Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Knock, Knock, Nobody's Home

Well, I think I updated the blog a few days too early.  My boring old life here in the village isn’t so boring anymore!


This morning my house got broken into and all my money and some electronics were stolen.  Yay for me!  The sad part is that I didn’t take the broken lock as a sign of a burglary until hours later. 


Upon entering my house during break time I noticed that some of my things had been moved on my trunk.  Freaked out, I checked and saw that all of my expensive things were still here.  So, of course that meant I was crazy and nothing was stolen.  Hours later I come home from a computer class to hear that one of my neighbors saw one of the learners leave the yard.  So, upon closer inspection of my things, I noticed that all of my money (both Namibian and American) was gone, as well as my iPod, speakers, and a memory stick.


As you do when you are robbed, we called the police, and I was able to spend the next few hours freaking out about the security of my home as well as my missing things.  The door to the house wouldn’t lock, and it was getting late.  I could honestly care less about the money.  Yes it was a lot of money, but I have enough to survive.  But now I didn’t feel safe in my own home.


Thankfully the learner who my neighbor saw wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.  He had only gone a few kilometers away in the hours it had been since he had broken in and we had reported it.  The police quickly caught him, and in an act of even greater stupidity he had (almost) all of my things on his person.


Que scene where I spent the next few hours of filling out a statement with the police, and trying to fix the door.  Door problem solved temporarily and ridiculously long statement finished.  Unfortunately I will probably have to court to give my statement and testify against the kid.


The saddest part is that this was a learner at my school.  He was a repeater in Grade 10, and had finished his exams 2 days prior.  He left to go home, like all of the other Grade 10s, but decided to stay a few extra days for some ‘extra-curricular activities’.  It makes me so sad that kids are doing these things, especially to their own teachers.  It really shows how few opportunities these kids think they have in life.


If there’s one good thing that came out of this, is that the Peace Corps understands the limitations of my village and what we can fix so that this does not happen again.  I am looking forward to seeing the improvements and now I am extra positive that getting a dog is a good idea.  If he is sitting at my door, people are much less likely to try to break in.  I was tempted to have a moat built around the house, and fill it with hippos.  But, I’m too lazy to dig that trench and don’t think it’d be a good detention for the kids.  Also, the hippos would probably not get along very well with the dog.  Too bad. 


It seems that as soon as I say life is boring here, something comes along to spice up my life a bit.  I hope that next time instead of someone robbing me, it’s something really cool like winning the lottery or seeing all my kids get A’s on their essays.  One can wish!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Life So Far



It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here, and I wanted to update you on what’s been going on in my life. 


Not much.  I’ve spent the last month in my village, and I am slowly trying to figure everything out and get to know everyone.  Despite being such a small community, it’s been a bit difficult to actually get close to anyone.  Yes, we are all on amicable terms, but it seems that as soon as the school day is over, everyone retreats to their own homes and we see each other again the next school day.  This itself is not a bad thing, but it does make getting close relationships all the harder.


I have been able to work more at the school, which is extremely nice.  As my mom has always told me, ‘Keep the secretary on your good side and things will always be easier.’  I’ve taken this to heart, even though it’s not a task by any means.  My secretary is a fabulously lovely woman!  She is very intelligent and incredibly kind.  She is always there to make jokes, chat, and help me whenever I need.  I have also been slowly been learning more about my colleagues, as well as letting them know about me.


This is the real point of what we call ‘Phase 2’ of Peace Corps.  This is the 2 months before the new school year, where I have the opportunity to integrate without the stresses of being a full time teacher.  I’ve been lucky to be able to practice my teaching.  I’ve applied my current teaching methodologies to Namibia in hopes that it applies here, and so far so good!  I was very worried that everything I learned about teaching wouldn’t be applicable here, but thankfully it is.  It’s been nice to be able to see if my tricks and skills with the little ones would apply to secondary students and they do. 


These kids are both very young and very old at the same time.  They love stickers and positive reinforcement to an extent that American teenagers would scoff at.  It’s surprising that things I’ve done with my Kindergarteners work with 18 year olds!  At the same time, though, these kids are having sex with each other, getting pregnant and who knows what else, and going to the next village to get drunk on weekends.  They think it’s fun to turn the power to the teachers’ housing out at night, and generally do stupid obnoxious things.


Thankfully those are only the 5%.  And generally the Grade 10s.  I spoke with my principal about what I will be teaching next year, and we have tentatively agreed that I will do all of Grade 8 and 9 English, as well as BIS  (basic information science).  BIS generally means how to use books properly as well as use research tools such as dictionaries, indexes, and the internet.  We don’t have the internet at the moment, but I’ve made it my goal to get it at the school before I leave. 


So, weekdays are usually pretty fulfilling here, but weekends are different altogether.  When there is no school, the days can drag on forever and there isn’t much to do.  I need to start making more of an effort to establish relationships with the teachers so that we can get together on these boring days.  Thankfully everything takes longer to do, such as laundry.  I must do it all by hand, so every Saturday I at least have something to do for an hour or two.


I’ve also taken up running again, which is a great stress and boredom reliever.  I have no idea how far I go, but I try to increase my time every day.  It’s been really nice to have a goal (be able to go an hour easy for now, and a half marathon in a year).  Some of the kids and spouses have noticed what I am doing, and after getting over the shock of the ‘that crazy running white chick’ have either joined me or asked if they can.  The more the merrier I say!


I know that once I get my own class, I’ll have plenty to do.  I’m already trying to establish weekend classes for the community in various computer skills, from basic to editing and creating electronic grading.  That’ll both keep me busy and help improve the community.  I really want to have at least one teacher helping me though.  If I do everything myself, the project won’t be sustainable once I leave.  It’s so easy to just say I’ll do it, but that’s really not the reason I’m here.  I want the community to be able to help itself. 


Oh, in new news, I’ve officially decided to get a dog.  I’ve been debating it for the last few months, considering I live in such a remote place and dogs are horribly mistreated.  When I leave for my vacations (which I need to do considering there’s really no one here for a month), what would happen to the dog?  I wouldn’t be able to take it with me for such a long time, and I couldn’t leave it by itself.  So, after talking to a community member that I trust, he said that he would love to watch the dog for me.  I don’t think he knows how to do that to my standards, but I trust that if I showed him what to do, he’d be able to make sure it was looked after.


I’ll be getting him or her from the SPCA in Windhoek on my way back to site after Christmas.  It’ll be a great gift to myself, and will help me not be so bored and lonely on weekends.  I’ve had many offers of puppies from people who know I want a dog, but I think getting an adult dog is a smarter idea.  Also, I want to make sure it has all the shots and is fixed.  Preparing for it is going to be fun as well.  I’m going to make a dog house out of old desk frames and tarp material, and any time I go to town I’ll pick up a little bit that I need, like food and a leash and other stuff.  Very exciting.  I’ll post a picture when I get him or her!


Other than that, not much has happened.  Just practicing my teaching and preparing for next year, which is difficult with the lack of resources.  A fact which may help me to get the internet.  It’d be so much easier to create effective lessons with resources found on the internet.  We’ll see how that goes!