2/10/10

A day in the life from Uis, Namibia

Christina Baum shares below a snapshot of a typical day as a WorldTeach volunteer in Uis, Namibia. Uis is a small town in the northwestern region of the country where Christina is teaching 6th grade math as well as working on a library development project.

"5:54- wake up, wash face, breakfast of cornflakes and coffee

6:45- arrive at the school. The school is made up of three long buildings running parallel to each other that contain 5 classrooms each. Running perpendicular to these is another building which has the office, store room, and the principal’s office. Behind that building are the bathrooms.

7:00-7:15- daily staff meeting. Involves greeting everyone else, praying together/ reading from the bible, announcements from the principal and staff (on Mondays and Fridays this is replaced by the all-school meeting outside where students sing prayers, the national anthem, the bible is read, and announcements to students are made)

7:20-10:00- “morning” classes. I’m basically teaching a part-time load (1/2 to 2/3 as much as other teachers) so during off periods I either work on lesson planning in the staff room, work in the library, or read.

10:00-10:30- break. We head to the staff room for tea time. Teachers contribute $50 Namibian monthly and get a tea bag or a cup of coffee each day with sugar (we make it ourselves). This is also when I eat my apple and 2.5 rusks. It is not my favorite time of day since 95% of the time the other teachers are speaking in other languages. I have a very hard time making small talk here that doesn’t feel like I’m just asking hundreds of questions and getting one-word answers, so I often just read or space out. Also, during this time the kids are wreaking havoc outside and women from the town come sell snacks in the school yard.

10:30-1:10- “afternoon” classes. Same as before break

1:10- 1:45- depending on the day, detention.

1:45-2- lunch, typically a peanut butter sandwich and some guava yogurt with granola. Side note: guava yogurt with granola is God’s gift to man. Probably the third best food in the world (after chocolate and buffalo wings)

2-5:30- various activities. Often working in the library for 1-2 hours, sometimes attending athletic practice, sometimes a short nap and reading, frequently lesson planning/preparation. Also the time when students come to visit.

5:30- shower. By this time of day I am hot and the water is warm.

Sometime between 6:00 and 8:00- dinner. Consists of rice, noodles, chicken, eggs, bread, cheese, tomatoes, cauliflower, peanut butter, or yogurt (usually some combination of them) depending on the day.

After dinner to 9:45- checking email, reading, cleaning, watching shows/movies.

Sometime between 9:15 and 10:15- bed

And that’s my life! Today was my first day doing “study” after school (having kids come in for some more one-on-one attention or just extra practice) and that seemed to go well, so that might be happening more often. I was also asked to describe how things smell here, and my only answer is this: dusty. The classrooms smell overwhelmingly stale and dusty in the mornings before we open the windows and outside smells… dusty, except if you get within 20 feet of the kids' bathroom, but that’s another story. More interesting might be the sounds. It may be because I’m so close to the school, but I can hear children shouting almost all day. Parents yell, too, and there is the infrequent sound of a car clattering by on the rocky road outside my house or music being blasted from a house somewhere nearby. It is incredibly noisy except during meal time (1:15 to 2:15ish) when it is dead quiet and after about 9 when things die down."

[photo courtesy of Maggie Tabach]

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