Some Questions Answered
I have some time at the Peace Corps office here in town, and so I want to answer your questions. Some of you asked the same thing, so I will only answer each question once. Feel free to write with more questions or comments!
Nikki – The school is made up of 10 classrooms and one room as a small library. (Not to mention the principal’s office and staff room). My school has grades 8-9, and there are three classes for each grade (8A, 8B, 8C, 9A, 9B, etc). The learners stay in the same room all day long and the teachers rotate to them. There are 35-40 learners in each classroom (~350 in total).
Rachel – Ongini! Nawa? (What’s up? Are you good?) Since the national language of Namibia is English, I speak my learners only in English (although sometimes I sprinkle in words in their native language, Oshiwambo, just to grab their attention). Outside of the classrooms in the villages, many of the adults don’t speak any English, so I am learning Oshiwambo. Just like any language, it takes a large effort to learn Oshiwambo. I am getting better every day and it is interesting to talk in their language.
Jake – there are many, many native languages spoken in Namibia. Different groups usually cannot understand each other. I am living with the Owambo people, in the area called Owamboland. All Owambo people speak one of seven dialects of Oshiwambo. Even though the dialects are slightly different, they can all understand each other. One of my favorite parts of their language is the greeting. In the morning, it’s:
Wa-la-la-po, Meme? (good morning, mom?)
Nawanga? (are you good?)
In the afternoon, substitute walalapo with Wu-hala-po and in the evening, use Wa-tu-ke-wapo. If you are talking to a man, use Tate instead of Meme.
Ben – I didn’t notice a celebration for Human Rights Day. Maybe it’s one of those holidays where people take notice, but they don’t have a formal celebration. Also, you asked about the clicking sound with my throat. There are no clicking sounds in the Oshiwambo language, which is the language of my family and community. But, I do have a friend here who is from a different tribe, called Damara. Her language does use clicks, and she has taught me to say a few words.
Natasha – Of course I will visit you when I return to America. I will show you lots of pictures and speak the language for you.
Alison - I am teaching physical science and math (they call it maths here). The weather is getting a bit cooler because the hottest days of summer are gone, but even so, it can be over 100 degrees in my room on a sunny day. At night, it’s usually cool, which is very very nice, because during the hottest days of summer, I would sweat all night long. Teaching is sometimes fun, but also a very big challenge for me. I will talk more about these challenges in the future.
Ben – an experience like the Peace Corps doesn’t have to come around only once in a lifetime. There is no age limit, so maybe I will join again after I am retired! I have to dress nicely for school, so unfortunately, I can’t wear shorts to work. My wardrobe for work is dressy, but after work it’s shorts and shortsleeves. Sometimes I don’t wear a shirt because the heat is too great. My room is OK, but very hot. And there are mosquitos and flies in my village.
Warren – I finish my job in December of 2006. I will probably travel to some other countries for a while before I come home though. There are 8 periods in a day. The last subject ends at 1:45, and they have study hall until 3:30. Your question about lunch has an interesting answer – they don’t have lunch! There are two breaks during the day – one is for 10 minutes, and one for 15. Usually, the learners buy rolls or small “fat cakes” from some women who are selling such things. That’s if they have a dollar with them. I have a feeling that many of them don’t eat at all during the day. You are getting penpals soon, and you can ask them for details about their family, etc.
Zivi – I do miss America sometimes, but I am enjoying my time so much that I think my two years here will fly by!
I am out of time! I will answer the rest of your questions soon. (You should learn here about a thing called "African time." On this continent, time is less urgent. When someone says 'now,' he usually means 'later.' When he says 'soon,' sometimes it means 'much later.'
I will finish your questions "now."