Thursday, December 20, 2012

Food and Emotions

With exactly one week until I leave Texas, I felt like this was a good time to address questions people have asked regarding my departure.  I've received a lot of questions along the lines of food, culture shock, and nerves/fear.  Although I cannot be certain of any of these situations prior to getting to country, I have my opinions and expectations.

As far as food, Namibia is a country that loves their meat.  And as a Texas girl, I like the way they think!  Although my allergies and dietary restrictions will be difficult, I'm hoping and planning to consume a lot of meat, vegetables (no grains), a plethora of potatoes, eggs, and fruit, fruit, fruit!  If I am able to find some of these things plus peanut butter, my year will be as easy as pie.  I am also packing as many Lara Bars that will fit in my bags.  Hint: if you ever want to send me a care package, shoot for peanut butter and Lara Bars.

When it comes to culture shock, I am a girl who has seen much of the world at a young age.  Having lived in Saudi, studied in Rome, and lived in Texas for more than 10 years, I have been exposed to different cultures and walks of life.  I find excitement and beauty in learning about others.  Whether it be their holidays/festivities, foods, or just the way they think, I believe there is so much to take away from each individual person and culture.  I honestly think that reverse culture shock is something I experience more frequently than culture shock.  Upon returning home to America, I often find myself comparing and analyzing all of the different countries I've visited.

Lastly, fear and nerves.  I would be lying if I said I was not feeling these emotions.  However, they are overshadowed by eagerness, excitement, and a little bit of sadness.  Considering I'm a girl who cries during commercials, I have surprisingly enough only allowed myself one breakdown so far, which is pretty impressive.  With that being said, last night I said my year-long goodbyes to a couple of friends.  That was difficult because it reminded me of all of the great things I will be missing out on in the upcoming year.  In 2013, three beautiful friends will marry men they love, and a godly couple who I admire and have enjoyed watching grow together, will give birth to their first baby, a beautiful little girl.  Those things are hard to think about.  Hard to fathom I won't be in Texas to watch them in all of their happiness, and be a part of the biggest days in their lives.  Now that I've brought the mood down, I must say, God has continually provided blessings and miracles throughout the beginning phases of this experience.  Whether it be through random conversations, the girls I've already met via Facebook, or prayers from y'all, I am constantly feeling the love and support from God and my family and friends!

With all of my love,

P.S. For those that have read all of the way through my last few entries, thank you.  I promise not every blog will be this long!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Final Pieces

Where should I even begin?  I have been on information overload since Wednesday, and everyone in my family has been googling and researching as much as they can about where I will be living next year.  So let me start with the general information I was given by WorldTeach....

Next year, I will be living in the Kunene Region of Namibia, Africa, where the native tongue is Otjiherero.  I will have the opportunity to teach English to 6th - 8th graders at Otjerunda Combined School.  According to my Field Director, my school is about 15 minutes South (by taxi) from Opuwo, the capital of Kunene.  In Opuwo, I will be able to find a variety of shops, take care of my needs, and do some additional exploring.  In this town, they also have a hotel, so my parents and Amanda and Mark, will try to stay there when they visit.  As for my living arrangements, I will live in shared teacher housing on school property.  We are guaranteed  water (cold) and electricity, but I'm also given a shared kitchen and bathroom.  Here's the big WOAH factor... the toilet is outside of the accommodation!  I'm not 100% sure what that means yet, but I will find out sooner than later.
Otjerunda- Where my school will be located
Now for the information I have found through some of my travel books and the ever so helpful Internet...

The Kunene Region, also known as the Kaokoland or Kaokoveld, is "a stunning and rugged region of gravel plains and rocky, terracotta-coloured semidesert."  This region can experience heavy rains, which lead to extreme flooding, but they are also well-known for their droughts.  Kunene is also known for great Safaris and the rare desert elephants, which I am beyond excited for!  As far as other amazing things to do in Kunene, there is the Skeleton Coast, Epupa Falls, and Etosha National Park.  All of which are beautiful and breathtaking, even in pictures.
A road in Kunene
The Kunene region is made up of two tribes, the Ovahimba and the Herero tribes.  The Ovahimba are a semi-nomadic group that primarily breed cattle and goats.  The women wear little clothing and cover themselves with otjize, a creamy red-brown mixture that protects their skin from the sun and keeps them fresh.  They also accessorize with ankle bracelets, that tell outsiders the number of children they have.  The men and women both wear braids, which symbolize their availability.  On the other spectrum is the Herero tribe.  They dress in elegant Victorian attire and are primarily subsistence farmers that tend to livestock.
A woman in the Ovahimba Tribe
With all of that being said, I leave for New York in about 12 days.  Packing has already started.  I've taken stuff out, I've put stuff in, I've done laundry, I've been overwhelmed with how much it seems I have. I figure whatever makes it, makes it.

If you have any additional questions regarding Kunene or my year of teaching, please contact me via this blog, Facebook, or email :)


P.S. Here's a quote that I saw at Ruggles Green.  It seems so fitting for my upcoming adventure:
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."
-Native American Proverb-