Friday, May 24, 2013

Odibo Life

News in about Odibo CS:  Today, Friday, was my first day to actually go to school.  Since they hadn’t provided me with a timetable yet, I spent the first half of the day with Mrs. Olga getting situated.  I am officially teaching grade 9A and 9B English.  That is 95 students.  52 in one class and 43 in the other.  Yikes!  On top of that, I will be teaching BIS for 7B, 8A, 8B, 8C, 9A, 9B, 10A, and 10 B.  That brings me to 21 periods a week, which is not drastically less than last term, but drastic enough that I can breathe and prepare and focus on my new students.  Although I didn’t teach today, I was able to meet with 9A and briefly with 9B.  So far, 9B seems scared, but 9A I can tell will be fun.  We went over classroom rules, which consisted of them telling me what they thought was important.  Then we narrowed those down to 5.  I also explained some things I will be setting up in the classroom.

In addition to that information, I learned that Odibo CS has 848 students!  Holy moly.  Luckily, we have 31 teachers to accommodate that high number.  Side note: I also learned that my principal’s daughter went to university in America and is currently getting her PhD in Canada.  What an inspiration to all of the students in the village.  After school ended, I stayed a bit working on lesson plans and talking with new teachers.  I can already see some friendships forming.  People have been very sweet and very helpful, so that’s been a blessing.  I even have teachers that drive to Ondangwa and Oshakati frequently!

This weekend I am staying in the village though.  I will quickly go to town tomorrow to buy groceries, but for the rest of the weekend, I will focus on doing laundry, reading, and watching too much Hot in Cleveland (awesome show).  Although village life can be a hard adjustment after a month of traveling, I think it will do me good to spend a couple weekends here getting acclimated.

I will keep y’all posted as often as possible on happenings in Odibo.  I am still trying to decide if I have the time and energy to tackle a school project, but that is not my main focus at this time.  As for my parents, they are halfway home to America.  My sister and Mark are also flying to LA, so everyone closest to me is somewhere in the air.  Pray for their safety and their pilots.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Growing Change

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” 
― Leo Tolstoy

With every new school, new city, new country that I have moved to, I always face the same issues of change.  I am a person that strongly believes in change.   I believe it does a body and soul good to uproot yourself and try different things.  Things that are not always easy.  Not always fun.  Not always rewarding.  I believe that in the end, these changes are worthwhile, and sometimes they aren't as difficult as you believe they may be.  However, it is always hard for me to initiate these changes.  I know what to do, I know the outcomes and the happiness I feel when I push myself to do something that is different for me and new, but this evil spirit has a way of always telling me to stay put, to stay safe and comfortable.  The thing is though, I did not sign up for comfortable.  Yes, sometimes it is allowed, but never in my life do I want to avoid doing something because it may lead to me being uncomfortable.

With these insane ramblings finished, I want to give one last update on Oshikango stuff and my new village.  I am not sure what my Internet ability will be like for the rest of this year, but I'm assuming that I can at least come to this lodge every so often and pay for wifi.

Yesterday, I arrived in Oshikango.  It is night and day when you compare it to Opuwo.  Opuwo is nice because it is slow paced and small, but Oshikango has the hustle and bustle of life that I love after so many months of seclusion.  I can feel the people living around me.  The open markets are inviting me in, and I am eager to explore them on the weekends.  Already I can see a difference between the different Namibian tribes.  The Oshiwambos have this openness, these caring hearts.  Let me prove that to you with a quick story....
Yesterday when we arrived, my parents and I drove out to Odibo to meet my principal and see the school.  It is only about 5k from Oshikango, and the whole way there, you are surrounded by actual village life.  Food stands, people sitting outside, bars, etc.  (EEK!  My heart is happy.)  As we arrive at the school, after going past a missional school/guesthouse that I will be staying in for the rest of the week, I am greeted by Mrs. Olga, my principal.  She sweetly tells my mother how young she is and that she wasn't sure which one of us was the volunteer.  Oh my mom's heart was happy after that haha.  From there, she showed us the school.  It is much nicer than OCS #1 and she told me that she was not sure what I would be teaching, but that she really wants me to start a club.  My current club thoughts are something geography related or career based so that the students know what all they can achieve to be.  After seeing the school, we followed my principal out of the village and back into town.  She took us to the grocery store and sweetly bought my parents all kinds of cool drinks and bananas for their long drive back to Opuwo.  She wanted to make sure that they were taken care of, and informed them that she would keep an eye on their daughter.  Last night around 7, she called me to wish me a good sleep and safety.  Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

So if this is not an indication of what term 2 and 3 will look like, I am not sure what is, but she is making me feel safe and welcomed already, which is all I can ask for.  Now to push through those nasty voices that tell me to stay inside, not to socialize, and to stay comfortable!!  I ask for your prayers during these new changes.  I ask that you pray for my strength to change myself and to put myself in situations that are not always warm and fuzzy.

All my love,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Here are the SAFARI pictures for all of you non-facebookers out there in the world.  For my preschool mommies, please share with the kiddos and let them know I miss them dearly.

Etosha National Park

Safari with the Parents

Saying goodbye to OCS #1

***Since I will not get to properly say goodbye to my first students, I wrote this letter that will hopefully reach some of them one day.  I am hoping to leave it with a fellow teacher via email, or a student, but in case that does not work, the internet seems like the best spot for them to know how I feel.***

Dear students at Otjerunda CS,

I am saddened to say goodbye to you, and although we had our ups and downs and difficulties understanding one another, I want you to know that never did I leave because of you. Your smiling faces and eagerness to know me, although sometimes exhausting, has kept me going. Kept me alive during these hard times.

My boys, you have worked so hard for me and you all have so much potential. Your eagerness has captivated my heart and although many of you are my age and older, I see you as my sweet babies. I pray and hope that you see all of the opportunities that await you in this big, big world. 

My girls, you have made me laugh and taken care of me as I have struggled with the roles of a Namibian woman. For each girl who has washed my clothes, played with my hair, and giggled with me, thank you for those sweet memories. Thank you for your kind hearts. 

For every student I have ever seen in town, thank you for making me feel like royalty and a million bucks. Weekends were always hard for me, but when you did not shy away from me, but rather proudly waved to me or stopped to talk to me with your friends or parents, you rocked my world and reminded me why I moved across the world to teach. 

I have felt so blessed to be your teacher, and although I am leaving, I will never forget your smiling faces, your sassy attitudes, our jokes and laughs together, and all that you taught me. 

Grade 5- continue to fight through the struggles of the difficulties of learning English. You will make it! You all have that potential. Every single one of you. 

Grade 6- my sweet, sweet kiddos,  only a little bit of time spent together, but you provided me with one of my greatest memories, and I am blessed that I got to teach you English for twenty days. 

Grade 7- ups and downs, but still so worth it. Our struggles, our not so fighting fights, you all have so much potential (education, sports, music) and have stolen my heart. 

Grade 8a- always ready to try something new and honest with your opinions. You helped teach me how to teach. You let me know when things did not work and I am grateful. 

Grade 8b- my sweet babies, and secretly, my favorite class. You guys changed my life. You provided me with laughs, challenges, and I have so enjoyed watching y'all grow. Your hearts, they are beautiful and big. Your minds, they are eager and determined. To call you my first students is an honor I am not worthy of. 

Grade 9- as you did not know me as well, I did not know you, but I am so grateful for your listening ears and questioning minds. You are good role models for these younger students, so continue the fight and persevere. 

All of my love,
Ms. Mac

P.S. be gentle and kind to your new teacher. He or she will face challenges and you will have days when you do not get along, but remember they love you and are on your side! If you have any English questions in the year, feel free to contact me. 

SMS: 0812119752

A new school. A new region. A new experience.

News just in, I am officially moving. As most of you readers know, I have faced many trials and tribulations at my school in the Kunene Region. I have loved my students and their sweet hearts immensely, but other aspects (I.e. living arrangements and others I do not feel comfortable discussing on a blog), have made these first 5 months emotionally and physically draining. With that said, I have been able to spend the past 20 days or so renewing my soul, my outlook, and my energy. This trip has reminded me how much I love the Namibian culture, scenery, and people. Yes, there are flaws, but aren't there always?

With that said, I will be moving to the Ohangwena region for the start of term 2. I will be right on the border of Angola and Namibia at a school called Odibo Combined School. As of right now, I am still unsure of what I will be teaching and where I will be living, but it has been mentioned that I may possibly live with the bishop or nuns. Side note: this school used to be an old church school prior to being run by the government, so the nun population is still high. Although many may see this as odd and question why I chose this school (yes, I chose it), knowing that I would be surrounded by people who love The Lord seemed too spot on to pass up. 

In addition, Odibo is about 5km from one of the main towns, which will make it easy to get groceries and any other supplies that I may need. A run to town every week? Sounds magnificent. Fortunately too, I am only about 50 minutes to an hour from my Oshana girls. Time for a plethora of Toshana parties in term 2 and 3. More details to come on the school and living though. Until then, here's a map of Oshikango (the big town). I am 5km away and practically hanging out with the Angolans! Yebbou


From where I sit the Savannas roll around me and I am greeted with a beautiful sunset sweetly painting the sky and welcoming me to another new town. Another new region. Another new terrain. This country continues to amaze me and take my breath away, and I am so upset that I spent the last weeks of term 1 being blinded to the grace God presents in this country's beauty. He gave me the opportunity to move here. He chose me to teach these children. I was chosen not just by WorldTeach, but more importantly, my Heavenly Father chose this child as worthy enough to go and love on these babies of his. I am blessed. I have been brought low for him, and although in the act it was miserable, as I sit back and take it all in, it is a beautiful gift. This pain. This suffering. This loneliness I have felt and will continue to feel. A beautiful, deep, majestic gift that I will never fully understand. Never fully grasp. All I know is that my heart is full and my life will forever be changed. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Elephants in the African Safari

Elephants have to be one of the animals that most resemble God-like characteristics. They are strong and beautiful. They move slowly with ease, each step methodically planned. And although they are huge, they appear to have huge hearts that are welcoming. Nothing about them feels threatening, yet you know they have the ability to destroy most things in site. I am just amazed by them. By their lifestyles. By their beauty. By their movements and sounds. With all of those biased thoughts shared, I feel so blessed to have seen real live elephants in their natural African habitat, exploring in their bachelor groups and others roaming around with their mothers. Enjoy some sneak peaks of the African elephants. 

Continuing my Education

On this safari, we are traveling with 5 older people from Holland. Two couples and one single lady (I can't write that without singing a little Beyonce). The trip has been educational, but even more so, I am reminded how much I love Europe, traveling, and different cultures. 

On top of that though, and this applies to Africans too, I am fascinated by all of the languages these people speak. The 5 from Holland know their native language, German, French, and English. As for our safari crew, they know their native language, different African languages, and English. These people are awesome, and in all honesty, I am jealous. I wish America took more pride in learning other languages. Yes English is most commonly spoken, but why not learn another? Why not expand your mind and your knowledge of the world? From this trip, I am promising myself to put more effort into learning another language more fluently. I know Italian, but not nearly as well as I should or would like to, and since growing up and working means that you no longer attend school, why not dedicate some time to learning a new language or improving one I've already started learning?