As my first Christmas outside the United States, it was a little weird waking up to heat and sand instead of snow and cold. But after a few hours I got used to it and made it one of the best Christmases I've ever had.
It began with Mass at the Catholic Church in my village. Since I live at the Mission, I've been going to Mass every week--it's a great way to get to know the people in my community and practice my Rukwangali listening skills. Mass was extraordinary, and the church was packed with standing room only. Luckily, I spotted my English Subject Head and her boyfriend, and snagged an open seat next to them.
I loved seeing the manger adorned with lights and listening to the choir. Fun fact: the tunes to Christmas Carols is the same across the globe! Even though I didn't know the Rukwangali version, I was able to sing along to "Silent Night" and "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."
Afterwards, while on my daily walk around my community, I ran into a group of boys playing soccer. They invited me to play with them, which was incredible. It wasn't until about 3 minutes into the game that I remembered how terrible at soccer (and how out of shape) I was. My New Years Resolution is to be more active, that's for sure.
After losing miserably at soccer, I made my way to a Christmas party in the village. Together with some of the teachers at my school, we danced and ate and chatted for hours. I was so grateful to be included. I spent a good deal of time being interviewed by various people in my community about the United States. From questions about life in cities across the US, to more politically charged topics, I did my best to represent America in a truthful and positive light while respecting different opinions.
A few minutes later my new neighbors arrived. They had both been volunteers in my village in the 1990s; one was a volunteer from the Netherlands who worked at the clinic for almost 8 years, and the other was a volunteer from Switzerland who worked at my school for three years. It was nice to chat with them about changes they saw in the community over the years. We bonded over the course of the week, and they shared some incredible advice from their experiences here.
While I was settling in for what I assumed was going to be a rather low-key New Years, my new friends came over and invited me to a goat slaughter & Bar-B-Que down the road. We left at 9ish and sat at a table outdoors under the moon and stars. The first course was goat liver, followed by fresh caught fish and running (free range) chicken. Then came the main course--the goat. We laughed and talked and ate well into the new year.
This had to have been one of the best Christmas & New Years I've had in a while. IT's hard to believe that exactly one year ago--December 31, 2016--I submitted my Peace Corps application. It's been a whirlwind year, but I'm so grateful for everything that happened. I can't wait to make the most of 2018!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are mine, and do not represent any position taken by the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.
Hi I'm Drew!
I'm currently a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English in the Kavango West Region of Northern Namibia.
Please note: The contents of this blog are mine, and do not represent any position taken by the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government