Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Recent Nam 25 PCV blogs, news and information for the month of February

Pages I've updated lately:
Namibia Links
Namibia Maps
Videos about Namibia
KhoeKhoegowab language lesson videos
More about the Damara People

Other web pages to check out:
Namibian Library Projects (search by country or name)
Check out this article and video about Nam 24's Jonathan Reichel

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

Jason's page of Nam 25 blogger photos and links

(Nam 26 bloggers)

Anker, Namibia on Google Earth (2/28) NEW
athletic day, uniforms for the orphans, etc. (2/19)
More photos from Anker (2/19)
Athletic day, frustrations and Greek (2/15)
Email about stuff (2/9)
Photos: life in Anker (2/9)
Athletics, discipline problems, etc. (2/2)
Home, Movies, and Books (1/27)

Amber's library project (search by name)
check it out (2/7)


What's up (2/24) NEW
3 untitled updates (2/9)
5 updates from Jan 27-Feb 1 (2/2)

fresh paint (2/2)

New Babies (2/20)
Old Writing (2/20)
On blogging - a centennial post (2/20)

Photos from Brock (2/20)

In the heat of the moment (2/9)

Update (2/15)
The Witching (2/14)


Chris's library project (search by name)


Another boy (2/16)
Officially done having parties (2/8)
The Big 30! (2/7)




Tech Squad's Ten Minutes of Fame (2/27) NEW
Sorry no posts! (2/23)
Me? Brad Pitt? (2/13)
Tech squad on the move (2/10)
The new tech squad (2/8)


Away from Blog City (2/26) NEW

Transfer yourself (2/23) NEW

Au Revoir, Mon Téléphone Cellulaire (2/25) NEW


Photos from February (2/28) NEW
Pictures from January (2/7)
Herero women in the dunes (2/7)



In the capital for a weekend (2/24) NEW

Snack attack (2/10)

Nam 26 bloggers active lately:

Link to previous list of recent blogs (January 2007)

Recent news from Namibia

Todays Front Page from "The Namibian"

Anker, Namibia on Google Earth

Google Earth finally posted a high definition satellite photo of Anker. You can compare it to the hand drawn map Amy sent us to see some of the landmarks including: her house, the school and the hostel.

Use this link if you want to download Google Earth (it's free): Google Earth

Use this link to find it if you have Google Earth: Anker

For those who don't have Google Earth, you can link to this same spot on Google Maps by using this link: Anker

Google Earth Image of Anker, Namibia
(click on map to enlarge)

Hand drawn map of Anker, Namibia
(click to enlarge, then click to enlarge again)
(note: north is left on this map)

Monday, February 19, 2007

athletic day, uniforms for the orphans, etc.

Hello all,
This weekend was the cluster athletics in Kamanjab. I went with the kids, partly just to get out of the village for a bit. African school trips always remind me of youth group trips run by crazy people on a budget of 15 cents a day. We got there, ate our dinner (some sort of Kool-Aid served from a huge caldron, and three slices of bread with butter and a little jelly) then, after the kids played for a bit, we went to sleep on the floor of a school room (the kids slept in pairs, one blanket under and one over, but I was tightly packed between two hostel sisters on hostel mattresses.) The kids woke up before dawn at 5AM, we wached outside under the tap and then had breakfast (sweet, milky tea and three slices of bread with butter and a little jelly.)

The athletic day was far less organized than our day, but we got through it. Then I did a little grocery shopping, ate lunch (sausages, rice, and pumpkin) and all the kids crowded onto the back of a lorry that looked sort of like it was meant to hold cattle (a lorry is a truck, not a pickup, an actual open topped truck.) Then we went home, dropping kids at every farm we passed.

On Friday last week a truck with USAID on the side pulled up and a bunch of Namibian Red Cross workers got out. They unloaded 14 full school uniforms (with shirts, pants or skirts, socks, shoes, and sweaters) as well as school bags, school sets (with scissors, pencils, pens, rulers, markers, pencil sharpeners, and erasers.) They were donated by, I think, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia, but they might have been supplied by the Church Alliance for Orphans or Catholic Aids Action or something. They are for the orphans, although I think that we will probably redistribute a few of them. Sometimes the orphans aren't the ones who are in the most need. For example, there's a kid who lost both parents, but he lives at the Herero shop with his grandfather and aunts. He has one of the nicest school uniforms and he is one of about three or four kids who might possibly be considered a little chubby (not by American standards, but in comparison to the other kids who all seem to look so stringy, like they're made of nothing but tendons and bone.) On the other side, there are kids who have both parents, but have no school uniforms, or only ones that are too small and too patched, no shoes, and are obviously needier. It was really wonderful to see everything getting unloaded and to see real supplies that will actually help the children themselves, instead of endless workshops or other "sustainable" projects. I know that it's not sustainable to just give kids uniforms, but sometimes I feel like it's OK that some things aren't sustainable. These are real things that will really make a big difference in the lives of real children and I think that's important too.

Anyway, that's most of my life. I've gotten over grumbling about the curriculum change and have started to rewrite and replan everything, but I'm not too happy about it. Other than that, life's going well. Hope everyone's doing fine. Enjoy the pictures


More photos from Anker

Tree Climbing

Kids in a tree

Baby Gwennie

More dancing

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Athletic day, frustrations, and some Greek (email from Amy)

Kids drumming and dancing in Anker

Last week was the athletic day. It was actually a rather enjoyable day (especially since it meant that I don't have to do athletic training in the afternoon anymore.) I was one of the scorekeepers as usual (I think they only keep me around for my ability to add quickly without errors in my arithmetic.) There was lots of singing and dancing, as well as running. The kids run barefoot on a track whose lines are dug into an empty field. The long jump is simply done into a pit of dug up earth. The only equipment that they use are two metal poles for the high jump with a string held onto them by two kids and a bunch of hostel mattresses on the other side, and the javelin and shotput. Otherwise, it's just bare feet and lungs. Anyway, it was good, although it was also tiring. This week I'm going to go to supervise the kids who made it to the cluster athletics in Kamanjab (they needed a female teacher to supervise and I needed to get out of the village for a bit.) I'm hoping it will go OK.

This was my frustration for the week. On Wednesday I got a copy of the new syllabus for Natural Science and Health Education and, apparently, for the past four weeks I've been teaching what amounts to about 4 pages at the end of the one science book that I have that follows this curriculum. I am extremely frustrated. Many of the topics of the past weeks (especially weather) weren't even covered at all. Plus we haven't had our cluster meeting yet, so I don't even know if I should switch abruptly to a new topic or stick with this one and hope that no one noticed the syllabus changes. If worst comes to worst I think I'll stick with this topic and write my own final exam and refuse to give the kids the cluster exam at the end of the term.

It's really frustrating because I had this term all planned out and it means that most of my lesson plans and activities from last year will be worthless. Plus, we don't have any textbooks that fit the new curriculum and the kids haven't had the new curriculum in grade 6 or 5. Sometimes the Namibian way of doing things makes me want to rip my hair out. Especially frustrating is the fact that I asked about this last year and no one seemed at all concerned. The English syllabus has changed as well, but I never really followed that syllabus closely anyway (it suggested that I have the grade 7s read a short novel- like that would work) and the kids are really tested mostly on their comprehension of English, whereas in science they actually need to know specific facts and topics.

In other news, I've decided to take up Greek again. I've been using some stuff off the internet to revise my Greek (for those of you who don't know, I took 3 semesters in college) which has gotten unforgivably rusty. Also I'm about a quarter of the way through Anna Karinina which I started last year but never finished. I think I'll get through it this time. Other than a few frustrations life's treating me pretty well.

Hope you all are fine. Much love.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Email about stuff (email from Amy)

Hey everyone,
Funny story for the day, I think that one of my 7th grade boys (12 years old) has a crush on me. He keeps following me around and asking me questions that he already knows the answers to. It's a little cute, but mostly it's just annoying. Oh, I also told the teachers that I wasn't allowed to drink coffee when I was a kid, which they thought was ridiculously funny. I told them that American children are told that coffee will stunt their growth, which they thought was even funnier. They said it was probably because the parents wanted to save the sugar (I swear they only heat the coffee here in order to be able to dissolve more sugar into it.) They also said it was probably just a story like when parents tell their kids that babies are brought by aeroplanes. That's right, aeroplanes. I suppose our stories sound just as strange to other people, but still, aeroplanes?!?

OK, this week we have the next volume of our series "health issues you never thought you'd have to deal with." Last year it was Polio. This year it is (drumb roll please)---Cholera. That's right, a disease that I mostly associate with dark Victorian novels (ala Charles Dickens) is apparently still around and kicking here. There's been an outbreak in my region (which is not at all cool, considering, according to my copy of Where There is No Doctor, the main result of cholera is death due to dehydration when you rapidly loose all of the water in your body through "rice water diarrhea.")

Anyway, don't worry too much about me, most of the cases have been up in the Opuwo area and I am pretty isolated here, plus I practice good hygene, so I should be fine. Still, they told me that I have to boil my water in addition to the double filtering that I already do and overcook all my food. Yay, more steps to add before I can actually drink the running water in the house.

In other health news, although vastly less dangerous, this is far more annoying for me, some of my food has become infested with weavils (that's what I think they are-tiny black insects.) My mealie meal had to be thrown away because it was so badly contaminated and I have found some in my sugar and my milk powder (although I keep both of those in tight plastic containers.) Anyway, I'm hoping that it's just because of the rainy season. They invaded about a week or two ago and I did a thorough cleaning and haven't seen any in my food since then.

This year really is going so much better than last year. I have more discipline problems, but at least I know how to run the class, how to plan the lessons (I was looking back at my lesson plans from last year and I have no clue what made me think some of those things would work), and just how to teach in general. I feel like I am in control. Also, I know how to get the things I need (internet access, food, contact with other volunteers, etc.)

Other than that, not much has been happening. Tomorrow is the athletic day, so I have to be up early early early (6:30 on a Saturday- not fun) I got a new camera while I was home, and I promised people more photos, so I'm trying to send those with this email.

Oh, also, the rains last week were a fluke and they still think that it might be a drought here.

OK, that's all for now,

Much love

Photos: life in Anker

Kids buying sugar at Ronnie's store

Kids and a woman outside their house

I don't know why I like this photo, but I do

Kids fixing the windows

Kids playing

Friday, February 02, 2007

Athletics, discipline problems, etc.


We'll start off with funny teaching stories, since everyone likes those. We've been doing athletics this week (which, by the way is exhausting—I've been working from 6:30 AM- 6 PM with a 2 hour lunch/siesta. That works out to 10 hour days, plus lesson planning, marking books, and preparing visual aids. I intend to mark all of the Grade 6 and 7 English and Grade 7 science books this weekend, which will probably work out to 6-8 hours of marking) anyway, there's a small girl who really likes me (her name is Forget-i which means just what it sounds like) and she was wearing a shirt with Ariel on it. I was holding her and she said to one of the other people in KhoeKhoe, "Look, it's Miss Amy."

Oh, also, the younger grades have been having a field day with my skin and hair, which I let them touch and do whatever to, as long as they don't get in my way as I'm recording scores. I'll have 10 or so grade 1-4 girls touching my hair and gently rubbing the hair on my arm. They were really excited about the underside of my arm for some reason. I think because it doesn't have hair and because you can see the blood vessels.

OK, I like my school again. Wednesday was one of my worst days. We got almost nothing done and the kids were just wretched to me. I have never had my own classroom, but on Wednesday they decided that, because of the lack of chairs and desks, myself and another teacher would have to move around to whichever of the other 3 classrooms was empty. This not only caused chaos for me and for the kids, and made it impossible for me to use the visual aids I had made as well as making it difficult to use the chalkboards (having to save things for other teachers), but additionally it made me feel like I was on the kid's territory instead of them on my territory.

I finally went into the library and had a good cry. I just feel so helpless with the grade 7s. I asked them one day why they didn't respect me and one of the better learners said it was because I didn't beat them. Then I (ironically I thought, asked them if they would like me to beat them and they all said "Yes") Anyway, yesterday (Thursday) all 10 of the teachers went into the grade 7 classroom and talked to the learners about their behaviour for about an hour. I might still have to deal with the kids being wretched, but at least I know I have some back up.

I've been trying a system where they can earn points towards a class party for being good, but it's difficult without a steady classroom. They say they have chairs and desks for us, but they're stuck in Otjiwarongo because of the rains. Which brings me to my last bit of good news—looks like we're not in a drought after all, it has rained every day this week, for a grand total of, at minimum, 30 mm of rain. Everything is starting to green up.

Finally, for those keeping track, I finished The Sun Also Rises, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and I started To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and The Call of the Wild by Jack London. I'm still halfway through Macbeth.

That's all from this neck of the savanna.

Hope you all are doing well

Lots of love