Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lights, Cameras, Costumes

Week 11 (October 27 – November 2)

By Brett Hartmann, Eppie Kyles, Becky Nieber, and Tom Siburg

As we finally returned to classes after fall break all we could think about was the amount of work we had yet to do, along with the realization that we only have one and half (1½) more months until we’re officially home again, having to soon say goodbye to all the new friends we’ve made.

It the midst of a very busy academic week most of us spent our Wednesday afternoon and evening working behind the scenes and starring in a Fashion Show to raise money for a future center in Northern Namibia. Behind the scenes specialists included Becky and Megan on hair and makeup, Heidi and Rachel on merchandise, Eppie on music, and Danielle and Alana behind their lens’ on photography. Melissa and Lauren gave an epic performance as the MC’s for the evening, giving well delivered jokes when staling for the next models to walk. Brett and Paul started the event with musical performances on the guitar and vocals. And to put it all together, Jessica, Liz, Eppie, Brittany, LaTrease, Thomas, Brett, Paul, Jason, and our fabulous intern Anna all worked the runway and strutted their stuff as international models wearing clothes all handmade by Taura, half of which were all made from recycled material. Jason looked especially great in his garbage bag jumpsuit.

You may be wondering how in the world we got involved in a Fashion Show in downtown Windhoek. A fellow Namibian friend, Taura, has dreamed and planned Nurturing Grounds Center for a village in the Northern part of Namibia called Osipita. This center will one day serve as soup kitchen, education center for young and old, career center for unemployed youth, and counseling program. Although it was at a very stressful time in our schedule, the pay off was worth the work. I feel like I can speak for everyone when I say that it felt amazing to help such a genuine person get closer to her life’s goal of giving back to the Namibian people. It was great to get out into the community for the show; yet, it felt confusing because the majority of the attendants were not Namibian. We began our semester trying to define the word “help” and how to truly help in Namibia without broadcasting our own ideology to the ones we’re trying to “help.” I feel that we were able to truly help in our endeavors of the fashion show. We felt that this was a genuine form of help because our entire house showed up and did what ever was asked of us without bringing our own agendas to her event. We all left feeling accomplished and helpful, all while having a blast with one another for an evening.

The following morning, history class was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We actually wanted to be there for the entire four hours. The class gave presentations about racism. Most people chose to do autobiographical projects, but some students researched other race-related topics. This was one of the best classes we have had since coming to Namibia. It was great to hear everyone’s personal insight on race and compare it to my own. One presentation literally caused a few tears to well up in my (Brett) eyes.


Often times I do not realize how serious of an issue race is, probably because I am a white male that lives in the United States. Since I have never had any problems that stemmed from my whiteness, I really had not thought about how much race can affect people. I think that is the case for most white males. You only notice the problems of your race and gender when you get discriminated against. How often do white males get discriminated against? Eppie and I certainly would never have the same experience growing up simply because our skin colors are different, but also because she is a woman.

During the creation of our presentations we had the chance to speculate about what we would have done if we had lived under apartheid. This was extremely scary for me being a white person. I decided that I probably would have just gone along with the system because it was the norm here. If you tried to be a hero and voice the concern on your conscience about the injustice of apartheid, you were ostracized from the white community. Dr. Byers Naudé was one of the standup whites under apartheid. He was a pastor who criticized the apartheid laws. Eventually, he was pushed away from the white community and all that he was familiar with. That takes courage. I do not know if I would have been that brave. I like to think I would be, but I doubt it.

It looked like a star studded event from Hollywood: Michael Phelps, Nastia Luken, Tommy Pickles, and Britney Spears all in our living room…….in Namibia! What brought these colorful characters to 5 Simpson Street, Windhoek West? The occasion was Halloween and we college students could not let the 5,000 mile distance between Namibia and the U.S. prevent us from missing out on celebrating one of America’s favorite holidays. Many of us spent the week running around town looking for customary costumes, but came up short, so we went old school and had homemade costumes. Halloween isn’t widely recognized in Namibia (actually it isn’t widely recognized in any country outside of the U.S), so we kept the festivities inside our little American enclave and boogied down into the late hours in an aura of nostalgia.

Photo captions

  • Make-up artist Becky putting make-up on a model during the fashion show. Taken by Alana
  • Fierce poses from the models for the fashion show. Taken by Megan Lee
  • Models Anna and Liz in recycled wear. Taken by Megan Lee
  • Brett, Paul, and Taura perform a song at the fashion show. Taken by Alana
  • Group Halloween Shot

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