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!