Written by Kasey Henderson, a WorldTeach Namibia ’17 volunteer, she blogged about her entire experience on her blog, “Well this doesn’t happen in LA.” This was published originally March 26, 2017.
Over the past few months I have found that certain things pop up over and over, both at school and in my village. No matter how many times I experience them, however, I am still amazed. I have included a short list of 6 things that I have witnessed multiple times over the past three months.
- Staff Meetings
- I have sat through 2 staff meetings a week since coming here and each one is equally amusing and confusing. The content of these meetings is not limited to the school and how to better our learner’s education. Instead we discuss things such as the presence of goats on the school property, which is a BIG problem as they take over the classrooms if left open, how to best catch a hike into town, and black magic. Now I did not take this seriously the first time it was brought up and I was lectured about the seriousness of the issue for around an hour. It is apparently proper to talk about how you are being cursed with black magic and as such are having nightmares each night at a staff meeting. I’m not sure why this is the appropriate platform to discuss this in but it has come up at multiple meetings, resulting in a collective prayer to ward it off. While I’m not sure I entirely understand all of what goes on in our staff meetings, I am always thoroughly entertained.
- I am constantly amazed by the tenacity and resilience of the children in my community. Beginning in pre-primary school, these children walk themselves to school, often multiple kilometers and arrive before 7 for classes. Not only is this incredibly amazing, but it shocks me as I am not sure my own 12-year-old brother would be able to do this. Additionally, they are filled with positive energy that never wanes. If they see me on a run, they will join me running at my pace for 5 kilometers just to spend time with me. Their smiles and excitement over the smallest things always brightens my day.
- Respect for teachers
- Teachers here, and adults in general, are given an incredible amount of respect that I think is not seen back home. When a student enters a classroom, they knock and wait for you to receive them. In my specific region, they often will bow or curtsy before talking to you and will do the same when I pass back homework or hand out an assignment. They also clap their hands when greeting me as a sign of respect and refer to me as Madam or Miss. This respect that is so ingrained in their culture has been remarkable to witness, and each time a learner curtsies before speaking to me I am filled with such admiration for this community.
- The time it takes people to talk
- We had a school meeting with all learners to discuss the code of conduct. There were 20 rules that were being discussed and our Head of Department was reading them off of a list. This meeting was supposed to take around 40 minutes. It actually took 2 and a half hours. This is a relatively common occurrence. There was a parents meeting that was supposed to take place from 10:30-1 and it ended up going until 3:45. I’m not sure what it is but everything takes so much longer than it should.
- Bugs… bugs literally everywhere
- If I have learned anything in my three months in Namibia, it is that bugs are the most resilient creatures in the world. There is a spray called Doom here that is supposed to kill any and all bugs; it’s incredibly toxic but if you spray it in a room and leave for 15 minutes, ideally you can return to a bug free room. While Doom definitely works for a day or two, those bugs will return every single time. Sometimes I feel like they are multiplying in thin air and they somehow are able to get me even through my mosquito net. I swear they just appear out of nowhere and even if they aren’t biting, their presence still creeps me out.
- My learners LOVE soccer, like truly love it. They talk about it nonstop, have stick on tattoos of famous soccer players, sign their name as Messi and Ronaldo on their homework, and could spend hours watching it. Not only is it their favorite sport, but they are absolutely amazing at playing it as well. Getting to go to soccer games at my school is one of my favorite things to do. Even though there is no girls’ soccer team (I’m working on it), the entire school comes out for these games. The girls are just as invested in the game as those on the field and they are so good in their positions that its incredibly entertaining to watch. What’s even more amazing is that they are able to play soccer with little to no equipment that we would consider necessary back home. Many of the learners wear sneakers instead of cleats, and constantly fall because of their lack of grip on the field. No one has shin guards and the ball they play with has to be pumped up at least three times a game. None of this stops them from enjoying the sport though. Additionally, this love of soccer extends off the field. The debate over whether Messi or Ronaldo is a better player has monopolized many classroom conversations, and I have actually seen a fist fight break out over which team is best. Soccer is a big deal here.
While I have only been here for around three months, I have found that these 6 things extend outside my village and are relatively similar throughout the Zambezi region of Namibia. It has been so enlightening and I feel like I am constantly learning so much about these amazing people and their culture.