When I joined the Peace Corps I didn’t realize how hard it would be being on another continent during election season, and especially election day. My election day started 7 hours before the polls even opened on the East Coast, and lasted until 6 in the morning the next day when I woke up to two text messages, one from my Tate (host father), and one from my Dad that both telling me that Obama was reelected.
Not being able to watch constant , updated news coverage, and being 7 hours ahead of the action was frustrating to say the least. My host family was gracious enough to let me park myself in front of their tv and watch CNN for an hour or two. Watching international coverage of the US election was pretty interesting, but most of the important news coverage didn’t happen until I went to sleep.
I must say, after this election I am proud to live in a state where marriage equality and a version of the dream act passed by popular vote! Go Maryland!
The past few weeks I have fallen back in love with Okahitua, my village. I love my school, the learners, and my host family. My learners even come in on Saturdays, voluntarily!
A few weeks ago I asked Grade 6 to come in for extra classes on a Saturday. They really didn’t understand fractions and I wanted them to get some extra practice before we got more in depth with decimals. Some of the kids came an hour early! And some grade 7 learners stopped by as well. I wanted to make our Saturday work more fun, because it was the weekend after all, so we made fractions with homemade play doh!
The only problem was, the kids kept trying to eat it! They loved the salt, which made cleaning up easy but getting through the lesson a bit more difficult. Look at these kids having fun and learning:
Once we finished I opened up my classroom for the kids to practice some more problems, but it turned into a dance party. I taught some of the kids the Cavanaugh Enrique dance. Since they don’t know the words it was harder for them to pick up, it’s a new goal of mine to teach them so they can do it on their own. ND Fight song will be next. Maybe that will be part of my Basic Information Science lessons next year.
Last Friday we hosted a Fun Day at school. It worked a lot like a Field Day. Andy by that I mean that most of the games the kids played were versions of games from Spring Ridge Elementary Field Day. Crabwalk soccer, sponge races, three legged races, bag races, treasure hunt, thanks Mr. Bowers! The principal was also determined to have a swimming pool. He came from Otjiwarongo, a town where Fun Days included bouncy castles, swimming pools, and all sorts of games like that. In Okahitua we don’t have money, or access to those types of things, so we make it work with what we have. What we had was dirt and plastic tarps, and the principal made a swimming pool that the kids ! And I mean L-O-V-E Loved! After about 20 minutes it turned into a giant mud pit but that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying it. They splashed, jumped, twirled and had a grand ole time. Oh, they were also naked. My principal wanted me to take pictures so I did, but I’m a little weary of putting pictures online filled with naked children. I’ll try and find some where the kids are clothed. They really did enjoy themselves SO MUCH. It was so great! Seriously, the whole day was non-stop fun. Even the teachers had a great time.
I also introduced Ludwig Ndinda Primary School to a piñata. Kids and adults thought it was hilarious. It got a little scary when it finally broke. Kids actually jumped on top of each other. One girl actually bit a kid, earning herself a time-out in Ms. Mathias’s classroom during lunch break where she wrote an apology note to the learner she made a late morning snack.
Ahhh so many great things have been happening lately. And all in the middle of the teachers strike everywhere else in Namibia (http://allafrica.com/stories/201211020728.html). My school is one of the few that is not on strike. I think it’s because we had the Fun Day, Picture Day, and our Prize Giving Ceremony during the weeks the strike became more serious.
I organized a picture day at school this past week as well. Having a picture of yourself is a pretty big deal , not many people have cameras or printers. I go to Otjiwarongo, where there are photo printing places, often enough that I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to print photos of the kids, as long as they paid in advance. So we sent letters home to parents telling them about the day, charging N$5 per picture. I went class to class, taking individual and class pictures. Some of the pictures are just hilarious. Especially the older kids. They really don’t like to smile, but LOVE to crouch. I don’t know why, maybe they saw a rap album from 1996 or something, but girls and boys alike love it. Anyway, the photo day was really successful. Learners in total ordered 86 pictures, which is a pretty big turn out for a school of less than 150. Plus, a lot of the kids got to take pictures with their friends and now will have a memory of their friends from LNPS when they go on to other schools. YAY!
I’m running out of fast internet time here, but I put some of the pictures from picture day on my facebook page, check them out! http://www.facebook.com/maureen.mathias?ref=tn_tnmn
As for my host family, my best friends are growing up! And by my best friends I mean the 3 two year olds on the homestead that I like to hang out with. Now when I come over the girl Patye always grabs my hand and drags me to say hello to my grandmother, Always! it’s so cute. She mumbles words in otjiheraro that I sort of understand, I mumble back what I think means “Patye, where are we going? Where are we going? WHERE ARE WE GOING?!” She mumbles something about a tree, or a goat, or a shoe, and I say hello to my grandmother, who after a year still thinks I understand rapid speed otjiheraro, and am fluent in Afrikaans. Every time. Then at some point Patye does something she isn’t supposed to, like eating dirt or spitting on my arm (that’s another thing she likes to do) and we’re out of grandmother’s house. It’s great. The kids are just so funny. They’ve all gotten into this bad habit of trying to crawl through my legs, even when my legs are closed. They literally stick their head where my butt is and try and barrel through. One time I let them pretend my legs were a tunnel. One time. I’ll never make that mistake again. I don’t know why they enjoy it, but they think that little game is hilarious.
I’m loving life here in Namibia, i hope you’re loving whatever you’re doing as well!
Maureen, Mo, Maureena, Iwaneka, Mafaya, Mathias, Miss, Madam, or whatever it is that you like to call me.