Friday, November 18, 2005

Day 11 (17-Nov 21h10)

Well, no weird dreams last night- bummer.

I was very disconcerted this morning to find out that my blog site is down. Hopefully it will be up tomorrow morning so I can post. If not, I’ll just email these entries to friends and family; better than nothing. It’s been difficult for me knowing that my blog is not up. It’s weird, but I feel like I’m communicating when I know you all can get on and read; knowing that I can post whenever I need to. Now that it’s down, I’ve had all sorts of urges to setup a new blog, to go into town to buy a phone card, to do something. But it will be back up soon.

Today, we had a light work load. We started the day in language groups, spending half of that time walking around Omaruru trying to talk to people. Conversations are very difficult when all you can say is “hi’, “how are you?”, and “what is your name?”. Never the less, enough people were kind and patient with us to make the experience worth while. The people of Omaruru are very kind. They must be telling this same story to the rest of their family right now, only with a different perspective; they were quite amused. The first phrase I picked up was “Ek Probir Afrikaans”, or “I am learning Afrikaans”: Very helpful.

After ham biscuits (morning tea), we started technical training, talking about scope of work, syllabi, and lesson plans. We got some more details about how school works here, most of which is surprising. Youth have eight 40 minute periods each day, going to school from 7 to 1. There are no transition times, so nearly every class is cut short as learners move from one room to the next.

I was also surprised to learn that due to teacher shortages, some schools have subjects that have no teachers. During these class periods, the kids just sit in an empty classroom doing homework and making trouble. Amazing. I’ve also got a weak sense of what a difficult job it is improving education in Namibia. The fact that the Namibian government is putting so many resources into the problem is very reassuring. There’s no doubt that given enough time, it will get better. Until then, progress is measured very differently than the states. Here, a passing grade is 30%. Here, extra-curricular activities are few and crowded; teachers cannot be spared to teach them. Here, English is the single most important subject, above math, science, and social studies.

It’s a very cool night. The wind has picked up (maybe 10 or 15 mph) and washes the day’s heat from our skin. Today was the hottest yet- 105. But it’s all forgotten now, just the perfectly cool breeze under the perfectly bright stars. The sounds of trees dancing in the wind drift from a large forested area next to camp. Crickets seem to be a bit more cautious on these nights, perhaps not trusting the unpredictable gusts that sweep all memory of the sun’s relentless sojourn. It will be hot again tomorrow, but now, it’s nice.

We just got done listening to some PCV’s who are getting ready to head home. They had some amazing stories to share and plenty of advice. It’s great hearing from them, they simultaneously seem like peers and superiors; peers because they are close in age and share this huge thing that is PeaceCorps Namibia; superiors because they have done something that seems monumental to us, completing two years of service. It was reassuring to hear their memories of uncertainty, wondering if they were going to make it. It was warming to hear the stories of lives they influenced for the better. I was proud to listen to the projects they worked on, knowing that in some indirect and currently insignificant way, I am a part of it all.

I am ready now more than ever before. I have stopped worrying about the details of my assignment, what specific things I want to do. All of that will come in time. For now, I will focus on language training. I will do my best to listen and learn, and to recognize that very soon I will be on my own. But I am ready.

I’ve spoken with TK (our training manager- have I mentioned him before?) about setting up an Internet cafĂ© here. I don’t know why the thought is just now coming to me, but it’s here none the less. It will take a bit of work, but we’re going to try to connect four or five of our laptops together so that they all share the dialup connection here. As long as everyone sticks to email, it should work fine. We’ll give it a try tomorrow morning.

I’m watching the EOS’ing (End of Service) PCVs right now, talking and enjoying their last days in Namibia. In some ways, looking forward to two years from now when I will be one of these PCV’s is more real than thinking about the next two years of service. I have no idea what my service will be like, but I can get an idea of what these guys are feeling, being on the other side of a long journey, looking forward to seeing family and friends again. It must be amazing.

Another cool breeze.
While laying in this hammock, looking up at the stars, listening to laughing friends, breathing in the African air, it’s hard to remember home. Home is in my heart; my family and friends are with me always. It seems a shame to look inward right now when I always have what is within. This moment is truly one of a kind. So I keep my eyes open. Memories are saved so that special moments can be created when the stars dim, the air is still, and friends are far away.


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Dad said...

Thanks for link, I've missed your updates. Sounds as if you are adjusting well. I can wait to hear you speak their Afrikaan. I miss you, but knowning what you are doing helps. Life goes on hear anothing major happening, Jana is trying to buy a house. We are going to paint the kitchen next week. I am looking forward to our call on Sunday...Dad

Paul said...

We missed you as well. I am the dad of Amy, one of your teammates. I have been reading your posts faithfully and have passed on the links to other interested family and friends. We have heard from her directly too (although our phone connection last Sunday was ill-fated) but enjoy your perspective and details. Say hi to her from us.