Friday, November 28, 2008

Wrapping Up, Winding Down

Week 14: November 17-23

By: Melissa Crowley-Buck, Adela Hoffman & Liz White

After our last week of classes, we realized how much we will miss Namibia and the “24.” Studying abroad in Namibia has allowed me (Liz) to become more creative in how I represent what I have learned. I have been lucky to learn a great deal from guest speakers, an opportunity that has only been given to me a few times at Saint Joe’s. It will be very depressing to leave the lifestyle we have been living for the past three and a half months. This semester has been one of the most beneficial, educational and greatest experiences of our lives. It is sad to realize that as a senior my (Liz’s) years at university are coming to an end and I cannot help but feel nervous to graduate. This semester abroad has made me realize that there are other opportunities out there that I would like to explore in order to find out if they would suit me better. At this time in my life I cannot change what I have started, but to my advantage this semester has enlightened me to see new paths that I have not seen before. Maybe I could somehow fuse my accounting major and the international community, which would allow me to work abroad. I feel I have changed so much that I am not even sure that accounting is the correct and best path for me. Time will tell, and hopefully at that time I will have the courage to follow the path destined for me.

Looking back on all the places we have visited during class time, we would have to say that Penduka was one of the most memorable. Penduka, an organization that reaches out to the disabled community, trains people living with Tuberculosis or other disabilities such as deafness, in craft skills so that they can earn a living. Profits made by Penduka are then used in Tuberculosis treatment, awareness, and support. Throughout this semester we have learned and some of us have seen first hand the effects of HIV/AIDS. The unique aspect of Penduka is that it recognizes the great impact of Tuberculosis, which is extremely prevalent in Namibia and yet tends to be marginalized. The Penduka TB Programme works to support victims of the illness and helps them not only receive treatment, training and education but it also assists TB patients to complete their TB training. One thing that did kind of bother us was that Penduka is run by a European woman who only comes to Namibia once or twice a year to check up on the site. We would like to see Penduka either run by the government or by a Namibian in order to ensure sustainability and not having dependency on a foreign aid.

We all agreed that the best speaker we’ve had so far was a man named Professor Kerina. At the age of 18 he went to the UN to petition and speak on behalf of those who wanted a free Namibia. And speaking of Namibia, did you know that this was the man who actually named the country Namibia! Crazy right? He was so well spoken and very inspiring. At one point he got to talking about our new President-Elect Barack Obama. He made an excellent point that relates both to Namibia and the United States. He said: “You cannot expect your President to come clean your house if it is messy. It is your house! Clean it yourself and then let him see what you’ve done. Do not expect him to do all the work. Especially the work that you can do yourself.” We thought it was such a wonderful point and a common theme we have come across in our time here. Namibian and US citizens alike, cannot rely on one person or one government to solve all our problems. It is constant work and cultivation that keeps a country moving and it requires everyone to do it. All in all we are nervous and excited to leave Namibia. We are sad to leave the people we have come to know and have shared so many experiences with. At the same time we are so excited to return home and share our experiences and knowledge of Namibia with our friends and family.

It is so easy to go home and simply return to our everyday lives but we like to believe we’ll do otherwise. At the very beginning of the semester, while we were still in South Africa, one of our professors, Linda, told us that we have turned a significant corner in our lives by coming to Africa, that we can never again bury our heads in the sand of ignorance and oblivion. It has taken this semester to really understand what she meant by that. We feel like all of us here will never forget what we have seen in Africa and will carry that for the rest of our lives.

Photo Captions:
1. Students before their last class in Namibia
2. Penduka's mission statement
3. Majority of the students sad on the way home from their last class visit
4. Student Melissa Crowley-Buck with Professor Kerina

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