Friday, May 2, 2014

Week 14: The Beginning of the End

By Subah Jamus and Brianna Mirabile

This week was the beginning of the end of our journey. We spent most of our week wrapping up our academic courses and internships/volunteering. We began by giving presentations on topics we researched that related to our internship placements. It was great to see how everyone combined their practical experience and knowledge with greater issues that Namibia is currently facing. We also discussed how our privilege affects our understandings and perceptions of the world. The fact that we've been able to take part in this program and spend time in Namibia was a privilege that we had initially taken for granted. Over the course of this semester, we have taken a critical look at this privilege in order to better understand our role here. This has culminated in a better understanding of ourselves, our community, and of Namibia as a whole.

In order to properly end our internships we had the opportunity to celebrate with our supervisors and coworkers. We each took the time to tell the room about where we each interned and express our gratitude to our supervisors. Brianna spent the last three months interning at Friendly Haven shelter, the only shelter for women and children who were survivors of gender based violence in Namibia. Through this experience she was able to relate her research on and passion for the issue of gender based violence to the real lives of Namibian women. The presentations by our fellow students highlighted the importance of our participation in the internship. Through this experience, we were able to integrate ourselves into one facet of Namibian society and get a better, first-hand understanding of what we discussed in our courses.

Photos of Brianna and Subah as young children that were used in our history
project in order to illustrate who the policy of Bantu education affects.
In order to wrap up our history class, we (Subah and Brianna) worked together on a project where we examined our lives in the context of Bantu Education. Bantu Education was established in 1953 by the Apartheid government of South Africa, which at the time controlled Namibia. Bantu Education further segregated the education systems, served the interest of the white supremacy, and denied the majority of people access to the same opportunities and resources enjoyed by the minority white population. We put ourselves in the shoes of students of that time period and examined what it would have been like for both of us, considering our race and status. This put into perspective the privilege that we both experience today and made us think about how difficult it must have been to be subjected to such a ludicrous policy. We also realized the importance of reconciliation; although we weren't sure how it could be done- particularly since it's only been 24 years since Namibia gained independence.

A photo taken by Brianna at Friendly Haven shelter for her 
photojournalism and social change project for development.
In our last development class we found creative ways to present an issue in development. Brianna looked at how photojournalism can be used as a means for social change. Especially when trying to create awareness for the challenges facing caregivers of gender based violence survivors. In order to do this, she photographed the women of the shelter's hands because that is their greatest point of contact with the survivors. Whether it be through cooking, cleaning, or physical support, their hands are vital to the care they give.

Subah, Lillian, and Olivia did their creative project on food scarcity around the world. In our presentation we split the classroom into four different countries (United States, Brazil, Namibia, Bangladesh). Out of the four countries we chose, we did a classroom activity that represents how food secure each country is. The way we did this was by using pieces of candy, each country received a certain amount of candy and depending on certain factors the countries would either receive or give back candies. Everyone in the class expanded on different issues within development, and we learned how interconnected and multifaceted issues of development can be. In addition, it showed us the many ways in which you can go about creating social change.

With the official ending of our academic classes, we also began to reflect on our stay here in Windhoek as we begin our journey to Cape town on May 3rd. Being here in Namibia we learned about the intersectionality of religion, development, politics, and history. No issue in Namibian history can be looked at meaningfully if one of these topics is left out. This new understanding we have has changed our perceptions dramatically and when we return to the U.S we will continue to challenge our perceptions and understandings. Our knowledge has grown exponentially, and we will be taking these new lessons back home with us and they will surely last with us a lifetime.

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