Tue, May. 2nd, 2006, 08:14 pm
I got a job!
Ok... so... last weekend I went to Denver, Colorado for an interview. I took Greyhound complete with all the weirdos that come with it. Good news though: I got the job!!!!!! I'll be working on grassroots campaigns for Democrats (of course). So, this weekend I'm off to Boston for training!
Sun, Nov. 27th, 2005, 09:34 pm
Oh my god Becky.... Look at....him! (5 points for random pop reference)
It's true, I'm back in America. After two years of slow internet access and no driving, I've finally come home. I suprised my family for Thanksgiving. And what a suprise! My dad's quote "Oh shit!" I don't swear in here a lot, but I think it's the quote of the week.
I literally walked into the pre-dinner football games. My brother picked me up from the airport Tuesday night and I slept at his place in Austin until we drove down for the dinner. My brother and I had to pick up one of my parents cars at the house before dinner at my grandparent's place. Well, my dad was there so he was the second to know the truth (Nick was the first). My mom called us, but my dad was cool enough not to spoil the suprise.
I walked into my parent's house for the highlight of the evening. There's almost nothing like seeing your family after two years of not. My young cousins didn't even know who I was. Andrew had the second greatest quote of the week with "Who are you?" He was 2? when I left and since I only came home from Atlanta during the holidays neither him nor his older sister knew who I am.
So, life is good. Many people ask what I'll be up to now. I'm looking for a short term job, I might go to Oregon (my mom wants to send me up there), I probably will bicycle ride across the US with Kristin- a Peace Corps buddy, and then Marshall Islands with World Teach. I need to apply for the World Teach job soon. I have decided that I can go and do whatever I want until I am 30 years old. When 2010 comes around I'll apply for graduate school to get my PhD.
First meal in America: Taco Cabana...mmmm... two years anticipation of Mexican food.
I hope everyone else had a great holiday.
Tue, Nov. 8th, 2005, 09:28 am
Normally I don't like to write about people in this thing because it's public. But, I'll only jokingly make fun of them.
I have a driver, kind of like Driving Ms. Daisy, only I'm male, younger, and my driver likes to break the speed limit- a alot. And he likes to honk at people. It kind of sounds like he has road rage, but really he is just acknowledging everyone he has ever met as he drives by. In addition, he hates the city police. To explain, city police is a new thing this year. Formerly, all crimes were handled by the national police who never gave traffic tickets. Now, city police gave a ticket to Moses for stopping on the road to drop someone off. If Moses hates anything more though, it's the kamikaze taxi drivers that buzz through Windhoek.
Conversation this morning as we see the city police pull someone over ahead of us
Moses: Ahh! City police! I hate city police.
...later as we pass the pulled over car..
Moses: Good! I hate taxis. Police need to pull them over.
My principal this year. She is a Damara and married to a born again minister. This is sort of like Southern Baptist without all the nonsense about Disney boycotts. Her favorite musician is Michael W. Smith, so I hooked her up with some tunes. She also got my donkey jerky from the farm.... delicious?? I don't interact with her (or the rest of the staff) as much as I did last year.
My old housemate. I think I mentioned him in an earlier post. He's a coloured from Cape Town (which makes him a Cape Coloured- kind of high class coloured). His classroom is always immaculate. If you're wondering how I could have survived know that I can clean a lot too. In fact, I swept my house at least once a day when living with him. (And I mean house...)
I have to say that I haven't talked with him as much as I would have liked. He's an older teacher (upper 50's, but I'm pround to say that he now has an email address. His nickname is "Uncle Tjo" (pronounced Uncle Joe)..... and he's hooked me up with Eric Clapton and The Who CDs. This guy is always funny and actually dedicated to his job.
A Head of Department. He's Herero, so stereotypically he loves cattle. I got him hooked on Encarta then Wikipedia (online encyclopedia). I even showed him how to scan pics so his desktop background is a nice big ram. He uses information found on the internet in his class preparations, so at least I did *something* here.
If ever there was a teacher who exemplified the Protestant work ethic, she's it. She runs the school tuck shop (snack counter), sports program (with another male teacher), matric (graduation party), and just about everything else at the school. I wonder what the school will be like if she ever leaves. She even gave me chocolate one day.... because I sat for 2 days printing off learner diplomas, but it was a nice gesture since most Namibians just take my work from granted.
Mrs. Classen and Mr. /Hoxobeb
Supposedly my lab prefects, but I can't say I do much with them except show them neat tricks. But, there energy astounds me sometimes.
Ndilimeke is a learner. I can't say she's the most influential learner in my life, but she's sitting right next to me so I figure I'll mention her. Also, the rumor around the school is that we're dating (which probably means she shouldn't be sitting next to me). Many learners supposedly are dating me. It's just one of those things I have to live with. Ndilimeke, whose name means "In God's hands" was an LRC this year (like student council) and always seems to attend the same concerts as me. Fun girl, but not in a dating kind of way. She has Cleopatra eyes which are also kind of cool.
Terrence and Juhwanney
Attached at the hip? These are the trouble makers with just too much time on their hands. They bring me movies and rap music then constantly bug me until they get to use the CD burner. They sometimes try to hide in my classroom if another teacher is looking for them (because they're trouble makers), but I kick them out. Normally I'd just say that they just need to grow up a little, but that'd only make them bigger trouble makers.
Grade 8 classes are notoriously difficult to teach except 8C. These kids all had computer classes in primary school so for the entire year I was able to go quickly through lessons with them. Always asking interesting computer questions, they were a pleasure to teach. If I come back in 4 years it'll be to see how these kids are doing in grade 12.
My other favourite class but only because they have a thousand personalities. Terrence and Juhwanney are in the class as is Wilhelmina, the youngest grade 11 I've ever seen (she turned 15 this year). I always joke with her about her age. Next year she's deputy head girl which is a nice thing to see.... oh yeah, she loves reading Danielle Steele (sp?) books. I actually gave her Mark Twain stories and she could understand them. (That's absolutely amazing). Other people from the class include Angeline and Ndapanda the newspaper girls full of ideas for making money. Then there's Paulus to whom I introduced origami and now he's hooked.
He's 19, but he's not like any other 19 year old I know. He's taking some grade 12 exams over again (he barely didn't make it into a university this year. I hope he passes because then he'll try to come to the US as an au pair. He's the only Namibian I know that will form his own opinion on music.
Uncle of Lungi and one hell of a nice guy. He used to live across the street from me when I lived with Mr. Gallant. I haven't seen as much of him lately since I moved to town, but he's always so nice.
Sun, Nov. 6th, 2005, 02:39 pm
Anyone who has spoken to me for at least 5 minutes will instantly find out that I love almost every type of music out there. Types that I don't like- polka, Herero music, and some nu-metal (not all, but some). So, it's not too shocking to find out that I went to a concert last night.
I met up with some Americans at the concert (not Peace Corps and very new to Namibia). One of the girls helps with counselling (sp?) at my school. Well, I went off to talk with one of my learners only to find out that the Americans have gone to get some food. A Namibian guy offers to take me to the food stands, but as it turns out- he has no idea where they are. Unlike most Namibian adventures this actually turns out cool because somehow the guards let us into the VIP section. Two of the Americans were talking to a rap group about stuff and I proceeded to hang out with these rappers for half the night.
These guys were really cool and introduced the girls and I to all the major acts performing that night. I even ended up going clubbing with their backup dancers. Those girls can really shake their asses.
In the end it was a great night- got one of the girls phone numbers and got to consult the rap group on how to improve their performance. They invited me to their house so I think I'll hang out with them this week.
In other news: People add me as their "friends" sometimes. Actually, it's kind of scary to know that people read this thing sometimes. I haven't checked out who is listed as a friend in a long time, but it was great to find one volunteer from Bulgaria. She seems to be having a good time.
Well, not really "on my way..." but I'm finishing up things here. I'm really busy, but it's a great feeling to be doing things for the last time.
Volunteers are coming into Windhoek fairly regularly now as they have exit interviews and medical examinations. Last night some volunteers got together for a nice potluck dinner.
Here is an excerpt (not from me):
When I first got to the village my neighbors told me, "We need to set you up with a woman." The hesitant volunteer replied only that he was not ready for a relationship. "No, not a relationship. I said a woman!" A little worried by the Namibian, the volunteer explained that he wasn't in a financial situation and didn't want to spend the time getting a girl. Confused by the volunteer's response, the Namibian answered, "What? You don't have eight dollars?"
-You have to love the 'special' people you meet in Namibia.
The new group is coming in soon. Thanks to google, the Peace Corps and new volunteers have read this thing. Knowing that I can get kicked out of the country, I've tried to keep this blog fairly clean and kept most of the negativity out of it.
In case you were wondering
Namibia's ET rate (quitting rate) is higher than the international average.
My group started with 46.... now: 29!
Two were medically separated, the rest quit.
We have three engagements in our group. One is between two volunteers, the other between a volunteer and her fiance. Another girl quit during training to go home to her boyfriend.
Waldo is my Peace Corps APCD - Associate Peace Corps Director (my boss). He's a great guy and has earned the respect of all the volunteers in my group. Even the cynical ones like him. He has his little quirks, one of which is his lightning fast speech. He's so fast the Americans have to tell him to slow down. I can't say that I have any really funny stories with Waldo. All I can say is that I (along with many other volunteers) are happy to have him as our boss. Part of our group present to him was a "Where's Waldo?" book sent from America.
Some thieves broke into my school and stole our internet server. Bastards! I usually don't swear, but this was a major let down. They also stole two other computers. It's not like my school is a den of crime, but still....the security guards shouldn't have been sleeping on the toilets.
What have I been up to:
1. Funeral for my principal's mother
2. Being part of a movie! I was an extra in the Sam Nujoma movie "Where Other's Wavered" I'm the assistant to the general that's bombing the Owambo's during Namibia's fight for independence. I also happen to be assisting South African Prime Minister Botha too. (You can find him in the history books under racist jerk)
3. My school postponed the school tour to Etosha, so I will leave Africa without seeing: lions, wildebeast, or rhinos :-(
4. I broke up with my girlfriend a while back. She was quite devastated. That makes it just about one of the worst days in Namibia. The worst was the English advisor...
5. My school had Matric (Prom) and the grade 12's invited me to their after party at the club. I danced all night and still managed to go to school the next day. A couple of the teachers also partied all night. The remaining staff called us the "Taliban" because we never sleep. Incidently, the staff felt bad for Americans after Katrina. As one teacher joked, "Now the Taliban can control the weather!" Note: I didn't even know about Katrina until it was all over. I watched the news headlines and read "....New Orleans under water...."
6. I'm trying to tackle War and Peace right now. I'm on page 1,057.
7. Expect to see me home December 2. That's right after school ends.
Facts about Namibia:
2nd least dense population in the entire world. Most- Mongolia
The DRC, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Niger have a higher life expectancy.
I went to see The Wedding Crashers a few weeks ago. It was a funny movie, but I just sat there asking myself how can Namibian's truly understand the joke. In Namibia it's almost impossible to crash a wedding since everyone is invited.
South Africa is having it's Idols competition. It's like American Idols, but in South Africa. I was amused to see one of the finalists since "Behind These Hazel Eyes." If you don't know, that song is sung by Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idols winner.
Some friends from the Peace Corps might be bicycle riding across the United States in the spring. We have to work out some details, but it might happen. After spending two years here, it's time I see some of America.
Now that my time in the Peace Corps is tapering off I have a lot of administrative work. So, I have to write about all that I've done in the last two years. It's really hard to explain some things. (I was going to write more, but I'll just leave that- volunteers might understand my dilemma)
Wow... my first email from someone in group 25. I just can't help smiling when I think.... I'm on my way home.
I know I don't update that often then you see two posts in one day. But, I figured this deserved a mention. The boy's hostel in Okombahe burned down. I never lived in the hostel because it was one of the worst places I've ever seen to live in. I can't honestly say I'll miss the smell, but it's sad to know that the learners lost everything in the fire. Until they can find another place they'll sleep in the cafeteria.
That makes about 16 burnt down classrooms and 3 burnt down hostels at the school.
I went to Otjiwarongo and saw my host mom. There was a funeral for my principal's mother, so many teachers went to support her (my principal is female).
Whereas last year my learners often acted like criminals, this year we've actually got criminals at the school. A chain gang showed up last week to clean our yard. One of the guys actually asked me for ten dollars.
I've been sick a lot lately. First, I had some kind of an allergy attack- cold sweats, fever, and the like. Then I got my second case of GI problems. For those of you who don't know what that means it's diarrhea (spelling?). I was in bed for almost a day and a half clutching my stomach in pain. They say it's just one of those things you have to endure as a volunteer. I didn't eat a normal meal from saturday night until thursday night.
My school was hosted the tri-school tournament this year. That means a full day of netball and soccer. I actually played for the teacher's team, but arrived late- very late. I was watching netball on the other side of the complex and only made it for the last minute of the soccer game. To my suprise the first time I touched the ball I got a penalty. I still don't know why I deserved a penalty. The other teachers don't know either; however, the say that the referee was penalizing our team the entire game.
I want a laptop! I helped FAWENA (Forum for African Women Educationalists in Namibia) make their newsletter. Actually, I pretty much made the entire thing myself. I used Microsoft Publisher (first publishing software I've ever used) to design and create the 8 page publication. The organization was so happy with the result that instead of paying me $500 (like they would have if they could) they took me to lunch. At least I have a new thing to add to my resume.... The reason I want a laptop is that I got to borrow FAWENA's while I was making the newsletter. I priced them online the other day at dell.com :-)
As far as my personal life goes: it's been much of the same. Now, that's a lot more stuff than this time last year. Last year I'd go home from school, eat lunch then sit and mark exercise books. This year, I go window shopping (a lot). Unfortunately, that often leads me to the book store and the music store and I inevitably spend some of my precious money. I don't make much and a single cd can be 10% of my monthly income.
I've gone to some movies lately. I saw Batman Begins and the Fantastic 4. To explain, I saw the Fantastic 4 because Namibians wanted to see it. I'm debating about going to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tomorrow with a Namibian. I don't think she'll like it.
Dating life has been interesting. I'm not going into much detail, but it has its ups and downs. Lise and I have been dating for 4 months now. She often is stuck in her house watching her nieces and nephews, so it's difficult getting out of the house. She bottles up her emotions pretty tight, so often I barely understand what's going on inside her. I still don't know what's going to happen in 4 months.
Facts about her: She's 24, owns 14 cows, and she's a quarter German. Her mother's father was German. (Remember this place was colonized by Germans).
So, when people think Africa they probably think of animals, drums (with people dancing around a fire), witch doctors....
They probably don't think of the local dance club. But, that's how 90% of the people I see on the street dress every day. Girls wearing fishnet shirts, capri pants, boys in Diesel jeans, All Stars for shoes, soccer jerseys, and most everything else nylon. Why nylon? It's the stuff you get in the China shops.
If you wonder how my learners dress when not in school just check out Total Request Live on MTV. Girls in short skirts, boys trying to look like thugs. That just about sums it up. No animals skin loin cloths for them.
While I'm at it, they love, love, love rap music and R&B. I might have already explained this, but 50 Cent is almost a god here. Typical conversation in the computer lab:
"Sir, can we listen to 50 Cent today?"
"No, he uses too many swear words."
"Umm...can we listen to Eminem?"
"No, he also uses too many swear words."
"Sir your music is boring."
Note: if they don't leave the computer lab fast enough (or if they bother me with too many stupid questions involving the music) I put on the hardest rock I have in here. Playing Static-X for about a minute gives the girls headaches. Other popular (or not popular depending on if you are me or the learners) music includes A Perfect Circle, anything punk, and Nine Inch Nails.
I have a CD burner in the lab. I also bought one in Okombahe when they broke into my house and stole my music. So, the learners bring me music and blank CDs to record their music. Sometimes they actually made the music and it usually turns out pretty well. I think 3 of my learners have recording contracts. Some are occassionaly in music videos. However, most of the music they bring is rap. So, I have the new Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye West, every Ludacris album, Usher, Alicia Keyes... My mood has been mostly country music lately, so the rap doesn't fit in too well, but occasionally they bring me rock music.
There is a phrase in Namibia, "It's your birthday." This means that you are having a very good day. Perhaps you bought something new, received a gift or are just very happy. So, "it was my birthday" at the end of April when one learner brought a "blank" cd. It turned out to have Silverchair, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and The Smashing Pumpkins. I want to know who this friend of his is who owns Smashing Pumpkins.... The album he brought is my favorite of the group (Siamese Dream) and one which was stolen last year from my house.
While I'm still on music....
YOU CANNOT FIND SO MUCH MUSIC HERE! I can buy these music magazines from England. (Uncut is only 70R!! and comes with a free CD!) The magazines talk about all this good music I could buy. I say could because that would necessitate having a competant rock section in the local Musica. They categorize Nickel Creek as rock...umm?? The country music section is pathetic. (Read Strange to Some... for more about country music). That's strange because the Afrikaaner rock music seems to incorporate country music. Afrikaaner music is an awful mix of techno beats, banjos, guitar strumming, and Afrikaans sung in the style of a stadium cheer. Not everything is like a cheer, but most of the stuff I hear tends toward that direction. I'm sure when you read techno beats and banjos in the same sentence some of you cringed. Well, imagine my feelings when I actually hear it...
Ok, so most volunteers are even more remote than us and fail to even have a music store, but most volunteers (in other countries) bring laptops with a 2 year supply of dvds. I think that'd be a good idea for Namibia, but some people have the wrong idea when they write the job descriptions for Namibia. Example: my job description said that I might be teaching computer classes in a place without any computers....Hmmm?? Not a good place to send a computer teacher in my opinion. Another assignment actually says that the job will be so remote that volunteers won't have electricity....Umm... maybe at night or about half the week, but the other times it's just fine. In fact, the most remote volunteers either have computer labs or laptops of their own. Internet is a different story.
Strange to Some But True
Ask a Namibian about country music and they will tell you that they love Dolly Parton. In a distant second comes Don Williams. I had one learner tell me that their favorite singer (of all time!) was Dolly Parton. I was in a taxi cab recently with a driver that could not understand any English. Explaining anything to him was nearly impossible. After a few minutes of riding with him he popped in- you guesses it- Dolly Parton.
Ask some people their color and they will actually answer with "coloured." In Namibia coloured is not an insult.
I asked my Damara learner last year about their favorite food. More than half of the learners said donkey meat. Yes, I have eaten some donkey. Doesn't taste too bad, just smells.
I'm on my 5th country director in less than 2 years. Louis, Helen, Howard, Gene, now Jeff..... That's my boss' boss.
No internet in most of the country (or it's cost prohibitive for anyone to use their phone line), but 90% of the people must have a cellphone. I have one. My number is (country area code) + 81 236 0493 or maybe you have to put the zero in there...... (country code) + 081 236 0493. My learners were even mocking me because I ONLY have 40+ numbers. They insist that I need 100+
Quotes of the Month (June and July)
"Sir, have you ever heard of black people?"
"You must be a Damara!"
I have recently begun a new chapter in my Peace Corps experience- Afrikaaners....
I moved into the Windhoek High School boys hostel more than a week ago to find myself in an unknown land- there are white kids in the hostel!?! There are also blacks too. These two things are definitely one of the first things I have ever seen in Namibia 1) White kids in a hostel 2) White and black kids hanging out together.
No matter there skin color these kids have a couple things in common, but the factor that allowed these kids to hang out together and attend school on an equal footing is money- lots of money. These kids are rich. I was walking around the school one evening to find them playing a Playstation 2 on a tv equipped with a satellite connection. In Okombahe we were often caught without electricity. I even think many of my learners didn't have electricity at home. Now, contrast that with the WHS learners that have stereo systems in their bedrooms....
Note- in Okombahe, radios were not allowed in hostel rooms because of the "noise levels" produced
My new living place is about a 20 minute drive across town (yep, town takes 20 minutes to cross...) So, an employess of Fawena (Forum for African Women in Education- Namibia chapter) drives me to work everyday. Then I take a taxi home.
A taxi to town costs $5.50. I'm getting reimbursed for the taxi fares which is nice. What's also nice is now I can go shopping without having to spend so much money on taxis, but I no longer have Mr. Gallant to teach me some Afrikaans.
Internet connection is so slow that I often cannot download a 900KB file before it times out. It feels like those days before 14.4 modems. Z modem download? X modem download??