Friday, November 18, 2005

Day 12 (18-Nov 24h10)

Wow, what a long day. We started with a friendly announcement from our country director (who just got into Omaruru) that drinking and training for the PeaceCorps does not mix. Whatever ambiguity existed in his remarks were settled later in the day when TK (our training director) said “whether you are on the top of the highest mountain in Omaruru or locked in the WC (water closet), you can not drink while in training.” Many were disappointed.

We walked and talked again downtown. This a quite a difficult chore, walking up to strangers and introducing yourself in a foreign language. You get all sorts, some that just look back blankly, either not speaking Afrikaans or so baffled by the tangle of sounds falling out of my mouth they forgot to respond. Some are happy to help offering corrections and teaching new words. Others just want the conversation to be over with. Most will go through the motions:

“Queie Mora!”
“Hoe Gaan Dit?”
“Bien Goot, Danke. En Met Jou?”
“Goot Danke. Tootsiens!”

There are endless variations of just a few phrases, making half the conversation time laborious silence as I slowly interpret what I hear. Sometimes I blank, like a deer in the head lights, a question asked, a pair of eyes waiting for a response, wondering if you are learning Afrikaans or just from the “special” school. It’s getting a bit easier though. Today I met a security guard, a construction worker, a grocery store manager, and some other random people I never found out much about.

After that, we were all beat, having walked around in the morning heat for nearly two hours. But there was much more ahead of us. After ham biscuits, we did some more technical training, this time talking about classroom management techniques. After lunch, we did something that everyone has been looking forward to all week- site announcements.

Since Jay and I already figured out where we were going, this was not such a big deal, but it was still neat to see where everyone was placed. The staff made a huge scale outline of Namibia in the dirt field in camp. Stones with signs marked the towns we will serve in. As we were handed our assignments, we had to find our town in this virtual Namibia. Once there, we could look around and see what other volunteers were near by. Jay was in Keetmanshoep (sp), Kim somewhere in between us. My bunk make, Mike, is close by in the south, and my fourth bunk mate is far in the north at a great jumping point for backpacking trips. All said, I think everyone was happy with their posts.
I, of course in Windhoek, had many people around me, all within a three hour drive. I’ll likely see nearly every volunteer over the next two years as they all come to Windhoek to the PC headquarters. I spoke briefly with the country director who had a very strange comment to make. I introduced myself and let him know I would be in Windhoek with him. He knew me, commented that it was important that this position was filled by someone who is “professional”, then informed me that not long ago, all PeaceCorps volunteers were pulled from Windhoek due to violence and safety issues. Chris, the PCV that is leaving, and who’s position I am filling, was the first back. Now I’m the second.

There may be opportunities to work in several areas, SchoolNet, the Ministry, and the local school, so I know there will be plenty to do. I’m looking forward to meeting the principle of the school this Sunday, she will be my supervisor and counterpart.

After that, the “IT Three” (Kim, Jay, and myself) were taken downtown to the Teacher Resource Center (TRC) to meet the manager and fix a computer. We will be doing some basic computer and Internet trainings for the staff there in two weeks. They had two brand new computers donated, and one more is on the way. We got them running and started planning for the trainings.

Back at the ranch, we had our afternoon tea (sweat bread) then endured the “hot box”, which is now what we call the conference room, while current PCV’s went over SchoolNet Namibia. SchoolNet is an organization that gets computers to the schools here. The PCV’s showed us the software on these machines and gave ideas on what to do with them. I’m starting to see more pieces of the puzzle now, and wonder if part of my service in Windhoek may be applied to integration strategies for all these computer services. Who knows.

So much to write. I’ll save it for later.

[Appended 19-Nov 14h30]

Many are getting sick now. Most a sick for just a day, then fine, but this hot climate makes any malady seem a bit worse. They have designated the once empty room in our bunks the infirmary where they stick anyone who doesn’t feel well. I felt bad when Chris started feeling sick in the evening, just as the previous occupant in the room had gotten better.

After dinner, Jay, Kim, Myself, and a current IT volunteer, Liz, went to the Sand Dragon for conversation and milk shakes. The Friday night crowed at this popular place was increased ten-fold by the various PCV and PCT groups that escaped camp to dine or get drinks. We raced the first group down there and were able to get a table. Liz shared some great information about computer classes, motivation ideas, and resources. She will undoubtedly be a resources as we get started. She still has one more year to serve.

We wrapped up the night by watching an episode of the TV series Firefly outside. There was an amazing moonrise at 22h30 which I took pictures of. Another night in the African desert.

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