Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Break Part One: School’s Out For Summer and Group 26 Training

This was all typed almost two months ago. Sorry for the delay:

It’s been so long since I’ve updated my blog. Just been busy and haven’t been in the writing mood. It’s amazing how working on the school timetable can bring out the urge to do anything other than working on the timetable. Here’s the update of the past couple months.


I got to help out with the Group 26 training, which got me out of the last week of school. Didn’t matter as I had done all my final grades the day after my math exam and analyzed the results against the previous two terms. The learners who improved did so by over a full grade level. To bring things back down to reality, my grade average went from the low 20’s% in term 1 up to close to 34% on the term 3 final.

I took the train to Windhoek, taking the broken server to Schoolnet with me. Didn‘t get a lot of sleep because of hearing, “There‘s Mr. Mike” as people walked by me. Had breakfast with a couple of friends before heading up to Otavi. I got clearance to help with Group 26 up in Grootfontein. It wasn’t until the day before I left that I realized that Otavi was on the way to Groot. Yeah, I didn’t know much of Namibia north of Windhoek until now.

Had a great time on my “layover” at Rute‘s pad. A braai at one of her friends, deciding against eating a pheasant she found out running (only because we‘d need to pluck it - don‘t get me wrong … I grew up on a farm and helped raise chickens), I would’ve ran with her but I guess my running history intimidated her. Yeah, I was a sprinter in high school but completed two marathons (Chicago ‘97 and Twin Cities ‘01). Had a bonfire at her place, visit by another friend, and catching up on life. The most awesomest, coolest, bestest thing to happen was that Rute and I were heading to Jo’burg around the same time! Heading into the belly of the beast. Traveling with more people there is better than with fewer.

Anyways. I ended up getting a free hike with a volunteer doctor from Botswana up to Groot. Thank goodness they had a flat tire or they wouldn‘t have been at the gas station for me to catch them. What a change from seeing sand as far as the eye can see to vegetation covered mountains. They had real trees and green everywhere! Rute’s site had mountains but I didn’t get to see them up close. They dropped me off at the gas at the end of town. Fortunately it was only a couple blocks of walking.

My days in Groot were mostly a flashback to my CBT (community based training). They were a small group, 12 in all, but not as small as the Okombahe group, all five of us. They did have a lot of our idiosyncrasies that we had. I spent good portion of my time laughing because of the chaos of the first week - not knowing how many classes you’d teach and students in class. My first day at CBT involved our language trainer not being there, a drunk walking into one of our homes, the guys trying to remove him and picking up another drunk on the way, PC showing up and saving the day. Anyways, I digress. I hope I was able to impart my whole 365+ days of knowledge to the younglings. IDK … it felt like a piece of litmus paper dunked in water … not acidic and not basic - just somehow. I did get in a lot of good early morning runs.

After hearing some learners conversing in KKG, I introduced myself to all of them in Nama and they went absolutely wild! I said, “!Gai //goas. Ti /ons ge Mike Miller. Tita ge Minnesota sa xu ra ha. Tita ge Tses !na //an ha.” You have no idea how far speaking Nama goes in Namibia. They’re pretty low on the totem pole, so for a foreigner to know how to say anything in their language…an instant bond. I didn’t get to see much of the teaching – was leaving to midservice as they were starting. They look like a solid group of teachers.

Got a free ride back from the country director as well as getting to see the Hoba meteorite. At 50 tons, it’s the largest intact meteorite ever found on the planet.

Training was also a blast because when I got back to our mid-service I found out that I was supposed to be there. Oops. I must be a diva now as everyone I talked to was surprised that they allowed me to miss it. I knew my masters in education would be good for something.


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