17 July, 2007. Tuesday. 8:23pm Listening to: “Is This Love?” mix,… - Angie's Peace Corps (Namibia) Adventure
Jul. 20th, 2007
17 July, 2007. Tuesday.
Listening to: “Is This Love?” mix, tons of different artists
Where to start? It’s been a really long time now since I journaled. I’ve realized again that I’ve been slacking on my journal writing. But then again, the last few weeks have been crazy busy and all over the place. This is the first week since the middle of June that I’m at site all week long. You know, it’s really hard for me to journal after a long time. I never know where to start, what to put in, what to leave out. I never do justice to everything that should be said, and I feel like I don’t get to cover everything I’d like to. And I don’t want to make this super long, but lately I’ve been realizing that the more I journal the more memories I’ll have, the more clearer they’ll be, when I leave here and look back on the whole thing.
So let’s just say that a WHOLE lot has happened over the last few weeks. Among the highlights: visiting Rute for a long weekend (she’s back for good!); Peace Corps Regional Meeting; the incredible huge success of the Northern Girls Conference; my never-ending flu; and it seems I’ve met someone at a time when I was least expecting/ looking for it.
28 June- 2 July:
Spent in Otavi visiting Rute. I hadn’t seen her since she was at the hospital in Windhoek after her accident. She’d been through a lot since I’d seen her last- dealing w the whole psychological aspect of the accident, fighting Peace Corps to not med-sep her, gotten to take a short vacation in the states, etc. So it was beyond wonderful to see her and spend a few days alone just catching up on everything on both of our ends. We spent the first night getting drunk together, and every other night just talking, talking, talking. About where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going. Talking about everything and anything. Getting retarded, playing cards, cooking nice meals, reminiscing and dreaming. She’s my best friend in Peace Corps, but at this point she’s way more than a Peace Corps friend. She’s become one of the closest people to me in my life, and I think that’s just because of the Peace Corps experience. You make friends quickly and share such deep good, bad, and crazy moments. This woman I’ll treasure way after Peace Corps, so yes… getting to spend those few days together was amazing. And I’m so happy she got to come back & is well on her way back to fully recovered.
Peace Corps Regional Meeting
5 July- 7 July in Ongwediva.
A great weekend meeting up with other Volunteers that I never get to see from my group, meet some of the new volunteers (Group 26), meet our new Country Director, and oh yeah some in-service training tossed into the formula. Great weekend, but too short-lived. Getting all the volunteers together is a huge rarity, so whenever it happens I wish it could last longer. New Country Director seems to have it together and seems serious about changing some of the things in the program, which I’m all for. Not to criticize our old CD, I just don’t think he was as aware of or interested in the issues of the health program.
Northern Girls Conference
12 July- 15 July
I could write so much about the NGC but, again, I wouldn’t know where to start. It sucked that I had the flu throughout the entire conference, but I sucked it up & was there for it all. It went so well. Not w/out the typically expected frustrations of trying to do such a huge conference in Namibia, in Africa. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of things that happen here that you just accept and deal with & have to not get frustrated with because it’s just Africa! But man oh man, the frustrations & the things that happen that would NEVER fly back in the States if we were doing the same thing back there. Ah but that’s the beauty of the whole experience. You just learn to laugh about shit.
But in the end, all those stupid little frustrations or problems don’t matter. All we had to do when crap got crazy was look around at all the girls. 80 girls from grades 8 & 9 , 8 peer leaders grades 10 & 11, and 8 teachers. The girls were SO happy and SO enjoying themselves. They had no idea about all the things we had to deal with behind the scenes in order to make everything happen. They were too happy enjoying the whole Conference. And at the end of the day, that’s what always matters.
The girls were SO clever and so well-behaved. They were right on. They absorbed everything. They put their hearts into everything. They showed each other the way. Besides the girl, our other proudest accomplishment from this whole thing is how much of it was carried out by the Namibians. Almost all of the Conference was facilitated by Namibians- teachers, peer leaders, guest speakers, members of the Ministry of Education’s Regional AIDS Committee for Education (RACE). The potential for sustainability is definitely there & definitely strong. And I know I speak for both Amber & myself when I say that that is one of our biggest accomplishments in our whole Peace Corps experience. And of course it helped that some Peace Corps Volunteers from last year first collaborated w some of these people and paved the way.
And one last thing.. can I just say how cool it was that the Namibian Vagina Monologues came to the conference and put on a “toned down” version of the Vagina Monologues?! It was soo fucking cool. You don’t understand- these girls, these kids, these people… NEVER talk about sexuality or really get much into reproductive health. Say the word “Vagina” or “Sex” and the girls will giggle and freak out. And one thing is to say it in English, but saying it in their local language is a WHOLE different story. These words, these topics, are never uttered in the local language. Getting them to talk about these things in their local language, and even English, was a huge deal. We were a little worried that it’d be too much for these girls, and I think the ladies who put on the show were crapping their pants, but it was SO worth it. I think the girls were floored at first, but by the end of the night they felt so comfortable talking about their private parts & about reproductive health in general. By the end of the weekend it was “Vagina vagina vagina”, but it’s not just the fact of saying the word & talking about it. What they took from it was how important & valuable that part of our bodies is and how we need to be comfortable w our parts, & why we must respect it & make sure that OTHERS respect it & respect our bodies, and ourselves. The reason all this is such a big deal is that we just can’t fight HIV/AIDS if we can’t talk about our private parts & about sexuality & if we can’t feel like WE have to take control of our own bodies.
Yeah this has got me for 9 days now and won’t go away. I picked it up at the Peace Corps Regional Meeting. It seemed like half of the teachers had the flu, probably from being around their learners. So it was passed on to me and hasn’t yet left me. Strangely enough I haven’t had fever or real body pain, it’s just coughing, sneezing, sore throat-ness, losing the voice. I don’t know what is up w this strain but it must be pretty serious cause now all my co-workers have it too. I probably passed it on to them and now that I’m back at the office after the NGC, they’ve passed it back to me. I’m finally getting the appropriate medicine tomorrow, so maybe I’ll feel better soon.
About the Guy
Yeah, I don’t know. This has been going on for a couple weeks now. He’s not a Volunteer- he’s Namibian. I don’t want to say too much about it because for one, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and two, I’m always really paranoid that by acknowledging this sort of thing I am jinxing it. So all I want to say is that the timing couldn’t be more terrible, but the situation (whatever it is that it is) couldn’t be more better. It’s like I found a needle in a haystack, and I wasn’t even looking. Not at all looking, not at all on that mind set, not at all for that kinda thing. I’ve been just fine & dandy alone, focusing on my work, making plans for grad school, starting to get ready for going home. It just happened. The timing is horrible, and I have to wonder if this is all some sort of cruel joke that the world is playing on us both. But in my own personal view when this sorta thing happens you just go with it, and, as David Gray sings, “what will be, will be”. In the meantime, it’s fucking great. Currently, my room smells of fresh flowers. A needle in a haystack.
And that’s more than enough for one night. I hope I’ve done the last few weeks some justice. Now I don’t feel so guilty about not journaling anymore. I’ll try to keep up w it some more so that it doesn’t have to be so hard to start up again. Til next time, peace and love, and see you soon enough.