Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 19

Day 19 (26-Nov 7h30)

Another great day. The days seem so short here! After meandering a bit downtown, I met up with Mr. Gallant and the school custodian/mechanic who came to fix the locks on two of my doors. That took nearly two hours, after which I headed to school and worked in the computer lab.

I found a small piece of gold in the lab- a syllabus for computer skills made by ICDL (International Computer Drivers License), a British company that promotes computer literacy world-wide and especially in Africa. I’m planning on using this syllabus as the core for the class structure next year. This is exactly what I needed, something solid I could use to craft lessons around without resorting to starting from scratch.

After school, all the teachers had an end-of-year party at one of their houses. We all crammed into the comby (15-passenger van that’s about half the size of the US 15-passenger van) and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and talking. It was great to get a chance to get to know some more teachers. I’m starting to recognize their faces now, which is very comforting as I was sure this was an insurmountable task; so many new faces all at once.

The last of us left around 17h00 after I helped the host with some computer problems, and I spent the rest of the evening reading the syllabus and dreaming about how the class will run next year. I’m out of movies (didn’t bring that many), so I had to resort to old episodes of “The Family Guy”, a very off-beat comedy, for entertainment.

Something of note: the house we had the party at was located in a formerly white community. This neighborhood was very nice; wide streets, gates, tall trees, and an impressive view. All of Windhoek is like this, categorized primarily by the skin color of its previous residence. In the case of formerly white communities, many blacks and coloreds have moved in. But with formerly black or colored communities, they have changed very little.

There is a great deal of concern about corruption in the government here as well. In a local instance, the Hage Geingob High School (the school I’ll be working at) is supposed to have three new classrooms built by the ministry. Foundations were laid, but before any more work was done, the ministry-employed project manager was investigated for fraud, which stopped all work. The case is still pending; a rich ministry official dodging fraud allegations while students at the school have classes outside, the school forced by the ministry to take in the students that would have filled these unfinished classrooms.

Only two days left in Windhoek. Today (Saturday) I go with Mr. Hoxobeb to a church choir party; I’m not sure exactly what that entails, but I assume there will be some singing. After that, I plan on spending some time in my kitchen cleaning and washing dishes, leaving as little incentive as possible for the current inhabitants to stick around. The various bugs are nearly vanquished from my flat now, the only visitors are the ones that fly in through the windows, which are pretty much always open.

Earlier yesterday I really wanted to just stay here and start working, skipping the PeaceCorps training that is coming up. Now, I’m ready to leave, to get some perspective, and learn a bit more Afrikaans. The teachers were all very impressed with my Afrikaans, limited as it was, and I look forward to being able to converse with them in something other than Namlish. Namlish is the Namibian version of English (a joke), and takes some getting used to. Many of the more fluent speakers have a strong British accent, and there are many words and phrases that make no sense to me now. For instance, if you want something done now, you say “now now”, because one “now” just doesn’t cut it here. Also, formalities that are only used for show in the States (Sir, Mam, Gentleman) are used regularly here. It’s Namlish, and it’s just different enough to leave you silent, while everyone else laughs at a joke, wondering what the heck the punch line was.

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