Namibia Culture/Food Day

John and David

These are my language trainers. some of you have heard a lot about them already.

Mopani Worm

This is a mopani worm that I ate; thus, I finally lived out my “Become Simba” fantasy. And in case you were wondering, it was absolutely disgusting… salty with this other extra flavor that i can’t describe. And it was highly chewy, exactly how you’d think the texture of a worm would be, but it also has wood particles inside it, so as you’re chewing the chewiness, you’re also crunching on sandy bits. yum.

A woman with the ideal balance of traditional and modern

descaling fish

the chicken was trying to escape

De-feathering the chickens with John

I always wondered whether meat would taste better/more satisfying if I was the one who killed it and prepared it. And the answer is definitely NO. I think I had one bite of that chicken. Though ripping out its feathers was oddly soothing. I’m already looking forward to my good ol’ boneless, faceless, factory-produced, American meat. Thankfully I wasn’t the one who had to kill the chickens, though I do have a video which is available upon request. I must say it’s kind of disturbing.

Bread making

Traditional stove

food line

Final Product

I know that plate looks like highly appetizing, but I must say I wasn’t a big fan. Namibians love meat and starch, and that’s about it. They eat every part of the animal, and they don’t really put spices on anything so it kind of just tastes like weird gamey mush. So yeah im already missing Chipotle.

Other things I ate:

  • The head of a goat, and it was definitely smiling at me
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SITE ANNOUNCEMENT

We got placed at our sites!!! Here’s what I know about mine:

  • I’m an English and Math teacher
  • At an orphanage
  • In a village called Mavandje, which is 15km from Rundu,
  • Which is in the Kavango region of Namibia.
  • There are 132 kids
  • from grades 0-10
  • And there are two other teachers.
  • And I’m requested to teach “sewing”
Ill be living full time at the orphanage, and I’ll share a kitchen with the other teachers, but will get my own room. There’s electricity and running water, and we use solar lamps. This site is also the first orphanage the Peace Corps Namibia has ever placed a volunteer in, so I’m definitely the guinea pig! Also, out of all the other volunteers, I have the highest student to teacher ratio, and the greatest range of ages and abilities. So it’s going to be a unique/challenging experience but I’m SO excited.
Going to our sites for a week on FRIDAY. Wish me luck?

A Story

Let me tell you a little story, called, “The First Time Sydney Neuschel Ever Taught A Class.”

It started out as a normal day shadowing teachers at a Namibian junior high. As I quietly sit down at the back of a math classroom during fifth period (notebook and pencil in hand), the teacher informs me that he has to go “check on the Water-Leaking-In-the-Playground Situation (which – after a week at this school – I understand to mean that he’s not coming back.). So I’m on my own for forty minutes…and decide to play “Heads Up Seven Up” with the kids.

The 30 students and I begin the game. Everyone is happy and joyous. Good job, Sydney! You’re going to be a great teacher some day. The game is super fun… all the students love me… but joy starts to slooooowly turn into disorganization. The class starts getting rowdier and rowdier – with the climax coming when one student asking if he can rap for me. Who can so no to that? So this is what happened:

Then it turned into this:

And finally this:

You can’t tell from the videos, but in between the performances, the class is getting ABSOLUTELY out of control. Like, everyone is screaming, the students are arguing for the chance to perform, and I’m sure every teacher in the school can hear us. Hm.  I kind of start to panic, remembering what I have learned in training: that Namibian middle school kids are impossible to calm down unless you beat them. Meanwhile, I try to look relaxed and in-control.

Then, as I’m in the front trying to calm everyone down, I turn around to see that ONE KID HAS PINNED ANOTHER TO THE BACK WALL BY THE THROAT. Yup. A fight is breaking out in my classroom. Doesn’t this only happen in “Save the Last Dance”?

Option A: Go get a teacher

Option B: Break up the fight alone.

My pride won out and I settled with Option B, trying to maintain my calm while I walk to the back of the room. But as I’m walking, EVERY OTHER BOY in the class stands up and joins the fight – so by the time I get there, there are at least 10 guys in a brawl punching each other.  I think I peed my pants a little.

I don’t even know how I did this, but I maintained 100% composure. And because I couldn’t force them apart, (they were all as tall as I am), I just picked each individual out and told them to sit down. And they did. How did that work? I don’t know, but I managed to make them stop. Still replaying the events in my head.

By the end of forty minutes I was totally exhausted…I don’t know how I’m going to handle 2 years of that. On the plus side, I hugged every student on the way out the door, and I traded my African bracelet for a rubber one. Now I will never forget my first day of teaching.


Nathan

is my host brother. and he’s awesome. We got in a fight yesterday because I wouldn’t buy him a “cool draank” but then after I told him he was being a brat we did our high five routine and made up. I think he likes me because he started carrying around my other camelback water bottle just like I do. Aaand it’s kind of nice that he copies me because yesterday he copied my dishwashing, so I had only half the work. He also likes the Lion King so thats a bonus point right there.

this perfectly describes him

um, yeah

 


A Day in the Life

Hi! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post anything lately… but now I have an internet stick so hopefully I can write more often. Since I am now officially three weeks in, i feel settled and have a routine. Wanna see it?

5:45 – Wake up

5:45-6:30 – Bucket bath. And yes, it takes me 45 minutes to execute one of these…they’re way harder than you’d expect, and involve me huddling in several complicated yoga positions in freezing cold water, trying to rinse the soap off.

6:50 – I leave my house and see the beautiful sunrise over the mountains. Here’s a little taste, I hope it entices you to visit me.

This is my house.  I live with a 33 year-old Host Mom – Nicoltine – though we call each other “sister” because that’s how it feels. Her son is named Nathan, and he is five, a great dancer, and is fluent in three languages already.

My House

6:50-7:00 – Walk to the bus stop. I arm myself with a rock in each hand, as there are at least three attack dogs on my way to school. I’m pretty sure that one of them has rabies, as it charged at Mo and I the other day. We tried to look for signs of frothing-at-the-mouth, but then were distracted by our screaming and rock throwing hysteria.

7:30-8:00 – We all sing and dance to traditional Namibian songs. Our favorite song is called “Tate Wetu,” with “Dumela Kaufela” coming in close second.

8:00 – 10:30 – This is usually language training. I have the two best language trainers here. Their names are David and John, and they’re both from the Kavango region, where I will be moving in a month and a week (ah!). Incidentally, my Rukwangali skills are dismal.

10:30 – Tea break! We eat a lot of cheese and crackers at this point.

10:30-4:30 – The rest of the day is spent doing more training. This can include: more language classes, Safety and Security training, Cross Cultural sessions, and Teaching Technical training. There is SO much to learn, and I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.

By around lunchtime, the center is burning hot and our energy wears down a little. We have come up with a lot of different games/activities to get through the day(s). The activities include but are not limited to: Assassin, Buffalo, Guardian Angel, Death Poem Writing, Joker Delivering, Note Passing, Wink Tackle, etc.

4:30 – After I come home, I watch some cartoons with Nathan and cook dinner with Nicoltine. Nathan always gets served dinner first, as he is the “man” of the house.  So far my meals have been pretty good! We were warned that Namibians only eat starch and meat, and that has been the experience of most of the other PCTs…but I have been fortunate enough to get vegetables as well. I ate liver for the first time the other day. That was interesting.

9:00 – This is when I go to bed.