Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Part of life: the MAN SCAM-X

I still laugh at that sounds like some kind of Internet bamboozle, doesn't it?

That was the phrase the four St. Therese JSS learners kept using over and over at the exhibition the July 6th weekend. Didn't get enough of the mince/curry/peach chutney that Sir Williams made? Part of life...

Lots of things have been going down the past months. First was the Southern Girls Conference in Keetmanshoop in June. Lots of fun was had by we volunteers and the gals. The closest I've felt to a rock star was when the ministry bus came to pick us up. Rolling in at the crack of dusk, the bus shows. Chester hops off to help load and elementary school learners swarm. Beth, standing on the bus, foolishly near an open window, gets hit by a rock. The learners here are deadly with rocks. I lock up the library and venture out as the learners center on me. They tell me how they'll miss me, touch my hair and start pulling it. Guess they must want a souvenir? Courtney tells the driver to get moving, worried a riot could break out. Ahhh... good ol' Tses.

The sessions from self-image/girl power to gender equity/rights to a phenomenal woman panel to HIV/AIDS (explaining exactly how HIV acts at the cellular level, something the HIV education here doesn't include) and a big dance party – I even broke out some dance moves when JT's SexyBack came up, to the surprise and laughter of my girls club. The only major dampener was the hostel they were staying in didn't have hot water for the showers, but they did for the baths. I woke up every day before 6am to take my hot bath, but I was staying with the volunteers and not in the hostel! The best moment(s): Two nights of making the no-bake cookies and eating it right out of the bowl, sans spoon.

No sooner had we been dropped off by our bus back at our site on Sunday (the primary learners chased after, trying to kick it) had I found out about another conference. A “Sir” Williams was back for two weeks, doing research down here for his doctorate. His other motives became clear, when he talked of the genesis of a St. Therese History Club. He also brought a friend with him, another Fulbright Scholar working on her PhD here in Namibia. The national exhibition was 5 – 8 of July. The three of us plus one history teacher plus one former teacher/community activist had ten days to help our club members do a research project on a topic they wrote in history class the month before, “Namibian Heroes of the South.” We took the two best from grade 9 and two from grade 10. I don't know how we did it, but we pulled it off. In the process, we got to go on a field trip to Keetmanshoop museum to do research and also to see how information can be displayed. The curator offered to help our learners type up and arrange their displays for the exhibition.

The best part about the two weeks was that I got to have visitors at my flat! The earliest I got to bed was 11:30, will all the talking. Even though his friend was just out of grad school, she was an aficionado of the 80's, so we got along swimmingly. No, don't think like that, she's married.

A week before it got to be below zero C and I was wearing as many clothes that would fit on my body to stay warm in my bedroom. By accident I left my hot plate on overnight, absent pot or pan thankfully. I walked in my kitchen the next morning and it was about 18 degrees C in there! I pulled my bed into the kitchen and have been using my fan + hot plate as a space heater since.

Back to the story...
So we had a slumber party in my kitchen for the first week. Again with the stories of St. Therese in 2001, how he created a Namibian version of the play Fiddler on the Roof, the glory days of Miss St. Therese (imagine the combined energy of NASCAR race and a monster truck rally) and other things the previous volunteers did during his tenure.

On Thursday, we piled four adults in the front of the bakkie and the four learners in the back, dressed in winter clothes and lots of blankets and made our way to the Rehoboth Spa on Thursday afternoon. Christian and I weren't willing to pay N$600 per night at the bungalow, but through his connections we were allowed to pitch a tent and stay outside, which we both jumped at. Small world experience: in talking about camping and such, it turns out that we just missed each other in the Grand Tetons back in August 2005 (my national park farewell tour before PC), doing the same trail (Lake Solitude&Paintbrush Trail loop) by about a week.

MAN SCAM – X. Nice name, eh? Breaking apart the acronym: MAN = Museum Association of Namibia. SCAM – X = SChools And Museum eXhibition. Some stunning works on display. The winning school got a week trip to Cape Town with a private tour of Robben Island (famous prisoner: Nelson Mandela) among other tours. Second place? A weekend at Omaruru Rest Camp! That's where we did our PC pre-service training.

We didn't place in the top four, but we were just happy for the experience. Saw the Rehoboth hot spring, did a boat ride at the dam, attended some great sessions about history and saw some amazing cultural presentations - each group had to do something to show their culture on the first night.

Anyways, unlike most clubs started here, it looks like this one will be sustainable, with at least one teacher already committed to running it next year. Great news.

I did miss out on a big PC meeting up in Ondongwa that week, but it would've taken me two days just to hike up there and I was only interested in the small part pertaining to training for group 27. Just wasn't worth the investment of $$ and travel time. Besides, I would've missed out on this glorious adventure.


At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great writing. I love to hear about Tses and Keetmans and all the rest. Keep up the good work. The last months will go by very quickly. Give Pauline and Brother Ignatius my best.

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, this is what I am doing now:

If you or any other Volunteers are interested, I encourage you to apply. The online application will be up in September.


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