Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Recent Nam 25 PCV blogs and Namibian news for the month of January

Recent blog posts from some of Amy's teammates (58 Peace Corps Volunteers known as NAM 25) all across the country of Namibia:

Check out this video of the school where Irene teaches
Check out this article and video about Nam 24's Jonathan Reichel

Jason's page of Nam 25 blogger photos and links

(Nam 26 bloggers)

Home, Movies, and Books (1/27) NEW
Welcome back to Me (1/18)
Article in Amy's hometown newspaper (1/9)


PS (1/31) NEW
armed and dangerous, very dangerous (1/31) NEW
some humor... (1/19)
the itsy-bitsy maggots... (1/5)
Simmered Down (1/4)
MIA (1/4)

what what what (1/19)

Some photos (1/19)

Updates since January 6 (1/15)

Exciting family news (1/24) NEW
Refreshing holiday at the sea (1/22)
PADDED ENVELOPES a must (1/22)

Grade 10 results (1/11)
Vacation (1/11)

Post by Sheila (1/18)
The year in review (1/6)

How it starts (1/27) NEW
Tonight for dinner: Affel (1/13)
Travels with Mom and Dad (1/4)




I'm a new super hero (1/20)
Opuwo beads and seed (1/20)
First Ride (1/17)
Himba Hygiene or lack there of (1/15)
Welcome home (1/14)
Plane fun (1/12)
Resolutions? (1/12)
Safe and Sound (1/11)
Big Thanks (1/10)
Home for the Holidays - here are the highlights (1/10)
Whew! She's gone (1/9)



Erikka (Amy's teammate from Nam 25) featured in her hometown news (1/7)

A Week (1/23) NEW
Also check out this video of the school where Irene teaches

First day (Finally!) (1/30) NEW
Beginning of school (1/25) NEW
And we're back (1/14)
Jason featured in his hometown newspaper (12/30)


December (January?) Vacation - Zambia - round 2 (1/13)
December Vacation - Nkhata Bay to Lilongwe - the other way (1/13)
December Vacation - Lilongwe to Nkhata Bay (1/10)
December Vacation - Zambia - round 1 (1/9)
December Vacation - Khorixas to Livingstone (1/9)
Phone stolen (1/2)



Introducing the MYO kids... (1/18)
Bestest Girlfriends ever (1/12)
2007 - The year of PAM (1/1)

Quick vacation (1/25) NEW
The love of my life (1/24) NEW
The sky is on fire and the donkeys are dieing (1/24) NEW


Back in Namibia (1/10)

first week back (1/21)

Nam 26 bloggers active lately:

Link to previous list of recent blogs (December 2006)

Recent news from Namibia

Todays Front Page from "The Namibian"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

KhoeKhoegowab language lesson videos

KhoeKhoegowab is the language that the people in the village of Anker speak. Although most of Amy's classes are taught in English, she has learned enough of it to understand some basics and is able to read it.

More about the Damara people group and the language they speak.

Want to learn some KhoeKhoegowab?

Here are some video lessons in the language:

KhoeKhoegowab Lesson No: 1

KhoeKhoegowab Lesson No: 2

KhoeKhoegowab Lesson No: 3

KhoeKhoegowab Lesson No: 4

Videos about Namibia

Videos should play right on this page by clicking the arrow once:

"We children from Baumgartsbrunn"
22 min video about a school in Namibia where one of the Peace Corps Volunteers (Irene) works.

"Animals in Namibia" - a 1 min video about Etosha animals

"Cruisin Namibia" - a 4 min video about the adventure of getting around in NW Namibia

"Namibia - experience it yourself " - a 10 min video about some touristy things to do in Namibia

"Namibian Green Energy" - a 4 min video about renewable energy in Namibia

"Educating Namibia: A dream come true" - a 9 min video from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America about Namibians trained in the US and working in Namibia

Link to videos on other pages:

"Namibia's unexpected ecosystems" - a 3.5 min video about some of the unusual natural beauty in Namibia

"Namibia - This land is ours" - a 19 min video about the land redistribution challenges in Namibia

"Maturisa Ehinga- We are fighting AIDs " - a series of 4 videos (check the links on the left side of the page) about a project by Elon University students on the AIDs epidemic in Namibia

"Cats and Dogs work together" - a 4 min video about a unique conservation project near Amy's village.

KhoeKhoegowab lessons - 4 videos about the language that Amy is learning to speak

Namibia March 2007 - a 27 min video by a tourist with good video from near where Amy lives

Welcome to Namibia - 3 videos for the Namibian Tourism Board

Wolvedans- The Namib Desert - a 3 min video of scenery from the desert set to music

Namibia, a filmmakers destination - a 6 min film on movie sets in Namibia

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Home, Movies, and Books (email from Amy)

I've decided that I must concentrate a few of my impressions from my weeks at home, or else I'll never get them down on paper. There were lots of enjoyable things about being at home-- a well stocked fridge, watching new episodes of CSI and Mythbusters with my mom, being viewed as (and, if I'm honest, actually being) poorer than everyone else for a change (trust me, if there's one thing I've learned here, it's that being viewed as wealthy is an enormous burden) and, of course, my wonderful, loving, infinitely patient family.

At the same time it was a sort of strange feeling, coming back. I felt a little like I stepped off an airplane and into another of my lives. It was sort of unnerving, kind of like you might feel if you stepped off an airplane and into your life at age 16. Still, there were parts of America that have become absolutely inscrutable to me. I was standing in the line for customs in Washington and this guy in front of me kept complaining about how long it was taking. Quite frankly, I was a little astonished to be on American soil, surrounded by white people with accents I recognized, and, in addition, in Namibia I've waited for a longer time just to listen to someone read a patently boring speech or to try to force a goat into a bakkie before. Everyone seems to be in such a big hurry to get everywhere, and everyone walks so fast, and no one greets each other. I suppose part of it is that I came back at the hight of the Christmas season, but here I greet and shake hands with every teacher every morning, often being asked, "How are you?" multiple times. Not greeting someone is like denying their personhood, and, although it annoyed me to no end at the beginning, I really love it now.

Other than that, I missed the singing most of all. I went to church and the music was beautiful, but I missed the old grandmothers who sing acapella with a lot of gusto and not a lot of accuracy. I missed the beauty of kids singing in circles in the afternoon, just because there is nothing else to do, and it's fun, and I missed the morning songs when kids might void singing because they are tired, but not because they're embarrassed.

Oh, also, CNN sounds a bit schitzophrenic, and massively paranoid to me. It's not like Anker is a bastion of pastoral bliss, but we only tend to worry about things that actually have a possibility of affecting us. I hear a lot about how we might be in a drought and whether we can get drought relief, about how to properly prepare the school filing system in case the school inspector shows up, and about how we'll manage to get the sports field cleaned up and the teams trained in time for the Inter-House tournament next week, and really, what more news do you need than that?

Last weekend I showed some movies to the kids. We made almost N$100 (US$15) for the school deveolopment fund off the entrance fee (N$1, US 15 cents.) It was a double feature. I showed Holes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was actually a lot of fun. I love watching the kids watch movies because they aren't jaded to them. They actually, audibly gasp at places. When the snake jumps out at the beginning of Holes I actually saw some of them jump and then the whole room went crazy. It was interesting thinking how they would think of things. I heard someone talking (in KhoeKhoe) about how Zero was a Bushman. I think it was a good movie to show them. They don't get many good role models for a more integrated society. Anyway, most of them were pretty exhausted by the time we moved to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and only about 30 or 40 were awake by the end.

This week has been more planning and more work. I have almost 40 kids in my grade 7 class and 38 in my grade 6 class. Let me tell you, that's not fun. Especially Grade 7, who have passed from the cute, naive 6th graders who stare at me blankly when I speak English, but who try to do what I say, into gangly, hormonal 7th graders who feel that they do not need to listen to instructions or be quiet when I'm talking, or stop hitting their neighbor. Oy, I think grade 7 might kill me. If only I were teaching one of the younger grades where they stare benignly at me as I try to find a way to change, "Draw a line" into simpler English

For those keeping track, this week I read Catch 22, Alice in Wonderland, Aesop's Fables, The Third Testament by Malcolm Muggridge, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, and I'm halfway through I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Macbeth, and The Sun Also Rises. I had missed reading so much. It seems like, in America I have endless options for obtaining books--librarys packed to the ceilings, bookstores on every corner, books lying around in piles-- but so little time to actually read them (or so many distractions to pull me away) whereas here, I have a severely limited stock of books to choose from, but all the time in the world to read them (and, it doesn't hurt that they're way more interesting than the handful of repetitively viewed DVDs in my collection. There's nothing like laying around on a Friday or Saturday devouring chapter after chapter of a good book.) Anyway, this was one thing I actually was looking foreward to in the Peace Corps that has actually lived up to my expectations-- I'm actually catching up with my reading.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Welcome back to Me (email from Amy)

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven't written for a while. I was home for Christmas. It was good. I still haven't processed it though. I'll write more about it later. The first grade teacher who I know has a telephone didn't get here until yesterday (she had exams for her correspondence college courses- she's getting her bachelor's degree) and the school phone was broken.

It's the beginning of the year. I'm really hoping that we start with classes on Monday (I think they will.) I feel a lot more prepared this year. I think back to this time last year and I wonder what I was thinking. I was sort of flailing about for lessons. This year I sketched out a plan for the whole term. I'm going to try doing a vocab word each day with a theme for the week. My favourite is called "Gross Stuff" and has words like "boger" and "vomit." I set that one for the week after a five day break, when none of the kids will really want to be at school.

Here's how I got back to Anker after being home. First there was the 28 hour airplane ride. On the way to America I sat next to a guy who worked at the American Embassy and his family. We had a nice chat. On the way back, ironically, I was on the same plane with him from Washington to Jo-berg, and then, even more ironically, I sat next to him from Jo-berg to Windhoek. His wife came to pick them up and offered me a ride and then they took me out to eat at Nando's (it's a nice fast food-ish chicken place. Think P---) Not bad considering I was planning on begging for rides from tourists. They thankfully dropped me off at Jason's place with all my stuff (miraculously, nothing got lost.)

I stayed in Windhoek that night and two more nights (I just couldn't face trying to travel with all of my stuff.) Finally I called a Radio Taxi (a taxi that will pick you up where you ask them to and then drop you off for a flat N$40 fee) and then a combi (I had to pay extra because of all my stuff.) At the checkpoint outside of Windhoek they stopped our combi and asked for IDs from everyone (the first time that has happened to me) and then I got into a bit of trouble because my passport was in the trailer in back and I only had my Peace Corps ID (which should have been good enough.)

Finally we got out of there and into Otjiwarongo where I got a taxi to Megan's place. She had thankfully not moved yet (she will soon because at the moment she's living with a UN volunteer, her boyfriend, and their 1 month old infant.) Matt and Carl were there. Then came the part of the trip I had been dreading- trying to hike to Kamanjab and then into Anker with so much stuff. We lugged everything to the Wimpy Burger (which, by the way, now has highspeed (relatively) Wi-Fi, who'd have thunk it) and while we were waiting for the food I went to Pep to buy a new cell phone. There in PEP I saw Mr. #Guibeb and my problems were solved. I brought all my stuff to his car, bought some groceries and I was back in Anker that Saturday afternoon after a relatively painless 3 hour ride in the back of a bakkie with three other women and all my stuff.

This week has been quiet. There are still only about half the kids we expect to show up (by Monday it will be all but a few) and they're not getting into too much trouble yet. I have thoroughly cleaned and finished cataloging the library, something I am quite proud of (pictures are coming.) Finally, this weekend I'm going to get some more groceries. I got milk, eggs, plenty of fresh fruit and veggies—cabbage, carrots, apples, oranges and cucumbers—but for some reason I forgot to buy meat and bread when I shopped last week. I've had to make up for it with Herero bread from the store and lots of complimentary proteins.) Also, I'm in charge of showing a video on Saturday night (I think it will be Holes.)

That's all for now. I love you all lots. Thank you to everyone who I saw while I was home, it was a very refreshing and energizing time for me (even if I did spend an inordinate amount of time watching CSI and Mythbusters.) Take care.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New school year starts this week

The new school year begins this week in Namibia. It is mid summer there and some of the hottest days of the year, but the holidays end this week and the children begin to return to schools and hostels all around the country for another year. Teachers are supposed to report to work today and prepare for students, who are to report on Wednesday. Below is a schedule of the whole 2007 school year for Namibia.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

From Hatchville to Namibia

From Hatchville to Namibia

This winter vacation, Erikka Loftfield feels overstimulated.

Her family's Hatchville home - buzzing with people to chat with and things to do - is a world away from what she has grown accustomed to in her Peace Corps outpost in Namibia.

Erikka Loftfield, left, says she knew very little about Africa before the Peace Corps assigned her to a teaching post in Namibia, where she has 90 students and runs an after-school program for girls.
(Photo courtesy of Erikka Loftfield)

The tiny Namibian town of Bethanie has one store, a post office and a bank that is only open on Mondays, 2 to 4 p.m. There, life is all about her job as teacher, mentor and volunteer.

''I go to the little shop there and I have one choice of peanut butter. Here, I walk around the grocery story and I don't know what to do with myself,'' Loftfield said.

The 2001 Falmouth High School graduate has been teaching English and science in the African country since 2005. This week, she returns to Namibia, where she will complete the last 11 months of her two-year commitment to the Peace Corps.

Between her pre-med undergraduate work at Cornell University and plans for grad school, Loftfield applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted to work for the U.S.-based worldwide volunteer effort.

When she was offered the job in Namibia, she did her research.

''I knew very little about Africa, actually,'' she said. ''I was very shocked about how little you can know about a part of the world.''

With a long Atlantic Ocean coastline in the western part of the country, Namibia is bordered by Angola to the north and South Africa to the south in sub-Saharan Africa. The country gained independence from South Africa in 1990.

A mostly rural country, Namibia is plagued by AIDS, with nearly 20 percent of the population affected by the deadly disease.

Loftfield's Peace Corps teaching adventure began at a secondary school in Karbib a year ago. Last spring, she moved to the little town of Bethanie, a rural community first settled by missionaries.

In a holdover from the country's domination by Apartheid South Africa, the line between black and white is distinct in Bethanie.

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Loftfield stands out among the all-black student body. She lives in a flat at the school's hostel among about 90 students, many of whom hail from the poor outskirts of the region.

''You see more integration then there was in the past, but it's slow,'' she said of race relations in Namibia.

Loftfield teaches natural science and health, subjects that include lessons about dessert ecosystems and prevention of malaria and yellow fever.

The official language in Namibia is English, and students are taught exclusively in English after fourth grade. Still, some of Loftfield's seventh- and eighth-graders must translate for other students who have yet to master the language.

''On paper, it all works very well. But application is more difficult than that,'' she said.

She does plenty outside the classroom, too.

Loftfield runs an after-school program for girls and an AIDS-prevention program sponsored by UNICEF. The UNICEF program tries to build children's self-esteem.

''Just to get them to the point where they can say 'no' is sort of a novel idea,'' she said.

Loftfield is also among the Peace Corps volunteers who run a youth leadership camp that brings together kids from across the country so they can interact with Namibians from different tribal backgrounds.

''It's really just a venue to get kids together and realize they are working toward the same goals,'' Loftfield said.

Despite the tough work and sometimes lonely existence - Bethanie has very few residents Loftfield's age - working with the children has made her feel purposeful and welcome.

''I'll walk to school in the morning and I'm tired and grumpy, but they're happy and singing,'' she said. ''It makes it easy to be there.''

(Published: January 7, 2007)

Copyright © Cape Cod Times. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Jason featured in his hometown paper

This was from the Idaho Press- Tribune on 12/30. The link didn't work so I posted the text from the article:

Idahoan helps to connect Africa

Jason Sears has lived in Namibia for a year helping to
spread technology, and he's ready for more

By Adam Ross - Idaho Press-Tribune

Jason Sears has fielded plenty questions during his holiday time back
in Idaho, there's just a couple he can do without.

"The worst is when people ask 'what's Africa like?'" Sears said.
"There's just so many things you can say."

But Sears didn't return from a vacation in Africa, he spent a year in
the southwest nation of Namibia as a Peace Corps volunteer, and will
soon head back to the land for another year of service. In Namibia,
Sears is lending his lifetime of computer knowledge to a nation
devoted to fixing its broken educational system.

"They spend a lot on education," said Sears, a graduate of Boise State
University. "Only 30 percent (of Namibians) graduate from 10th or 12th

Those who do get through the school system quickly find that there
are few career options in a nation whose main natural resources —
diamonds, uranium and fishing — are mainly exploited by foreign
countries. As part of the Peace Corps' Information Communication
Technology (ICT) project, Sears gives computer training to young
Namibians, teachings that are usually not available in a nation with
widespread areas still without electricity.

Traveling across the globe to live in a country that is only 16 years
old (after gaining its independence from South Africa) was a huge
decision, but one that was not entirely unexpected.

"It's definitely in-line with his character," said Jason's mother,
Esther Sears. "It took a little getting used to, but we're extremely
proud of him. He's accomplished a great deal and has made a huge

Sears' life in Namibia began with spending a month with a local
family, learning the skills that he would need on his own — such as
washing laundry in a basin and taking a bath in a bucket.

Sears spent his introductory weeks in a city neighborhood, but would
be doing his teachings in the poverty-stricken "locations," areas
outside the cities conceived during the apartheid era where the black
population was once forced to live. The locations still remain, with
neighborhoods frequently constructed out of crude metals and wood.

"It's amazing to walk through," said Sears, who attended Boise's
Capital High. "It's in not like (in America) where you see someone and
say 'hi,' there you have to stop and have a conversation with people,
and sometimes they invite you in and serve you food."

The same enthusiasm that thrilled Sears throughout the villages was
also present in his classroom, with students eager to learn computer
training. A challenge facing Sears as a teacher was that his students
had no access to computers at home — all of the skill building had to
happen during his limited classroom time.

"Traditional teaching won't work, because we would have such a mix of
experience levels," Sears said. "We ended up doing project-based stuff
like making movies, and had the less-experienced students learn from
the others. Unless they apply what they learn there's no chance they
will remember the skills."

The technology training is seen by the locals as a way out of the
villages, which have no economy to speak of and a heavy concentration
of AIDS infections and alcoholism. The latter is in part a result of
Namibia's beer culture, with residents frequently brewing their own
beer and often setting up their small house as a makeshift

Back home in Boise, Sears was met with an unwelcome greeting — cold
temperatures. Sears eventually grew accustomed to the constant triple
digit temperatures of Namibia, heat so assaulting that pants and
long-sleeved shirts become the preferred defense against the sun's
rays. Before leaving for Africa again on Jan. 2, Sears is busy raising
funds for the ICT efforts in Namibia. Sears and his partners (a group
of Namibian students who applied to teach alongside him) need
financial help with their bus travel from village to village they make
throughout the year.

Beyond a couple unanswerable questions, Sears has found it easy
adjusting to American life again during his brief stopover at home.

"Some people were worried that I would be a totally different person,"
Sears said. "But we've picked right up from where we left before."

How to help

Jason Sears is raising funds to help with transportation costs related
to his cause in Namibia. Any small donation will be greatly
appreciated. To donate, visit Sears' Web site at

Copyright 2005 Idaho Press-Tribune. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or