Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farewell Okahao and Shaanika Nashilongo SSS

This past week was my last in Okahao and at Shaanika Nashinlongo SSS. It was really hard to leave, but my colleagues gave me the best farewell I've ever experienced!

The last week of teaching was exhausting but very rewarding. This week was focused mainly on a comprehensive review of the skills I focused on during my time here. My approach was to split each class in half for the two remaining class period. The first half practiced their typing with the typing skills program, and the other half was up front doing a review/game with me. Then, the next time we met, they switched. The review/game consisted of 15 or so learners crowded around my main computer up front. I would go around the line of learners and ask them a question, or to demonstrate a skill on the computer that was projected on the chalkboard. If they didn't know it, or answered incorrectly, we would move on to the next learner. For correct answers, the learner would get a treat! This was always an effective motivating factor. At times, however, it caused complete chaos - like at the end of class when everyone in the class begged for a sweet. "Miss, a sweet! Miss, Miss!"

All in all, I was thrilled with the results. Learners who knew little to nothing about computer basics mastered them at the end of my time there. Of course there were also many who still struggled, but this helped to get them up to speed in a more one-on-one (but still with half their classmates watching...ha) setting. If I noticed someone didn't know how to do something, I was able to instruct them at that moment, or they watched their classmate to learn how.

Lots of photos were taken this last week, which the learners love. The funniest part about this is when I would join them for the photos. For some, this was the closest they had gotten to me, and took the opportunity to feel my hair and skin. I look a bit stressed in some of the photos as fingers are running through my hair and touching every inch of revealed skin... Every learner wanted his or her own photo with me, and always wanted to see themselves on the digital camera. Lots of fun photos to be posted on Facebook very soon!

The farewell I received from my colleagues was incredible. They planned a party for me and took a collection of funds from everyone. They threw a braii (bbq) with delicious meet and salad. The party had a teacher designated as a Director of Ceremonies, the principal gave a speech, I was given amazing Namibian cultural gifts, certificate of appreciation, a book of thank you notes, and many colleagues stood up to give a speech of thanks. I had no idea the impact I made on the teachers until it was expressed here. It was heart-warming to know that they appreciate their new or improved computer literacy, and the doors it will open for their future. I also gave a short (teary-eyed) speech attempting to put into words my thankfulness for the experience and their friendship. It's hard to even explain the kindness of this group of people and the wonderful farewell they gave me, so I won't write much more as it won't do it justice. Hands down, this was the nicest celebration I've ever experienced in my honor.

The last days were filled with hugs, tears, and goodbyes. I have never been so sad to leave a place. This has been a truly incredible experience and I will never forget the people and time I spent in Okahao and Shaanika Nashilongo.

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