4 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
Interested in teaching in Namibia for a summer? Consider applying to the WorldTeach Namibia program. But remember… you still have plenty to learn as well as teach, and learning from others is totally OK. Consider the wise words of Martha Caudill before you go!
For my survival, it was required of me to learn these things. I didn’t find this out until after I had learned them. And I learned them in the hardest way possible. Through experience. Trial and error. Many, many errors. But these lessons will go with me for the rest of my life.
People are people and let them be. Some are good, some are bad. Some are respectable, some are disgusting. Some will surprise you, some will let you down. You find that everywhere. Don’t judge anyone. Accept them and their choices. They smell. So? They stay with a guy that repeatedly cheats on them – that’s their choice. They would rather go to a witch doctor than a pediatrician. So be it. They put more effort into meaningless, menial paperwork than correcting bigger problems. They do. It takes a while but after living so far from your own way of doing things for this long you learn that, hey, everyone is entitled to their own way. Just because you don’t relate, agree, or understand, it doesn’t make them wrong. And it doesn’t give you the right to try to change anything.
I am so dumb. I don’t know anything. I’ve had education and experiences that make me think I know things. But life here constantly reminds me that I don’t. Oh yeah, all those teaching methodologies and philosophies and strategies that were going to make me the best teacher ever: Fail. As soon as I think I know what to do at the post office, they change the line! My assumptions are like ALWAYS wrong. I make too many generalizations. I think after being here and travelling and meeting the people I’ve met along my different ways, I’ve learned a lot about the world. I’ve experienced way more than most. I’ve seen both sides of many things. Specifically, I know a lot about a few things. As a whole, I’m naïve as they come. Learning about the world made me realize how little I know about it.
Your situation is what it is and you will adapt to it. You have bugs crawling all over you? You do. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. That’s right. Because it’s too hot and all efforts prove useless. You have men heckling you every step you take while you’re in town. Yep. What are you going to do about it? Deal with it. Experience will tell you that nothing you say or do has any impact. The heat… Right. It’s not changing. You have to wait in a 1 hour line at the bank for a 10 second interaction. Yes, you’ve done it 10 times. Are you going to complain? Ask for a supervisor? Go to another bank? HA. Nope, you’re gonna take a spot at the back of the line and cry silent tears mentally listing everything you hate about the countrywide absence of customer service. (When it comes to the bank, it is the bane of my existence.) I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You just learn to deal. In whatever way works for you, you deal. You make peace with the fact that this is just how things are and you cope.
The world at large does not care about me. I know, right! It’s really surprising. All this time, I thought it did.. My problems, my victories are nothing in the whole scheme of things. The worst parts of my life at home are peanuts compared to some of the things these kids go through every single day and I have so much smaller of an impact than my pride is okay with. I mean, I think about it: There is so much life happening beyond what my mind is capable of grasping at any single moment. Did I know about Herman Paulus this time last year? No. But he was over here living his life – making bows and arrows and shooting rabbits. Was his life affected by my personal struggles or defeats? Absolutely not. At the same time, all of the moments that I’ve been on top of the world – graduating, my brother’s wedding, weekends with my friends -these girls over here have been walking kilometers carrying water buckets on their heads and living in a culture that doesn’t value them. The parallels of life are incomprehensible. The world is so, so big and I am so, so small.