After Swearing In, real life began. The group going to Kavango West left at 7 in the morning and started our drive up to our new homes. It took a full 12 hours from where I was Sworn In for me to reach my new home (it would have been shorter but we stopped to get groceries and a few more odds and ends for our homes).
I spent the weekend cleaning the space and doing some serious rearranging. The previous owner—a volunteer that completed his service during my Community Based Training (CBT)—had a particular style that... well, was interesting to say the least. To this day I’m still working on undoing some of his styling decisions
It was so nice to finally have a moment to myself. Living with host families for 9 weeks straight, you forget the little joys in life like cooking for yourself and being able to play your music as loud as you want.
Monday was the first official work day of my service. I walked to school and hit the ground running. Right away I was pulled into a meeting about setting up a Read-a-Thon, started teaching a full load, and discussed other projects with the principal. I can tell from that first day alone that it is going to be a very busy two years.
I was teaching Grade 8 and picked up where another Peace Corps Volunteer left off. These are just a few things I've noticed during Phase II:
First, learners in Kavango are incredibly respectful to teachers—some of my fellow Volunteers have to deal with rowdiness, learners trying to get their attention by yelling “sir, sir, sir” or “madam, madam, madam,” and learners who don’t take their studies seriously. However, there is a drawback to this. Trying to get learners to participate in class is difficult. Luckily, I have some amazing resources—provided by Peace Corps—and some even better Resource Volunteers who have been through this and who are always available for consultation.
In Namibia, Grades 0-3 are taught solely in the mother tongue (in the case of my school it’s Rukwangali), with English taught as a subject. But in Grade 4 the system changes, and English becomes the language of instruction and the mother tongue is taught as a subject. Can you imagine how hard it would be for students back in the U.S. to grow up speaking one language and using it every period at school, then switching to a new language a third of the way through their academic career?
On top of that, there is a cap on repeating grades. Unlike the United States, where you repeat grades until you pass, in Namibia learners are only allowed to repeat twice. That means that learners who fail once have to take the same grade over again, but regardless of whether they pass or fail the second time, they automatically get pushed forward to the next grade.
That being said, I'm incredibly excited to begin teaching for real (yes, I know I was teaching for 6 weeks, but it wasn't my own class, so I don't count it as really teaching). I can't wait to keep you all updated on my progress in the classroom--and the progress of my other projects!
Phase II ended at the end of the third term, just as the learners were writing their exams. The final event was our Reconnect Conference—just outside of Windhoek. In years past, the Reconnect Conference wasn’t until January, but that meant that Volunteers were missing the first week of school, the last few days of preparation, and the last minute changes to the schedule. We were lucky to have ours during the month long December holiday—mainly because we didn’t miss any important events (besides my school’s End of Year party), but partly because we were able to travel immediately after our conference!
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