Wednesday, November 15, 2006

a few stories

Hey everyone,
A kid told me something very strange the today. She came up to me and said, "Miss, I want to castrate someone." I didn't think I heard her quite right so I asked her again and she repeated it. I asked her if she knew what that word meant and she said "Yes, my grandfather was an elephant castrater." I really don't know what to do with that story, except laugh at it. What else can you do?

Tomorrow exams start. The grade 7s are taking Natural Science and Health Education exam. It is an external exam, meaning it's written by the Ministry of Education. I'm hoping they'll do OK. I gave them an open book test that was basically intended to make them revise for their exam. I'm going over it with them tomorrow. I also told the classes this week that I was going to show a movie this weekend and if they brought in a library book I'd let them see it for free. I'm hoping I'll get all the missing library books.

Next weekend I'm going to pick up the window glass in Otjiwarongo. We're replacing the windows in the school with glass, but I convinced the rest of the teachers that we should replace the hostel windows with plexiglass windows. They were a little nervous about it because plexiglass windows are quite expensive (US$6.60 apiece as opposed to glass windows which are about US$1.50.) The kids live in these rooms and I'm pretty sure that if we replace them with glass windows they will be broken again pretty soon. The nice thing about plexiglass windows is that they will never again have to replace them again. We have enough donated money to fix the windows in the school and in the hostel hall, but I'll have to raise some more money to fix the sleeping room windows. I told them that I think we can get enough to replace them and they're trusting me, so I'm hoping I can manage it.

I heard about the elections in the US (I didn't vote because it's hard enough for me to try to get groceries or phone calls from home, trying to work an absentee ballot when I'm 55K from a post office, 90K from another American, and 400-500K from the nearest notary public, much less trying to be an informed voter, REALLY didn't seem like a good use of my time.) I actually don't really know much about what happened except that it was quite partisan and some people were upset about it (when is that a surprise?)...Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think we're kind of lucky in America regardless of whether the election went your way or not.

I had a dream a while ago. I was on the airplane coming home to America for the Chrismas holiday and I started talking to the person sitting next to me. He (or she--I don't really remember, you know how it is in dreams) asked me where I was going and I said, "I'm going home to Ithaca." It seemed very important. Probably just a lovely Mefloquine dream. Still I thought it was kind of funny. My own little odyssey home. It got me thinking about homesickness. There are all of these subtle lonlinesses that come on you when you are away for a long time, some of them little more than an echo of your nerve endings. I will wake up with a sudden memory of the way it felt to sit in that chair, the smell of autumn air just after the first frost, or the feeling of my parent's kitchen counter. Some days I just long for the familiar. I know that I will miss this place when I leave too, though. It seems like life is a long series of goodbyes and the periods of rest between them. Nothing ever stays the same.

OK, that's about it.
PO Box 5006
Kamanjab, Namibia

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