data Bisbocci Abroad: WorldTeach Namibia Pre-Departure Update #2

Thursday, December 13, 2012

WorldTeach Namibia Pre-Departure Update #2

        With just over two weeks until I leave for Namibia, the news I have been waiting for since March, has finally arrived!

     I had been anticipating my placement e-mail from WorldTeach for the last few days. Yet, with all that I have left to do, instead of feeding my excitement and allowing me to move forward with preparations, my anticipation prompted me to recoil from my packing responsibilities. I found myself spending hours in front of the internet, constantly refreshing my e-mail, anxiously awaiting news. 
       The Namibian Program Director had sent out an e-mail last week stating that we would know our locations by Monday, December 10. Yet, Monday came and went, as did Tuesday. Finally, on the verge of exploding from curiosity and excitement, I called the Program Director for an update. She assured me that the placement letter would reach my inbox overnight, so I logged into my e-mail and waited.
         Finally, at 3:30am, I received the long-anticipated message. 
        I have been assigned to teach at the Olukolu Junior Secondary School in the village of Onantsi, 2km from Ondangwa. Though Onantsi is likely little more than a small conglomeration of houses, Ondangwa has a population of 11,000. It is one of the larger towns in the Oshana region and is inhabited primarily by members of the Owambo ethnic group. I will be living in a three bedroom house with my school's principal and another teacher. My home will have electricity (though likely sporadic) and (cold) running water.
My Future Home!
         Even my school seems to be well-equipped for Namibian standards. Olukolo recently received 35 new laptops, a smart board for its computer lab, and intermittent wifi. The addition of computers opens up many doors to me as a teacher and I am optimistic about the potential for educational progress in my community. In addition, living on the outskirts of Ondangwa will allow me to easily access transportation to other areas of the country. I feel fortunate that many of the basic amenities I will need during my stay are just a short walk from my home and that I will be living only 12km away from the nearest WorldTeach volunteer.
       While it is easy to romanticize living in a foreign country--especially one as spectacular as Namibia--I know that my experience will bring with it an array of difficulties. I am aware that teaching abroad can be rewarding and life-changing, but I am also trying to keep everything in perspective. While I am sure that it will ultimately be a fantastic year, I am just as confident that there will be days so challenging that I question my decision to move to Africa. I find comfort in knowing that I will have fellow volunteers living nearby to turn to in moments of difficulty.

         With the announcement of my placement, my upcoming experience has been cast in a new light and has brought with it an array of questions and emotions. I have been glued to the internet these last few days in search of information about my school, my community and the beautiful country that I will soon call home. Though I now have a greater idea of what to expect, search results are revealing very little about Ondangwa, let alone Onantsi. As a result, much at this point is left to my imagination--an imagination that is thirsty for details.
          After nine months of waiting, what I do know is that these last two weeks will fly by and that, soon, I will be stepping foot on African soil. I know that, while I take my first cold shower or bucket bath, I will long for  my wonderful shower at home. I know that as I struggle with the unreliable public transportation system, I will miss the freedom of driving on my own schedule. I know that while living in such a sparse and arid environment, I will dream of Oregon's beautiful, verdant landscape. I know that I will long for my mom's cooking and for my comfortable mattress. I know that I will miss my friends, my family and Dan.
         But I also know that this is an experience I have been excited about for years, that I yearn to live and breathe the air of a new environment, that I am passionate about making positive contributions to Namibian society and that the rewards of volunteering abroad can be profound.
          And I know, deep inside, that in the end, it will all be worth it. 

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