Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Relieving Stress and Applying Lessons to Life after Namibia

Week 13: November 10-16
By: Danielle Veal, Latrease Davenport, & Michelle Munger

After traveling from the South, we came back to Windhoek for a week of classes and the normal stresses of being students in a foreign country. From classes, to our internships and volunteering, to community events, this week has been full of making memories and realizing that time here in Namibia is precious. To end a stressful but beneficial week, we had a tye-dying and t-shirt making community event. Feelings of unity shot through the group and I began feeling closer to my fellow classmates than I have in the past. It’s very important that we have an outlet, and this community event gave us a chance to relieve some of the stresses we’ve been carrying on our shoulders. Everyone’s creative juices were flowing and talents were shown. There were many proud faces and impressive projects created that night. We are starting to realize that the time is coming near for our departure from Namibia and our semester is almost over. Because of it, it’s easier to embrace the small moments that make us smile and the small memories that can only be lived once.

As a closing of the semester we spent this week’s history class having an Antiracism and Diversity Workshop. We have spent the semester discussing difficult issues of Apartheid and racism--making the issues personal for our lives and talking about bringing home what we have learned. Having a safe place for open dialogue has allowed each one of us to feel comfortable talking about issues of privilege. I (Michelle) realized how much I have taken for granted in every day situations and how my whole life things have come easy to me. I have never had to benefit from Affirmative Action or know that I was discriminated against because of my gender or skin tone. It has been difficult to accept the privilege without a sense of guilt. I am now trying to be more aware of when my privileges come into the picture and question them. Lastly, we discussed with others from our schools, how to bring home what we have learned and how we have changed. It is really important to make sure that our time here is not in vain. I have decided to make a conscious effort to always beware of the comments being said, even when only in jest. While dealing with these issues can be very uncomfortable, it is during those uncomfortable moments when I believe we can best learn from one another and learn about ourselves. I am really thankful to have opportunities like this one to make me reevaluate my opinions and thoughts about racism and diversity.

In Development Class this week, many of us signed up to visit different donor and international aid agencies around Windhoek. The students were fully responsible for setting up the visits to these agencies, as well as finding transportation to and from the meeting. This assignment also allowed us to learn more about international aid and how different countries are helping with the development process in Namibia. Some students visited GTZ, which is a German enterprise that works internationally in many different countries in the area of sustainable development. Other students took a trip to UNAID where they learned the difficulties aid agencies face with very little funding. On Friday, the entire class visited the USAID office in Windhoek. There, we met with Gloria, the UNAIDS Program Officer. During this meeting, she talked about possible career avenues that students can take after college. Gloria spoke very candidly on working abroad and some of the challenges that come with working for a governmental agency. Speaking with people who have been in her position allows students like us to think about our futures and the different opportunities that exist for careers abroad. Traveling abroad has opened many students’ eyes to perhaps living and working overseas, and some have even thought of raising a family in a foreign country. Although we are here to learn about Namibia and Southern Africa, we are also here to learn about ourselves and think and reflect upon where we want to be in the future.

So now there’s only one a few more weeks of class. There are only a few more workdays at our internships, only a few more nights left in Windhoek. Everyday is a new experience and a new day to reflect and to gain knowledge to bring back to the states. Although we are all missing our family and friends very much, we are also dreading the moment in which we leave this country. So that’s why we’re trying to have as much fun as possible and learn as much as we can, and so we will never forget Namibia.


Captions:

  1. Group Uniquesm during the Antiracism and Diversity Workshop (Michelle, Latrease, John and Jesse)
  2. Visiting the United Nations for Development Class (Michelle and Brittney)
  3. Tye-dying at the Community Event (Heidi, Meg, Eppie, Brittney, and Alana)
  4. Cooling off in the pool! (Latrease, Danielle, Rachel, Meg, and Heidi)

1 comment:

Lucy said...

It is really interesting post.

These kinds of community activities really help people in not only improving their personalities but also to stop stress especially when we are far from home.