Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Birthday, Valentines and weekend guests

The week started out with my birthday, which always seems spring up on me because of the J-term timing at PLU.  Even though we weren’t officially involved in a J-term program, the 10th once again came quickly.  It was easy for me to remember the start of UNAM's semester!   I attended the opening ceremony on the Khomasdal campus the morning of February 10.  Trudie (my grant writing colleague) picked me up and I was genuinely surprised that she brought me a gift of Chanel bath oil.  What a fun start to the day.  At the opening session there was a motivational speaker who had been at the university and survived two cancer battles, and he attributes that to faith and a positive attitude.  He was a great speaker so that was fun.  I was struck by the first half hour of the program though.  The Khomasdal chapter of Crusaders for Christ started off the program.  The student leading things was probably a 4th year student and spoke to the students about finding Christ and letting Him guide you during difficult times.  The faculty advisor spoke about finding Christ, and a second or third year student gave a testimony about how his life changed once he found Christ.  Although I am more accustomed to integration of religion and school here in Namibia, I still find it fascinating that the Crusaders for Christ have the first 30 minutes of a 5 day orientation schedule for first year students.  The message is positive and supportive and has an explicit emphasis on Jesus Christ.    I think because of our clear separation of church and state, I will never be totally comfortable with this emphasis.  I realize that is a Western Perspective that will be difficult for me to lose. 

Campus Crusaders for Christ opening

Dr. Botes, Motivational Speaker with student moderator behind

After an afternoon of making sure I finished a blog entry, Lindsey, Tony and I went out to dinner at a restaurant called O’Portuga.  Tony’s entrée of Norwegian Salmon was outstanding.  Lindsey and I shared steak and shrimp and we were a bit envious of Tony’s choice, but he shared.  While we waited for dinner and enjoyed a glass of South African  wine, Tony and Lindsey gave me some hand painted dishes we had seen on one of excursions to town.  They had done some shopping while I was at school.  Lindsey had baked me a cake with chocolate icing  so we didn’t need dessert at the restaurant. 
A match was my candle--great improvisation

My new fruit bowl that I enjoy daily
 When we got home Lindsey received an email that was the best ending to my birthday. She heard that UNAIDS had accepted her for an internship in their office.  On Thursday of the previous week, she had met with the Director of UNFPA (UN Population Fund) to talk about the possibility of an internship with a UN organization.  Grace talked to her about a possibility with UNAIDS and Lindsey was expecting to meeting with the director, not being offered an internship position.  We all were so excited and know she will gain lots of experience, plus she will be involved in a variety of interesting projects.  Her supervisor is from Palo Alto and went to a rival high school and when Lindsey met her on Thursday talked about her energy and interesting background, so I am sure it will be an interesting year.

I was glad to be able to schedule a meeting with my Dean (Charmaine) to talk about delving into the New Teacher project.  Charmaine was able to give me a lot more information about the different players. NIED (National Institute of Educational Development) has developed a program, but the University doesn’t know much about the program.  NIED is a branch of the Ministry of Education and it was the Ministry as part of their charge related to education policy by the end of 2014, included the need to have a national program for new teachers.  I was trying to figure out the University’s role in fulfilling the Educational Policy charge and Charmaine as dean, is part of a group of educators that are associated with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders.  So our plan was that Charmaine would write an introductory letter on my behalf to all those involved in new teacher development.  I have followed up with my own email and are still waiting to hear back.  I will follow up with phone calls in the middle of the week. 
On Wednesday I had an absolutely wonderful meeting with  the person who has been my Fulbright contact in Namibia and is a Senior Program Officer at the American Cultural Center.  We had a couple of business issues to discuss and then the rest of our 90 minute lunch was talking about issues related to Namibia.  He was one of the 100 Namibians who was sponsored by the Lutheran Church and educated at US universities.  I know Edwin and Louise graduated from PLU and see them regularly when I am in Namibia.  I hadn't met another Lutheran Church sponsored US educated so it was fun to chat with him about his experiences at a rival California Lutheran School.  For him it was an experience that allowed him to really understand himself and persevere. We also talked about racial issues in Namibia and although there has been a lot of progress since independence, there are still racial issues that impact Black Namibians.  These are still difficult issues to talk about in Namibia. I compare that to our country—finally we enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1963, so our country still had separate laws and standards based on skin color for a long time after the Civil War, and there are areas, especially with regards to education, access and achievement and poverty in the US where skin color plays a significant role. 
Valentines Day is a big deal in Namibia.  Someone explained that Namibia has taken holidays from America and then create their own expanded version of the holiday.  In the schools that means that it is a casual dress day for students—the have to pay N$5.00 (45 cents at current exchange rate) to not be in uniform.  So far I haven’t been able to ascertain how that money is used—hopefully something that benefits the kids.  For us, it was a quiet morning and resting up was important because the Tjiramba kids (9,9.5 and 11) were arriving at 2:00 (that will be a separate entry).  We were invited to a Valentines’ Day Braai at Priscilla’s house—she was hosting an event for the 3 Fulbrighters (2 on  student awards and me) and then people from the Embassy.  She and her husband, both directors of different areas for the Embassy have a great house on the other side of Windhoek.  Apparently they don’t have a choice of housing if they work at the Embassy but I imagine the selection of homes varies and are dependent on timing (what’s available) and ranking.  Priscilla has a flair for decorating and she has a variety of artifacts from her different postings. I know she and her husband are happy with the house and location.  Anyway, Priscilla had two Namibian cooks preparing meat for the Braai and one of her colleagues commented she had already become a Namibian because of the number of different meats being prepared (2 kinds of beef, lamb, pork ribs, ostrich, and chicken).  Additionally there were additional US flavors like grilled mushrooms, beans, tortillas, a Greek salad and other choices.  When I saw the spread on two tables I wondered a bit about my First Friday, but then know Lindsey and I are preparing food on our own for a different crowd. 

Ready for the evening Braai

            Lindsey believes I am too indulging with my Namibian “nieces and nephew” and I probably am, but by the end of the weekend I was good at saying “no” to continuous treats, loud volume on the TV, and screen time.  We played lots of games together, did Valentines arts and craft, did the short hike at Daan Viljoen and managed to finish weekend homework. The kids were great and we stayed busy with  hiking, walking to the store, card games, homework and Bananagrams.

The Weekend with
Dolly, Uterera and Jejamaiye

Dolly, posing for the camera
Yeah, made it to the top!
Jejamaiye with Cleo

Early riser and independent

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