Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lemon meringue, marking, and a visit about special ed (email from Amy)

Hey everyone,


Not much to say about this week. It’s exam time here so I have been invigilating. We talked about the vocab word “whine” this week because I was sick of my 6B class (they actually whined about the English exam because it was in English.) I’ve been doing a lot of marking and staying up late some nights, but this term was about 10 times easier than last term because I knew how to do it and I had actually prepared through the whole term to do the marking.

Lemon Meringue Pie

So I made lemon meringue pie on Friday. I had bought lemons and tartaric acid (cream of tartar) last week specially to do it. I used custard powder (which is like unsweetened instant pudding mix…i.e. corn starch with some colouring and flavouring) instead of corn starch and I beat the meringue by hand. It turned out a little thin (I think the custard powder might have fine corn flour instead of corn starch so I really should have used double the amount) and, seeing as how I was using a wire whisk, a lot of elbow grease, and about an hour of my time, I didn’t manage to get the meringue part all the way to a real meringuealthough I got close) but it still tasted really good. Mmm, tastes like home.

Special Ed visit

On Friday I got a visit from Diane Mills, a VSO volunteer in Khorixas who works on special ed. stuff, and another VSO volunteer who works up in the Caprivi in Katima Mulilo, and a woman from the UK who was spending about a month working on hearing issues up in Katima. There is
a little girl in the village named Berlin who is pretty profoundly deaf. We’re trying to get her into the school in the first grade classroom. She is a very bright little girl and her parents are really great, I often see her mom, who works at the hostel. They have been teaching her to write and she is obviously well loved and taken care of by her whole extended family and community. It was nice to get to show off my school to other people. They were very impressed with the obvious care that the
teachers here take. One of them said that it’s one of the best schools they’ve seen in Namibia. We decided that I would help and Berlin could come next term for part of the day to get used to school and to help the learners and teachers get used to her. Diane is going to come for a week to train people and she’s bringing a TV and a video of Namibian sign language. I really hope it goes OK. I think that the teachers can handle it and that Berlin is very smart and able to do the work. Plus, I was telling them, people here take care of each other. There is a real sense that one person’s problem is the community’s problem. Everyone (the teacher, the family, the school) is a little nervous, but I really do think that they want to try to make it work. The only other option is to try to send the girl to a special school in Windhoek and that would be really tough. Anker is so rural and the whole culture is so communal and Windhoek is (comparatively) such a very big urban place. I can entirely understand them not wanting to send their first grade daughter, who they obviously love deeply and feel very protective of, alone to some strange school in Windhoek.

Another Project idea

I have a new idea for a project (although it's not like I don't have enough projects in the air right now.) Anker's school library is the only library for about 50 kilometers in any direction. Most of the rural population just doesn'y have any access to printed material. Besides that, the literacy rates are the lowest in the country (the rates for the whole of Kunene are a bit above 50%, and that includes the people in cities and the white people, I would guess that, at most, about a third of the parents of my kids can read and write with reasonable understanding in any language, although many of them have memorized how to print their names.) Anyway, my idea is to make up library boxes with maybe 10 picture books (with translations into KhoeKhoe and Afrikaans)
and a couple of novels (for the youth who can sometimes read reasonably well in English), and a bunch of non-fiction packets on topics like HIV/Aids, Pregnancy, Health, Agriculture, Sewing, Money Management, Basic maths and science, and other topics that would be interesting to a rural population (with translations into KhoeKhoe and Afrikaans). Most of the farms are actually groups of 3-5 houses with grazing land all around, so I figure we can send the boxes with a responsible elder at the farm who will be responsible for the books and we can rotate the boxes every term or so. If that works out I would really like to get some money for cassette tapes, rechargeable batteries, and some tape players so that we can record the information for those who can't read. I think we could do it with PEPFAR money since HIV/Aids and Health information will most certainly be included and since it would be reaching out to those who have very little access to other information. Anyway, it's an idea, I don't know if it will work or not.

Term break plans

Other than that, there’s not much to report. I still haven’t finalized where I’m going for term break, but I’m definitely going to Windhoek for the second half of it and I think that some people are coming to Anker after that (although I don’t have any confirmation as of today.) I’m hoping I can tag along with someone else who has plans. OK, that’s it for now. I love you all lots. Take care.

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