Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week 5: Urban Homestay/Classes

By Michele Poindexter
We officially reached the one month of our stay in Southern Africa this week, and the learning hasn’t stopped! The first full week of classes was completed, internships continued, and we were all welcomed into the homes of ten wonderful families during our weeklong Urban Homestay. There is certainly never a dull moment here at CGEE Namibia.
My favourite of all puppies!
In Environmental Connections (taught by the first woman in Namibia to manage a national park - how awesome is that?!), we began with an overview of the environmental issues in Southern Africa. These include deforestation, an increase in the urban population, land degradation, wildlife poaching, limited natural freshwater resources, desertification, loss of wildlife habitats, drought, poverty, and pollution. I had two main takeaways from this first class. First, there is a large need for regionally specific public awareness and education about environmental issues. Each region is geographically, climatically, and socially distinct, so a blanket solution would not be successful everywhere. However, the underlying issue of poverty must be addressed before environmental conservation and sustainability can be achieved. If people are struggling to meet their basic needs, considering the environment in their decisions for survival is not going to be a top priority. Second, our world is not isolated. The pollution in the United States, or anywhere in the world, affects Africa, and vice versa. This means that the choices we make every day (that might just be contributing to climate change) do not only affect us - they affect everyone, even on the other side of the world. To solve environmental degradation, all people must make an effort, for we all share one home, one Earth.
In Religion class, we learned a bit about the history of Black Liberation Theology, and its role in the United States and Southern Africa. Our conversation also expanded to include other oppressed groups such as the LGBT+ community. During our travels through Southern Africa, many of us have had conversations with folks about their views on the LGBT+ community in relation to their religion, so it was a good opportunity for us to discuss and reflect on what we had encountered compared to our own views.

My wonderful homestay family!!

The greatest part of my week was getting to live with a wonderful father, mother, and brother during the urban homestay. There is no better way to learn about the history and culture of a country than to completely immerse yourself in the lives of the people. I lived in a neighborhood called Khomasdal. During Apartheid, this neighborhood was built to house coloured people, a racial category created by the Apartheid regime. This categorization was meant to enforce the separation and supposed hierarchy of races. Today, Khomasdal is a diverse community, full of neighborly love and adorable dogs. My family and I talked about everything from immigration to the effect the Chinese are having on the country to drugs. I learned some Afrikaan words, learned how to bake some traditional dishes, and played with the cutest puppies on this planet. I am now more confident in fitting into the culture here and gained a wonderful new family - I’d say that was a pretty successful week.
I jumped in on the yoga class this week,
and we did some acroyoga!!
Now onto the next adventures!

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