Food Fast Solidarity Panel tonight 5 pm in the Yehl Ballroom at Gannon University

Food Fast Solidarity Panel tonight 5 pm in the Yehl Ballroom at Gannon University.

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Have A Little Hope: The Last Post.

Monday 6/25—

This week is the last week at my internship, so I am quite sad to be leaving all of the kids. Today is my last day specifically with the younger class, and I am missing them already. For my lesson today I thought we would do some creative math. I had the kids trace their hands onto a piece of white computer paper, and then label the fingers 1-5.

They all loved coloring, which is what the majority of them did at first because my directions in English were not making sense to them. Once the other pre schoolteacher translated the directions in Oshywambo, the kids were on the ball! Watching their faces light up when they were done tracing their little hands and saw that their hand was then on the page was absolutely priceless! One little boy Isaac, actually flipped the paper over and repeated the process all over again. I would also like to mention that Isaac has a younger brother in this class as well, and when Jacob, the little brother who is actually 3 years old, was having trouble tracing and holding the pencil, Isaac came over and helped him.

These two little boys have been on my radar since I started at HISA for two reasons: 1. They have not worn shoes once to HISA and have the exact same, ripped shirt and torn pants that they wear everyday and 2. They never have a snack that they bring with them like the other kids. This is clearly very sad, them not having a snack like the others, but when you just sit back and watch them eat at snack time, there are always kids that rip their bread in half and give some to Isaac and Jacob! The fact that these kids at such a young age understand how to share something as precious as food when I know they all struggle, just because they realize someone else has it worse, is heartwarming and wrenching. Although I hate to see Isaac and Jacob sit there and look around waiting for someone to share their snack, when you see the food handed over to them and the smile those children exchange when they form that unspoken bond is inspiring. I will admit, I started bringing two apples in my bag everyday just incase the other children didn’t share, but I didn’t always give the apples to Jacob and Isaac. Sometimes it would go to a more quiet child, or someone in the older remedial class that you knew didn’t have much just from talking with the other kids, or sometimes to a child in the afternoon that came back after school was over who wasn’t going to be fed another meal that day. I have never realized the value of food until this experience in my life. I have been doing a lot of reflecting this past week, what with my internship and Social Development and Change class ending, and I am so thankful for this experience and what I am taking away. I know that I will only continue to take more away from this as time goes on and I have contemplated about this all more….for example, my afternoon at HISA today.

This afternoon at HISA, I went out with two of the peer promoters (staff) again for the Outreach Program into the informal settlements surrounding HISA. Although the Monday before it was very depressing and put me into a funk, this time I was taking a different view on it. Accepting now that I cannot possibly save all of these people and being upset about it doesn’t really do me a lot of good, I decided to just observe and think about what I was actually seeing. I decided to take my camera along and document some of the time out in the settlements. I have about 40 minutes of different videos from us talking to different people about their living situations and looking into their houses. I not only want to remember what I saw, but I want other people to see it too.

If everyone that saw the videos I took today donated even just one blanket to some of these people, it could save a life. One woman told Ndeshi, my co worker that I was out with, that her daughter died because she was sick and they didn’t have any blankets in the house, so she continued to just get more sick and there was nothing the mother could do. We also met one man who lived by himself in a shack that was practically falling down. I did almost cry when we looked at that (which is in the video and a bit embarrassing), but my co worker and I had a lengthy discussion as we walked back to the center after that. We spent over two hours just walking around talking to people in the settlements. I was yelled at twice, had to hide my camera, almost cried, saw some drunk people (at Noon on a Monday), saw someone just openly smoking a joint, and watched one mother beat her child. But I also saw kids playing, and some loving mothers, and dad’s playing with their children. Although this is all so overwhelming to witness in the moment, after the fact, this is all an experience that will impact my life for the rest of my life. I can’t take back the things that I have witnessed; I am just going to have to learn how to take away positive things from this experience.

Tuesday 6/26—

Today was our last development class! We went and had a tour at Penduka, a women’s and disabled craft center that teaches people how to make certain crafts (quilts, clothes, glass blowing, etc) and sell them. After our 30 minute tour and meeting some of the workers (most of which are disabled or handicapped in one way or another), we sat outside and started our last class discussion about development. Our professor, Linda, had us read a famous speak by Dr. MLK Jr. from 1961 about the Vietnam War, one of his more controversial speeches. We discussed things like race, class, color, discrimination, and equality. It was one of our more philosophical, but revealing discussions. It wasn’t based off of text book readings and there wasn’t going to be a quiz at the end to measure our success. We got out of the conversation what we put in. We made the connection between our studies in American and one or more themes in development. We thought critically about what this is going to do for our future, or what we want our future to be. And then we had a discussion on hope. What is hope, do we have hope, especially after learning all of these depressing things about how the world is so underdeveloped. When you read about the majority of the population living in poverty it is one thing, when you go out and see poverty at its worst, it is another. We all said whether or not we had hope in the greater good, and why. Why believe that people do good and not evil? Why think that things can change when they have stayed the same for the last however many years? My answer: because you have to, or else you have nothing to live for. You have to believe in hope. In my opinion, hope can be a lot of different things, depicted in a lot of different fashions. I had the only internship placement in the actual informal settlements, so I really got to spend the most time in the worst places, being subjected to all of their depression. And at first, I will admit that my spirit was crushed. I was upset by the whole experience and I thought maybe this was going to just be one big mistake, however, then I started to realize the little things at my internship. For example, the smile that comes across a child’s face when they just traced their hand for the first time. To me, that is hope. Watching the kids run around and play at recess, laughing and just having fun, to me, that is hope. If you don’t have hope, then you have nothing.

Later that afternoon we had our internship class and we discussed the loads of assignments, papers, presentations, and projects that are due by this upcoming Tuesday. It is crazy to think that this whole experience is almost over. I am just starting to scratch the surface here and want to continue to chip away at the thoughts provoked by my short time here.

Wednesday 6/27—

My last official day with the children is today, and I am not ready to say goodbye. I don’t have to teach a formal lesson today to the older group, because I am spending my allotted time with the kids taking pictures and playing outside. I did assist the teacher, Monica, with her lesson of having the kids write their name. Now, keep in mind that all of the children in this older class are typically 6, so of them are 7, and the majority of them do not know how to write their own name! I actually needed a class roster myself when I went around to help the children one on one because I didn’t want to teach them how to spell their name wrong. For some reason, when I hear the name, “Mabuku,” I just wouldn’t think it was spelled: “Mabuokuio.” I do have to say that some of the kids do not go by their traditional, tribal names, and have what Monica described as school names. For example, Matthew’s real name is not Mathew. It is something that I still cannot even pronounce, so Matthew works just fine. When caretakers put the kids in HISA, they just pick a westernized name to make it easier for the school system. I feel like that is eventually going to create some sort of identity crisis for some of these children, but that is not a thought that I have spent too much time pondering just yet. Now back to the most important part of my day- I taught Matthew how to spell his name today. I had to write the letters for him at the top of the page, then had him repeat them back to me aloud in English, and then had him write them. For some reason, his “a” was an “o,” and his “t” was an “i,” and the “w” was an “m,” and I don’t even think the “e” was another letter in the alphabet. Although he was frustrated at first that I kept making him rewrite the letters, when he finally wrote his name correctly, he looked at me, smiled the biggest smile, and then threw his little 6 year old arms around my neck and gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was the greatest feeling in the world to have him succeed at something that he really wanted. I told him that I was so proud of him and just hugged him right back,  and his excitement was just contagious. I was so happy for him that I was a little choked up. After all of the time I have spent at HISA, this was the first time that I really felt like I taught someone something that they remembered and were receptive to. It was my, “AHA,” moment. Something as simple as Matthew writing his name was the greatest success of my day. I also gave all of the kids a lollipop and played soccer with them for the last time at recess.

My afternoon was spent in meetings helping the founder’s write the European Union Grant and forming the “safety net” concept. Go figure- me getting myself into a meeting. The last little bit of my day was spent with the youth helping them with their drama about children’s rights. I was alone because the other teachers were still in the meeting, so I broke them up into 4 smaller groups, assigned them a right, and then told them to make a skit to perform in front of the others before we left. All 4 groups completed the tasks and the skits were amazing. They were funny, the kids were outgoing, and they were all educational and advocating a child’s rights. I had a very successful day.

Thursday 6/28—

My last day at HISA is today. I am teaching the adult literacy class, both English and Math. I did an English lesson that entailed the adults reading a passage from a book I found in the office (Spiderman) and then picking ten words for us to define. For math, we did some addition and subtraction, but spent the majority of our time on multiplication and division. I did release myself early so that I could serve one last lunch to the younger kids out of the soup kitchen. I also stood outside of the classroom after lunch and hugged or high fived every child good bye. It was bitter sweet. Those kids taught me a lot in the last 5 weeks. Probably more than I taught them to be completely honest. I just had a great last day and a lot of good discussions with my staff members that I am also really sad to leave. One notable thing to mention is that one staff asked me if we have cows in America…. He was shocked when I told him we do have cows. He was also appalled that we don’t have tribes, and that Obama is the president of the whole country and not just a portion. It was a funny and enlightening conversation. My time at HISA is sadly over, but my relationship with them is not.

Friday 6/29—

This morning we did not have our typical development class. Instead, we had an internship seminar and had a panel of 4 Americans who live in Namibia come and talk to us about their lives and how they got where they are. There was a man from Cleveland that had dreads longer than any African I have seen yet, who has lived all over Africa for the past 20 years of so. He works at a local NGO doing all of their documentation and some research. The next person was a woman who is from California, and has lived in Africa for more than 20 years and actually met her husband in the neighboring country of Botswana and they now own a very successful consulting company. The next man hasn’t been living here for more than 2 years, but has lived in different countries all over the world. He currently is the Director of the Center for Disease Control-Namibia. The last woman was from up state New York and has been living in Namibia for 7 years, lived in Bangledesh for a year, and El Salvador for 10 years. She actually was a resident in El Salvador and played on the National Women’s soccer team there! And started the first girls soccer team that led to that national program. Mary Beth is kind of a big deal here in Namibia and is Ryan’s internship supervisor. Needless to say, they all had great adventures and crazy lives that were inspiring. We have the afternoon off, the weekend off, and Monday off. Tuesday we have our final presentations and farewells, and then Wednesday is the 4th of July.

I am not sure that I will blog again while I am here in Namibia because I need to finish all of my schoolwork and then I would like to just relax and enjoy my last week here. After next Wednesday we are going to Etosha and camping in the north. When we leave Thursday morning, I will not have access to the Internet again until I am back in the United States. I fly out next Sunday and will be home sometime late on Monday. If you followed my blog throughout my trip, thank you for reading. Wish me some safe travels and I can’t wait to tell you more about my experience in person once I get home.

For my last word of advice, I have only one thing to say: If you ever have the chance to visit Namibia, go. It is an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks,

Lexie

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Week 4: A Bad Day and a Trip to the Coast

Monday 6/18—

I was with the younger class today at HISA. It was a pretty routine day from 8am-12:30pm when the kids left. After that I went out into the community with two of the other teachers at HISA. HISA has a Community Outreach Program where all 11 staff members are assigned in pairs to different areas of the informal settlements to go out and tell them about the importance of things like birth certificates and human rights. Well, on today’s community outreach, we went out in search of the poorest of the poor. We were attempting to log who needs the donations that we have so that we can distribute to the people most in need and it was heart breaking. I talked to lots of people and heard their stories, but the worst was the last family. Their 5 kids are not in school. There are four adults in additions to those kids living in a house that is less than a 10 x 10’ with a ceiling that I even had to duck to stand beneath (less than 5’). They all sleep there, have all of their possessions there, and just have nothing. They were boiling grass to eat when we were there. The conditions were so bad that the woman I was with from the center started crying when we walked away- and she lives in the chanti town and knows the lifestyle here. We took my supervisor back for her to see it herself…when we got back from seeing it the second time, I went into the bathroom and cried. It was just one of those days.

This is the whole inside of a house. Not the house that was mentioned- this house is surprisingly nicer. I just want to point out that the things in this picture are the only things this woman owns.

When I got home from my internship, I went on a run and was gone for over an hour just being out around Windhoek by myself with just my iPod blaring. I went to yoga tonight too. My professor, Linda Raven, just so happens to also be a yoga instructor- and a very stress relieving instructor! This was an eye opening, bad day.

Tuesday 6/19—

Class this morning was centered around Food Security. We read some interesting articles about organic vs commercial groceries, how famine in Africa could be prevented, and how food influences development. After our class with Linda, we went and visited an organic farm where the farmer, Albert, showed us how he feeds 100 people a month with his urban gardening methods. He does a lot of organic farming practices, like making his own fertilizer, but also believes in the use of non organic farming practices as well. His garden was quite interesting, but what was more interesting is the fact that he has showed 800 people how to start their own gardens like his! If those 800 people were to start gardens that could feed 100 people, we would have lower population of starving people in this world. One statistic that I learned from class today was that 15,000 people die everyday related to hunger. To me, when we have so much readily available food in the world, why have so many starving people? Or people that are dying or starvation? Another million dollar question that I can take away from this experience to contemplate back in the U.S.

The Urban Organic Garden

That afternoon we have our internship class with Nespect and had a guest speaker talk to us about Grant Writing! I am currently helping HISA with a grant proposal that is due July 1 for some funding to help with the feeding program, among other operational costs.

Wednesday 6/20—

I did a lesson with the 6 year old class today about animals. I had them all draw their favorite animals and then make the sounds- clearly very entertaining for us both! Haha. This day was just another day at work, nothing too crazy to report on.

Thursday 6/21- Sunday 6/24—

Swakopmund, here we come! We are going out of town for the next few days to study education on the coast and see what Swakop is like! On our 3.5-4 hour drive, we stopped at the Namibia Institute for Mining and Technology and met with one of the administrators there to learn all about the vocational school they have. We also visited the Mundessa Youth after school program for the smartest children in the depressed area of Mundessa that is in Swakop. Each child there is sponsored by someone who pays N10,000 dollars a year for them. They get day trips, over nights, math, English, music, and computer skills. That night we went to restaurant on the pier where the floor had some Plexiglas for us to look as the Atlantic Ocean while we dinned! It was beautiful.

The next day we visited a Montessori that also has a component to it where they train other Montessori teachers within a 3-5 year time period where they actually receive a college degree. It was a low residency program that was very interesting to learn about. I also want to make mention of the fact that this Montessori had children the same ages as my kids at HISA, however, they had so many more opportunities and resources. They all had ipads….

We also went to another vocational school where a woman with just two staff members, would teach 10 women skills like sewing, catering, and business skills. We also went to the shop where the students (adults) sell their materials. Other graduates from her school sell their own materials there as well. We met one man who is done with his vocational schooling, and now makes a lot of wedding, traditional garments!

The student in his designed wedding suit

We also went to a kindergarten that the vocational school teaching women used to teach her sewing out of- a very efficient space if I do say so myself! That evening, we climbed to the top of Dune 7.

Dune 7

After sweating and working hard to get to the top, we had an amazing chance to take some photos! All of mine just so happen to be on my disposable, as recommended, so I didn’t get sand in my digital. I will have to post those pictures once I am back in the US and get them developed! I do have to say, I was covered in sand head to toe for sure! That night we went to the only Mexican restaurant in Namibia! I had a much-needed chicken quesadilla! I miss our ‘American’ food…as in, our variety of foods from all over the world! The next day we went horse riding and I had a near death experience. I was riding the only all white horse, and of course, while we were trotting, Al Capone (horses’ name) decided he wanted to get a little crazy. So, we took off at a full blown sprint or gallop, through the sandy desert, over the mountains. I can’t remember the last time I was that scared. I held on for dear life, so badly that the saddle actually rubbed the skin off of my right hand :( When the guide finally caught up to me, once I had stopped my horse, he said he couldn’t believe I had survived that, what with being an inexperienced rider. So, needless to say, I will never get on a horse again. Although it was a liberating experience, I will not be getting back up on the horse that almost bucked me off and took me for a ride to Hell and back! Yikes!

Al Capone and his friends

I was so shaken up all day. I am just glad I survived and didn’t end up in the hospital. And to think, I almost went skydiving instead….probably would have been safer! hahaha. Sunday was uneventful. We traveled back to Windhoek, I read a lot on the trip, and then worked on some homework when we got home. I am looking forward to starting my last week at my internship! There is still a lot to be done.

Thanks for reading along with my trip!

Thanks, Lexie

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Happy Father’s Day

I just want to dedicate one full post, complete with picture, to my father, 2nd Shift Ray. Happy Father’s Day, Padre <3

Happy Father’s Day! I miss and love my family! Tell Nick and Fifi I said hello :)

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Week 3: Gender and Development, Coupled with Foreign Investment/Aid

Tuesday 6/12–

I just want to start out by saying I am sorry I have been so belated in my blogging. I have been extremely busy lately! Not to worry, I journal and keep my own notes so that my blog will not be lacking.

The theme for class today was Gender and Development. After discussing feminism in the morning as a class, along with the roles of women, we went to a local NGO, Sister Namibia. Sister Namibia publishes four magazines a year and does community outreach all over the country of Namibia. They helped to get the first woman elected to office in the Namibian Parliament by explaining to people in rural areas why it is important to have both sexes recognized in leadership roles. Also, Sister Namibia can be found online at: http://www.sisternamibia.org/

They had a lot of great things to say, and I know I plan on subscribing to their magazine. After lunch, we had an urban homestay reflection with our internship adviser Nespect, and Sara, our homestay coordinator.

Wednesday 6/13–

Today I was with the 6 year old class and did the following lesson: (taken from my lesson plans)

Lesson Plan: Family and Home

Target Age Group: 6 years old

Time allotted: 45 minutes-1 hour

Materials:

  • White computer paper
  • Colored pencils

Learning Objectives:

  • Teach children the different members of the family (father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, cousins, grandparents, family friends)
  • Teach children how to draw a home

Chronological plan for lesson:

  • Explain to children the assignment (to draw their house and the people that live in it)
  • Pass out materials
  • Help explain to children having trouble during drawing time period on an individual basis
  • When children hand in drawing, have them explain who each person is in the home

Observations:

  • Children had trouble at first understanding the directions
  • Some children didn’t draw some people in their family, this was only noticed after asking each child who lived in their home
  • Most houses were drawn as squares and rectangles, much like the informal unsettlement housing structures of Katatura, compared to the stereotypical A-frame American home

Assessment:

  • All children completed the drawing and took home to family
  • Full time teacher of class received feedback from some members of the community where the children live that the drawings were nice to have at home

Thursday 6/14–

Today I was with the Adult Learners and did this lesson from the lesson plans:

Lesson Plan: Family Adult Literacy, Math

Target Age Group: 20-50 years old

Time allotted: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Materials:

  • Notebook paper
  • Pencils
  • Chalkboard and chalk

Learning Objectives:

  • Teach adult learners basic math skills
  • Teach adult learners different operations of math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division

Chronological plan for lesson:

  • Write one example of each operation of math on the board and talk them through the steps
  • Have adult learners write down the examples and the work
  • Assign a set of four problems for both subtraction and addition for all learners to do on their own in class
  • Go over as a class aloud for the answers to the eight problems
  • Assign a set of four problems for both multiplication and division for all learners to do on their own in class
  • Go over as a class aloud for the answers to the eight problems
  • Assign a set of twelve problems, four of each operation, to be completed for correctness for homework. To be checked in one week.

Observations:

  • Majority of adults had trouble understanding directions, so had to have someone translate
  • Adult learners write very slowly
  • Adult learners have a hard time differentiating between the addition and subtraction sign
  • Majority of adult learners know how to do basic subtraction and addition, but not the higher operations of multiplication and division

Assessment:

  • When checked the homework the following week, the adult learners that got some right, typically got them all right, with the exception of division
  • The adult learners that struggled in class had a lot of incorrect answers in both multiplication and division
  • Most people got the addition and subtraction correct
  • All incorrect problems were reassigned with different numbers to be done for the following week

Later that afternoon, The New Era newspaper here in Windhoek brought HISA some apples. Apparently, The Namibian brings apples and other donations every other week or so, which is something I have witnessed, so the New Era decided to bring Apples and take pictures so that they could publicize in their paper that they also did some good deeds. Although the politics behind the whole thing is not so good, the kids got food and that was my only concern.

Friday 6/15–

Today’s class was spent discussing Foreign Investment and Aid. We discussed the rise of postcolonial states as donors being a challenge, dead aid and how it is not working, and an interesting article from the Namibian Newspaper. After our class, Linda, our professor, took us to the USAID, Namibia. We spoke with the Program Director, one of five americans at this office of about 30. She is retiring next year, so she told us about the many countries she lived in serving the US Gov’t as USAID and what USAID does for people here in Namibia. Their Policy Framework for 2011-2015 has 7 core development objectives, for example, number one is to increase food security (which is something else we studied here in Namibia). Another mentionable objective is number 2: Promote Global Health and Strong Health Systems: From Treating Diseases to Treating People. We talked a lot about HIV/AIDS and how USAID helps aid Namibia in combating the disease. They have given Namibia 100 million dollars just to help with health services to prevent the future spread of HIV, and the current availability of ARV drugs to current HIV positive people here. In Namibia, 15% of the population is known to be infected with this disease.  Our conversation was very educational, and I would love to discuss it more if anyone has any questions.

After lunch we went to the only recycling plant in Namibia, Rent-A-Drum.

 

This family business started in South Africa, where there are now four branches, and Namibia is the only other sub sahara country in Africa that has this waste management system of recycling. Although is is not readily available throughout the whole country, the capital has access to it, and that is where the majority of the population lies for now. The waste management system is done by people that pick out the 11 different materials that they recycle by hand. They actually let us walk into the factory side of things and go right up the stairs and stand in the line. We also got to take out some frustration and throw a few glass bottles at the wall.

Saturday 6/16—

Today we went to a Namibian National soccer game as a full crew! We went and saw a qualifier for the African World Cup: Namibia vs. Liberia. The game was  a nail bitter, but ended in a tie, 0-0.

I do have to give it up to the Namibian fans- they have hearts that bleed green, blue, and red! It brings me back to my maroon and gold pride, hmm….I miss Gannon.

Sunday 6/17—

Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s out there. I know that today the only thing I did was homework, reading, worked on a few projects, and most importantly- skyped my father! I want to give my dad, Second Shift Ray, a shout: I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day (again), can’t wait to come home and take you to Suzie Q’s for our belated Father’s Day celebration.

 

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by my 6 year old class

click this link and https://plus.google.com/u/0/102179428056721900089/videos 

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June 14, 2012 · 7:26 pm