Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Okahao and First Days of School

I arrived in Okahao after a ten hour care ride with eight other people and no air-conditioning! Needless to say, it was a relief to finally arrive at my site.

My new roommate, Jennifer, is wonderful! She is a year-long WorldTeach volunteer in her second year from Canada. She welcomed me to my new home-away-from-home and took me around our school and town the first evening.

Our place is basic, but has everything we need. I have my own room and we have a bathroom, small kitchen, and living room space. We live on the school grounds, along with most of the other teachers.

Okahao is a good-sized town that has most of what I would need on a daily basis. It consists of the school, a church, a community library, a hospital, bars and some stores. It is bigger than I anticipated, but still nothing like a town at home. For example, there are donkeys and goats and cows everywhere – just roaming freely! It’s pretty crazy to hear donkeys braying outside your bedroom window.

Saturday we took a hike (40 minutes or so) into the nearest “large city”, Oshakati, to do our grocery shopping and look around. Oshakati is surprisingly well equipped for feeling like you’re really out in the middle of nowhere. They have a small shopping center and market, Internet cafĂ©, etc. There are stores where I can get anything I would probably get in the U.S. It’s pretty amazing. My favorite part of the experience would have to be stopping on the way there for a cow in the middle of the road, and doing the same on the way back for a donkey.
Sunday the highlight was my run through town. People looked at my like I was a.) crazy, and b.) a celebrity. Everyone was shouting Oshiwambo and English greetings at me, and one boy actually came up and started running with me! Jen and I took a run last night (we’ve set a plan to run 3-4 times a week together) as the day was cooling down and had twice the attention! A couple of the teachers saw us and they’ve expressed interest in us starting a teacher’s running group, so we’ll see!

I am teaching at Shaanika Oshilongo Senior Secondary School, a hostel school where 650 learners live at the school and the teachers as well. I left Reed, but haven’t escaped the idea of living where I work! :☺

My first day of school was great, once I got past the fact that I had to be up at 5:30 AM. Meme Ilyambula, the acting principal, introduced me to the entire school at morning devotion at 6:30 AM. Then, I was integrated into the staff room, and introduced to my new colleagues. Everyone is really great and I’m looking forward to getting to know them.

I did not expect having to run a classroom yesterday, but the current pseudo ICT teacher got excited to hand his work over, and gave me all of his grade 11 and 12 computer classes (which is 26 periods total, so about 3-5 per day). Then, he just left me in the classroom and told me to entertain them…so there wasn’t too much of a lesson on computers, more of Heads Up, 7 Up time! I had been warned that there would be some lazy teachers eager to pass the work onto me; I just didn’t know it would happen on day one!

Today was more structured for sure. For my classes I created an ICT Knowledge Assessment to help me gauge what they know, and what they still need to learn. From my first three sections, I’ve discovered that they know very little to nothing at all about computers in practice. Their computer classes so far have been focused on theory and memorization, not actually how to use a computer. One of my biggest challenges will be teaching them how to type correctly and efficiently. None of them know how to type using the home keys, and neither do the teachers. I’ve been asked to type assignments/exams for teachers because it takes them so long to do it themselves, if they even know how to turn on the computer at all. I’m working on getting a typing skills program for the computers to develop their abilities in this area.
I will begin classes for the teachers next week. We will have a beginners group and an intermediate group. Each will meet two times per week. I’m finding my schedule is getting pretty full, between class periods and lesson planning, so I don’t think I’ll have time after all to teach any additional courses as I had hoped.

The learners in general are well behaved and very excited to learn about computers. They seem excited to have a new teacher, “Miss Dana”, and asked me lots of questions, like if I knew 50 Cent, or Barack Obama! They were very interested to know if I was married, and if I had kids. They are also very curious about the USA.

World Cup fever is taking over around here, and since we have a TV in our house, we have access to watching the games. This means a constant stream of learners (mostly boys) coming by to ask if they may watch the games. Last night we had sixteen boys huddled around the TV watching the Paraguay-Italy game. It was adorable.

This is getting awfully long, but another especially notable experience is the African sky. The sunsets are gorgeous – the reddest skies I have ever seen. The starry nights are exceedingly more incredible. The stars look huge, and close, and the sky looks bigger than I have ever experienced.

I promise my blog updates won’t always be this long! Thank you for reading. I have also updated my contact information in Namibia on the side of the page. Be well!

1 comment:

  1. I love it! At one point you referred to students as computers haha - time to disconnect sissy ;) I'm so proud of you. You have a lot of work to do and I feel so blessed that God is using your skills and loving spirit to help educate teachers and students!