Yesterday was a very long day! We had our LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) in the morning. Pretty much it consisted of a native talking with us and us responding to their questions. Here’s a question: How much do you actually expect me to know after 7 days of learning a language? Seriously?! I know that much is expected of us, but that was brutal! The whole point of the LPI is to find out where we are in our language learning. They will conduct another one during the last week of training, and they want to see what improvement we’ve made. So, in that respect, I’m not too worried about failing miserably. I am proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned in such a short time. I was just frustrated that I sometimes didn’t know what she was asking, and other times I had no way of responding in my Otjiherero. At this point I can say my name, where I am from, why I am here (Ami mbi omuriangere oyefrou. I am a volunteer teacher), and a little bit about what I like to do and my family. But then my interviewer started increasing the difficulty of the question, asking me things above my ability. That was the point, though, to see what level I was at. I understand that. But it was hard to sit there unable to respond to something. I left the interview feeling worse than coming in to it.
But…..the day ended amazingly! After lunch we learned about our sites. Finally! I mean, it’s only been three weeks since we’ve been here, but it seems like it’s been forever! I knew, based on where people speak Otjiherero, somewhat where I could be placed, but it was really a mystery. It was really cool how they told us. They made a giant map of the country outside in the dirt (sand), with different names of towns and villages. Then, one by one, they called our name and where we would be staying and had us find our town/village. I am going to be in a village called Otjiperongo. Population……..50. You heard me right. 50. As in 5.0. As per the school’s application, they want me to teach grade 9 and 10 English, as well as 8 and 9 Basic Information Science (read: computer skills) and PE. They would also like me to run the library and help my learners gain a love of reading. I am so down for that!!! When I first started to think of my life in the Peace Corps, I thought, “I’m totally going to start a library, and it’s going to be awesome!”. While I won’t be starting the library at my school, it is going to be awesome. Trust me. And my learners are absolutely going to love reading. Hopefully as much as I do.
I will be living at school, at what they call a hostel. Pretty much it’s teacher or learner dorms. Since the village is so small, most of my learners live much further away. To actually get them to come to school (which is sometimes difficult at this stage of their education), those who live very far have the opportunity to live at the school. I will have a 2 bedroom place of my own, with my own bathroom, kitchen, running water (both hot and cold), and electricity. I’m hoping that the school has internet that I can borrow (steal) from them as well. That way I won’t have to buy my own. I’m pretty spoiled in terms of living arrangements. I definitely won’t be living in a mud hut, though some people I know will! No more bucket baths for me! Nice warm showers whenever I want, without having to heat up the water.
I am very excited about my placement. It’s hard to get a read on what it will be like based on the few pages of details they gave us though. They warned us that it will most likely be very different than our initial assessment of the place. That’s why, on Saturday, I will be going for my site visit. My principal (who I’ve been told is awesome!) is going to meet with me on Thursday, where we will talk about who I am and what my interests are in terms of the school. Then, we will travel to the school, where I will spend 3 days learning more about the school, meeting the other teachers, as well as visiting the village. I will then spend the next 3 days shadowing the current Peace Corps volunteer there. That’s right, they have a volunteer there who I will be taking over. Which is nice in a lot of ways. They already have exposure to American culture, and I will not be such a shock to them. I will also be taking over her place, which means the house is probably stocked already with supplies like pots and pans.
I am so excited for my life here in Namibia, becoming a part of a community and making a difference. I know that I will have the opportunity to change many lives, including my own. I will need to be open to new experiences and different ways of doing things. I think that if I stop comparing everything to how it’s done in America, I am going to have an amazing time here!