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What Was I Thinking?! #ThrowbackThursday

Hello All!

So today is the first #ThrowbackThursday of the new posting schedule, where I tell you what I was thinking during the time I wrote an old blog post, and today I am featuring the first blog post I ever wrote when I arrived in my new town to teach in Opuwo, Namibia. I actually started blogging via Tumblr when I arrived in Namibia to give people an accurate depiction of Africa. I knew beforehand that my experiences of the world, especially Nigeria, were often misconstrued by the rest of the world, so I was happy to give an accurate perspective of a rural African town from a Black person such as myself, especially as a person working there. In addition to this blog post, I remember arriving in my town and everybody being happy that I was Black. The Principal, teachers, and the students all expressed that they were tired of white volunteers coming from America and Europe, undermining their culture and telling them what to do, making them feel inferior – they told me all this on the first day, they actually assumed I would be white, and they urged me to tell Black people to please come to Africa. When I got there I was thinking, wow, I did it, I’m really here helping my people. I made sure to tell them that I was here to learn about them just as much as I want them to learn about me, so I did not follow the rules of making them speak English all the time, oh well. So settling in was interesting, they were so interested in me and I felt I was going to have a good time. Oh, and the name of the language I was referencing below is Xhosa. Check out the original blog post by clicking here, or reading below!

I Live Right Next to the School!

So I arrived in my new town today, It wasn’t quite how they described it but the people here are very nice. It was an 8 hour drive from Windhoek to my town where I’ll be teaching called Opuwu. The driver was funny, and I saw 3 Giraffes, The Giraffes stood there so tall and reminded of how good God is. I couldn’t help but think, look at the beautiful design of those Giraffes and how they stand there looking like statues, Just beautiful! And the landscapes and mountains were beyond amazing. I’m realizing that Nigeria and Namibia are so much alike and so much different at the same time. The same African Spirit is still there, but the cultures are so diverse it really makes me appreciate being able to experience two different African Cultures. For example, that clicking sound that people often make fun of when referring to Africans is real, except the clicks come in between words and there is a certain way that you have to click to get the meaning of each word. It’s actually very sophisticated. The driver that bought Karina and I to our placements actually speaks that language, and He told me what it was but I didn’t get the spelling so I don’t want to give you guys the incorrect spelling. I liked listening to him talk to his friends in his language as we stopped along the way, he even listened to a radio station with the language. Well I’m all over the place with this blog but now I’m in the town, the principal and vice principal of the school are so happy to have me here, my room is nice and the teacher I’m living with is nice along with her family. Tomorrow I’ll go into town and meet people and another WorldTeach volunteer (year long) lives close by, we’ll most likely meet tomorrow, she’s been here since January. Oh by the way, I saw Himba women in their traditional clothes today, it was quite interesting. They wear a certain paste on their body and hair to protect them from the sun, and yes, they are somewhat naked but their style of dress and the way they present themselves shows who they are in society, it is a very sophisticated way of life and is historical as well as inspirational. It’s good to see Africans that still keep their traditions although having so much western influence around them.

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Go ahead, try and prove me wrong :-)

I was told before starting my journey as a Namibian teacher that “the learners in Namibia have a hard time thinking critically”. i challenged that statement when I heard it. I asked the person, “well did you try and help them with that when you were teaching in Namibia?” From then I knew what and how I was going to teach these learners. The lessons I have been giving them have allowed them to definitely think critically, and guess what? They did! My learners have no problem thinking critically, and as a matter of fact, they catch on very quickly. There might be one or two that need me to explain or show something again but once I do, they’re on it. I have had them work in groups to create business flyers for their own made-up businesses, i have had them interview each other, and was surprised at the depth of the questions they asked; I’ve had them write their Autobiographies, I’ve had them do powerpoints. And to my surprise, they all told me that they never knew or learned these things before I came to Namibia to teach them, but somehow, the work they do in my class shows that they are capable of anything. Imagine, I teach grades 8-12, these are some people who have told me they never touched a computer, but If I show someone all the work they’ve done, they wouldn’t believe that some of that work was done by someone who has never touched a computer. There is something about traveling outside of the U.S. that makes one challenge everything they’ve ever been told or believed. It makes you realize that your way of life is such a small portion of the many ways of life there are in this world. It makes you start thinking more critically about the decisions you make, and allows you to become more accepting, but less tolerant of nonsense. Life is what you make it.

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Better with time

Sometimes it’s the little things that make teaching awesome. I learn so much from my learners. I’m very hard on them in the classroom because I expect the best from them in my short time here. Today I took over a class for an absent teacher who had an emergency to attend to back in his hometown. It was my favorite class, which helped, but they were just in the class doing nothing. i went there and they wre in the middle of doing nominations for an organization that allows student ambassadors to represent their school politically. I forgot the name to the organization, but trust me they were anxious about being picked for this position! After that was over, and the nominees from that class were picked, I told everyone to quiet down. I drew a hangman logo on the board and asked them if they knew what game it was. They all knew immediately! So I began to play hangman with them since although they were in their math period, I know nothing about math. The game allowed them to calm down and participate in a game which requires cooperation. They were each calling out letters and trying to guess what I was saying and I was just laughing in joy at their excitement. Finally the phrase as finished, “please be quiet” was the final answer. Everyone began to laugh becuase it is a phrase I say often. The next one I did was “Why are you laughing?” Again we all laughed because that is another one of my favorite phrases. Afterwards I felt it was necessary to let some learners get a chance. 7 learners got a chance to do their own hangman. We had so much fun trying to figure out what everyone wanted to write. One learner misspelled a word and tried to add more letters, that was funny because he tried to be slick, lol. All in all, I wish I had a camera because I love those moments where simple things make everyone so happy. I can see them outside of being learners, I just see them as kids who want to have fun just like any other kid.

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So I’m finally here ;-)

So I’ve finally reached the highly anticipated country of Namibia. I get the great feeling of home. I can already tell I’m going to have an amazing time and the other volunteers are so cool, especially Richard, he’s Awesome!! From our orientation meeting it sounds like it will be a good mixture of hard work and play. The people are so friendly and love to celebrate from what I’ve heard but I believe it will surely come true. We get to see an authentic Namibian dance group tomorrow and I’m excited. So until then, I’ll talk to you all later.

There are many mountains around me