyway back to it, I think teambuilding was really helpful with getting to spend time with the other teachers and staff outside of a work context, and I had a lot of fun.  I had to face my fear of dancing in the middle of a circle of naturally talented dancers, but I did my best to break it down… 7 hours of blasting namjams and dance partying ways isn’t that bad eh?
Proof that I did, indeed, dance in front of 30 other teachers. Luckily I had a department head to look silly with me!
In the morning the events that transpired were interesting. We were told to set up a tent, so about half the staff went out to set it up. First off, I was confused because this was at 7 am, aka the time we were supposed to be leaving for our field trip. I tried to voice this, but was told that we would be kicked out of the bungalow at 10 so we needed the tent up – but why is it necessary if we’re not even going to be here the rest of the day??! Logic: 0, Teambuilding: 1. Now, this tent was MASSIVE. Like could have a raging party under it. Also, there was one, just one, hammer to get all the stakes into the ground. Thus proceeded one of the more frustrating hours of my life, as we tried to get the tent up before the wind got too strong and blew it away, some random Afrikaners came and said it was their land we were on, we paused while that dispute was settled, then recommenced with the work, and finally it was done. After said hearty breakfast, we abandoned the tent that had taken so long to put up, only to get in the buses to leave for our trip. As the driver started the car, we got the news that our permits for the Sperrgebeit hadn’t been signed, so we couldn’t go anymore. We headed into the tent, where we decided to call it a day on teambuilding, and took the tent down. !!!!!!!!!!!!! those exclamation marks are all that can express my emotions, no words. But hey, everyone still had a good time.

Anyway, school-wise I’m just finishing up my CASS marks, but this week I also finally got the library to a pretty good ending point for the term. With maybe two more days of work it will be ready for use [as in I will have finished arranging everything on shelves and logging all of the books into a computer!], so we’ll be training library prefects during the first week of Term Two! I’m so excited, and I know the kids are as well to finally have this library opened. I wish I had taken before and after pictures. Hopefully over break I’ll get some neon colored posters with which I’ll set up labels for the different sections and other fun decorations. After that I’ll show the finished product. On this note, a massive shipment of school-related items was just donated and unveiled at the high school by the US Embassy. Love you America, and I truly appreciate the sweet swivel chair I can now sit on in the computer lab!!! I got to go with my principal to sort through/handpick books from an enormous box for our library, and I am extremely happy with our haul. We now have a lot more age-appropriate books, including a solid collection of Dr. Seuss! Many of the books we have on our shelves are wonderful, but really beyond the vocabulary and reading level of the learners. Either way, the kids are not picky and are thrilled to have their hands on any kind of reading material, so our library-opening day will surely be mayhem!

Other than that, I’ve discussed having a world map project with my principal, and he’s on board! I feel strongly about this project, since the world map in my classroom pretty much blows my learners’ minds. Literally groups of them will just come in during the break and stare at it. I’ve tried to involve talking about cultures/stories from other parts of the world in my lessons, and they get really excited about seeing where the other countries are. I’ve been fairly shocked at how little some of the kids know about the world outside of this remote little town [and geography, as in, I asked a kid to come up and find India, she didn’t know, so I told her it was in Asia… so she went to Brazil]. Anyway I think it would be really nice for all 900 learners to have access to a world map, and peace corps volunteers worldwide are pretty involved in the world map project, so I’ve decided to try and tackle it as well! I just have to figure out how/where to get funding for the paint and get a couple other teachers on board with me, and then it’s a go! Really crossing my fingers that this project can get started next term, so we’ll see!

Final update, today was Big Walk, an event at Diaz PS just for fun, when the learners pay 5 dollars, then we walk from the school to the point just before reaching Agate Beach. Then once we’ve returned they get a sandwich, cool drink, and chips. The walk was nice, albeit long – about 2 and a half hours. It was cool though because we walked through Area 7, which is one of the informal settlements that about half of my learners come from. There is one road that cars can use to pass through this area, and on either side are rows of shacks that extend for a while. Some of the kids pointed out where they lived to me, and I got to chat with one of the sweetest Grade 6s almost the whole walk! Our walk ended at the start of the massive sand dunes, which reminded me that oh yeah, I live in Africa!
A few of my grade 6 boys, I took this a little late but they all had their arms around each other. so cute!!
I started to play some music for the kids from my phone on the way back, and they asked for some Namibian music once they’d had their fill of Bieber and ‘Call Me Maybe’ [but seriously how awesome is that song?!] On that note, here is another namjam that I have recently become very obsessed with. This song is super popular right now. In Namibia there are two main rappers, and apparently they don’t like each other/get along, so you support either one or another [or so it seems after hearing from the kids]. Their names are Gazza and The Dogg. This is Gazza, “Seelima,” it has such a catchy beat! Ondiku hole means ‘I love you’ in Oshiwambo; that’s what he’s saying over and over. Hope the link works: Seelima!