Another Installment of 10 Things

I’ve been in Namibia for a while now, and with that I have thought about things that I no longer find weird! And when I went back to the US, I found a lot of things that I thought were weird, so here they are:

10 Things that no longer surprise me in Namibia:

  1. Z’s are pronounced th.
  2. Small children dancing in a way that would get them kicked out of my high school prom
  3. Men asking to marry me before they ask me my name.
  4. The smell of burning trash
  5. Animal carcasses, especially in the staff room
  6. People telling me I’m fat. It’s a common topic with my Omas, but isn’t meant to be offensive.
  7. Saying “Me I am having” Instead of “I have” . Example: Me I am having 3 markers.
  8. Drinking and Driving. It’s pretty common for someone to stop and pick up a 750 mL of Windhoek Lager just to drink on the drive home.
  9. Kids have 3 or 4 names. They have their home name, their school name, the name they gave themselves. This year I told the learners to tell me what to call them. So far I have a Ricardo, Ronaldo, Zidane, Gazza, Rihanna,  Ragga, Mcdonald and my personal favorite: Veteran.
  10. Picking your nose in public. It’s just something that’s done. No one likes to have a booger in there, so you might as well dig it out. If you only have a finger and no paper, a finger is what you will use.

10 things in the US that I had forgotten about, or surprised me:

  1. There are so many choices! There are so many different types of everything, different brands, flavors, sizes, etc.
  2. The fear of gluten. Haven’t we all be eating wheat for years? Why are so many people intolerant now?
  3. Having a computer isn’t as necessary has having a smart phone.
  4. There is an app for everything. The one app that blew my mind was the one that showed you the location of taxis nearby. “My favorite app is the one before my entree” – Liz Lemon
  5. You can find whatever you need, and if it isn’t in the store you can order it online.
  6. TV On Demand. Hulu, Netflix.
  7. Internet is SO FAST
  8. Public transportation is actually public, cheap, and follows a schedule. If the bus says its coming at 10:15 it will be there at 10:15.
  9. People waste food. This goes with people eating things that are tasty, not things that will keep them from being hungry.
  10. Children understand the language you are speaking, and they are not afraid to voice their own opinions, express themselves, whine, and complain. Children are also doted upon, and their every need is taken care of for them

 

 

I am  adjusted back to life in the village! While I will always miss being close to family and friends, as well as all the conveniences in America, I am happy to be back. I have a lot of work to do, and only 7 months to do it! The first thing on my agenda is Camp GLOW. As many of you know, I am co-chair for Camp GLOW, a youth development camp for learners ages 12-19 from all over Namibia! The camp will be hosted April 19-26, only a month away! We have been working very hard to collect donations so that the camp is completely free for all of the kids and facilitators, but we still need some help. If you can help out, please donate and make Camp GLOW 2013 the best possible camp it can be!!

You may donate here: http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/camp-glow-2013

For more information about Camp GLOW, you can visit our website at http://campglownamibia.weebly.com/.

If you are curious to see what Camp GLOW Looks Like, or you are bored at work, watch this video of Camp GLOW 2012http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsXWbgZg10c

Camp GLOW is such a great program, I am really excited to be a part of it again this year!  You can be also, all it takes is Us$20!

Thanks for reading, thanks for donating, thanks for following what I am doing in Namibia!

 

norusuvera

Iwaneka

Celebrating Life Stateside

A lot of things have happened in the past few months!

I finished my first year as a teacher

I met my friend Sarah in Cape Town and we went shark diving, climbed table mountain, saw penguins, went to the Cape of Good Hope, toured wine country, and so much more.

I traveled Cape Town, Victoria Falls, and Namibia with my dad and Elle (pictures are on Facebook)

We opened a temporary hostel at school and I started my second year of teaching.

I spent the second half of February in the US.

Two weeks ago, my Nana, my grandmother on my mother’s side, passed away. When it was clear she was not doing well my mother booked me a ticket home, but I did not make it in time to say goodbye, but I was ok with that. My nana was always a hard worker, and worked hard for 87 years. I found more comfort in knowing she was able to rest than sadness that I did not get to say goodbye.

Before she left, I told my learners and colleagues about her, and asked the entire school to make a birthday card for her. The grade 6 and 7 learners made signs that said “Happy Birthday NaNa ❤ LNPS!” and after morning assembly the Monday that I left we took pictures with the entire school. It  was really nice.

A few learners even wrote me really sweet letters before I left. Here is one that brought me to tears :

“”goodbye miss mathias. We will pray so Nana could be okay. I think that you must give us a lot of homework so that we can do it. We do not want to fail math. Go make Nana the happiest grandmother in the whole world”

Ahhhh I love these kids! Sometimes they are so sweet and thoughtful!

Anyway, I left my village that Monday, flew out Tuesday,  and got to the US on Wednesday, hoping to make it for my Nana’s 87th birthday on Valentines day. Unfortunately, she passed Tuesday morning, after my family partied in her room Monday night. True story.

As you may well know, my family comes from an Irish background. My Nana was born in Ireland and moved to the US when she was only three years old.

An Irish funeral, and especially an Irish funeral in my family, is more a celebration of life. We sang, we ate, we drank, we danced.

In the end, my Nana’s passing was a bit of a blessing in disguise. These past few weeks I was able to reconnect with family and friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. While I didn’t feel like I needed to come home when I was in Namibia, It was really quite comforting and I am glad I did it. I was also able to spend some time with my dog Casey, who at 15 years or so probably won’t make it until I return for good in December.

Right now I’m on my way back to the Namibian heat on a layover in London. With bags full of girl scout cookies, American candy, and a t-shirt with Obama’s face on it that I bought in the airport in DC, I am ready for the last lap of my Peace Corps Service.

While in the States I kept seeing things that I wanted to take back with me. I had a bit of an issue going into dollar stores and Target, both places have a great selection of teacher aids and learning materials!

I thought about my learners all the time; what they were doing, whether my principal was teaching them like he told me he would, whether it had rained yet. I even missed speaking in Otjiheraro (or at least attempting to speak in Otjheraro)

So, while I wait in Heathrow Airport I am eager to get back and get to work! I have so much to teach, and not enough time to do it in! Technically the school term does not end until April 20, but with Easter Break and a day off on March 21 for Namibian Independence day, there really isn’t much time left in the term. I have about three and a half weeks to teach everything I am supposed to get through in the term: whole number operations, common fractions, and data handling.

As I mentioned, my school is very different this year. In an effort to increase the number of learners and avoid having multi-grade classrooms, a temporary hostel was opened at the school. And by hostel, I mean two classrooms were emptied of furniture and filled with children. According to the principal we have over 80 kids living in these classrooms. They brought mattresses from home, and every morning they stack them on the sides of the room so they have space to move around. I really don’t know how they do it, I can barely sleep at night from the heat and I am the only person sleeping in my two room flat.

Ludwig Ndinda Primary is SO DIFFERENT THIS YEAR. There are more learners, more teachers, and overall there is more energy at the school. So far I really enjoy having the kids around, but I do miss having small class sizes.

Last year I taught 42 learners total; 21 in grade 5, 11 in grade 6 and 10 in grade 7. This year I have 35 in grade 5, 30 in grade 6 and 15 in grade 7. Those are the numbers when I left in mid-February, there could be even more kids now! While these are still relatively small class sizes compared to many schools in Namibia, it’s a huge change for me! I had to scavenge around the school to find pieces of furniture for the kids to sit on and write on. I ran out of scraps, so three kids in grade 5 lay a piece of wood across three broken chair frames to make a bench. It isn’t ideal, but it’s better than standing.

This year I am only teaching grade 6 and 7 math, and grade 5, 6, and 7 Basic Information Studies. The principal has taken over grade 5 math classes, and a volunteer from the community comes and teaches computers. All of my most frustrating and least favorite classes have been taking over by other teachers!

Without the frustrations of those classes I have been free to get more involved with other activities as school, like our track and field event (which they just call athletics) , and a beauty pageant for valentines day (which is really just kids in little amounts of clothing walking around a stage) .

When I get back to school I am also looking forward to starting a Grassroot Soccer group at school. Grassroot soccer (http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/) is an afterschool soccer program that incorporates life lessons on HIV/AIDS, gender awareness, etc into the practices. I have heard great things about it, and cannot wait to start a club at Ludwig Ndinda!

That’s all for now. I am curious to see what my school will be like when I return. We could have new teachers, new buildings, new learners, new chairs, or everything could be the same. Either way, I am excited and cannot wait to get back!

Stay well

Mo