Class Field Trips
On April 3 the Politics Class visited the University of Namibia to listen to a joint lecture by Dr. Blau and our own politics professor, Dr. Kaapama. Dr. Blau went first. He discussed Namibia’s latest statistics on socio-economic issues including poverty, employment, and HIV/AIDS and the Namibian government’s role in trying to make these problems subside. Next, Professor Kaapama gave his insight on the past, present, and future of Namibia’s government. Both gave informative and interesting presentations, which generated many questions in my mind. One of them is in regards to poverty. According to Dr. Blau’s presentation, the poverty rate is around 50%. Reflecting upon this statistic now, I (Gabrielle) am curious if the poverty rate has only been measured by only one method or if multiple methods have been used. I feel it would be one-sided to stake a claim without exploring various angles. In order to produce more accuracy, it would be resourceful to measure poverty by more than one method. This makes me wonder, what truly defines poverty? What is the income threshold that determines who is labeled poor?
After the presentation, students and faculty that attended were invited to indulge in some refreshments. While eating some snacks, a reporter with a camera man approached one of my classmates and me, eager to ask us a couple of questions. Charise and I offered answers about what it’s like to study in a foreign country, how we have participated in the United State’s 2008 election, and how politics in Namibia compares to politics in the United States. Hopefully, Charise and mine’s interview will be broadcasted on local or national Namibian news!
On April 4 in Religion Class, the students visited a Jewish Synagogue and an Islamic Centre in Windhoek. Both of these religions are minorities to the majority religion of Christianity in Namibia. We first stopped at the Jewish Synagogue where the rabbi spoke about the history of Judaism in Namibia. Over time, there have been different amounts of Jews residing in Namibia, yet in recent years the numbers are decreasing at alarming speeds. Today, there are around than 60 Jewish people in all of Namibia. This seemed to me like it could cause a bit of trouble with funding for the Jewish community. With only 60 individuals identifying as Jewish in all of Namibia, funding for the Synagogue in Windhoek and other synagogues throughout Namibia is dependent on these few people. Further in the conversation with the rabbi, the topic of discrimination came up. With Judaism being a minority and Christianity playing a significant role in the lifestyles and beliefs of the majority of Namibians, the idea of discrimination against Jews in history and in present day is very plausible. The rabbi told us that there have never been any successful attacks against the synagogue in Windhoek. However, once in the 1970s, the synagogue did face a threat, thus resulting in the construction of grenade safe shelters around each of the windows.
The visit to the Islamic Centre was of particular interest to me, due to my lack of exposure to Islam. Learning about the introduction and history of Islam in Namibia was interesting, especially compared to the history of both Christianity and Judaism. At the temple, our speaker got very emotional when he spoke about his belief system and how they relate to Christianity and the United States. While I do believe that it is very important to hear everyone’s viewpoints and that there are both sides to every story. When these points are presented in anger, it is hard to take every point seriously and with the respect and consideration it deserves. Thus, when the foundational beliefs of Christianity were being picked apart with aggressive words and in an aggressive tone of voice, it was difficult for me to politely consider his point of view.