Now that the initial culture shock has passed and I am finding myself in a routine, I am battling constant feelings of frustration. I am sure this is part of the experience and I will learn to cope, but man, I am biting my tongue ALL THE TIME! Here are some examples:
- The language of instruction here is English, unless it is Rukwangali class. But, all day long, all I hear the teachers speaking to the kids is Rukwangali. Very little English is used in the classroom and none outside the classroom. And then the principal wonders why the English language level of all learners at his school is so poor???!!!
- One of my learners came to me for help with math last week and her arm was in a cast and sling. When I asked her what happened, she said that one of the teachers beat her with a stick and broke her hand. While I doubt it was broken, likely fractured, she had to visit a doctor and wear a cast because of a beating from a teacher! It’s absolutely crazy!
- I was told at the beginning of last week that I needed to come up with a punishment for learners that fail my tests. For example, the grade 8’s who failed their Agriculture test had to remove all the grass from the front yard of the school. They were raking and digging for over 3 hours. I explained that I don’t teach that way and that failing a test is punishment enough. I tried to explain that I motivate through positivity and praise, but was told that it wouldn’t work with these kids.
- The shortage of desks and chairs in the grade 8 classes are creating a major problem. When the students line up to come into the class, they trample each other (literally) to get into the class first to get a chair. Then arguments break out and we’ve wasted 10 minutes of class (which is only 40 minutes) trying to get them all settled. It’s ridiculous – but I really can’t blame them.
- There is absolutely NO concept of sharing in the Namibian culture. If they ask to borrow something, you will never see it again! One of the other teachers asked if he could use some laundry detergent – so I gave him my box. He used the entire box and gave it back to me empty! And if you offer someone something, they will finish it all. For example, I offered some raisins to a co-worker, and he emptied the bag into his hands.
- Basic fact – Food left out in the open in the kitchen attracts cockroaches. No one else but me seems to care about this. On the weekend, while my room-mates were away, I cleaned the entire kitchen. They came back Sunday night, and after cooking there was leftover food everywhere, dirty dishes in the sink, pasta stuck to the floor… and of course, within an hour, the kitchen was covered in cockroaches.
I hate to be so negative – but I want this blog to reflect my true experiences. Some positive things are happening:
- The school inspector was here today and evaluated the physical situation of the classrooms. The lack of lighting in the classes, the overcrowding and the shortage of desks and chairs is apparently going to be dealt with. Not sure how quickly, but at least there is hope.
- I am cooking more here than I ever did at home!
- The mosquitos have finally left me alone!
- Kayla and I are in the midst of planning our trip together. She is coming to visit in April and we are going to tour South Western Africa for a couple weeks. Thanks to my Mama for helping research possible tours! Can’t tell you how excited I am for that!
- I am reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and it is amazing. Keeping me busy – so happy there are two more books in the series when I finish this one.
I want to say thank you to everyone for their encouraging emails and comments! Thanks also to my Mama, Alisa, Kayla, Dad and Jan and Jamie who keep me going by calling once a week. I couldn’t do this without you guys! Miss you all very much! Happy Valentine’s Day!