Saturday, February 28, 2009

Been a LONG time.

So... I realize it's been quite some time since I updated this blog. I'll just give the update in the form of an interview with myself:


Q: Where do you live?
I live in a small town called Arandis near the coast of Namibia. It's a mining town, situated about 15 km outside the world's largest open-pit uranium mine. The ethnic makeup of the community is mostly Damara, a Khoisan tribe, and Owambo, a Bantu tribe. There are small numbers of other tribes as well. Life near the coast is pretty western. The town's streets are paved and there are street lights and even municipal trash pickup. Almost everyone in town is somehow tied to the mine, which provides high-paying (if not risky) jobs. Agriculture is extremely limited as Arandis is situated in the Namib desert. It looks like the surface of the moon. No grass, no trees. Just little dry shrubs here and there and lots of rocks.

Q: What do you do?
My assignment is Math Education. My host organization is the corporate foundation arm of the uranium mine. The foundation works in Education and Community Development Initiatives. As part of the Education Initiatives, it has built a Math Center that runs an interactive computer software from South Africa as an after school tutoring program. I help run this center and tutor the learners who go there. At least, that was my job last year. I recently started teaching Gr 9 and 12 math at the Secondary School in the mornings. I've also been involved in ICT training for teachers, both at a national conference and in Arandis.

Q: What is your living situation like?
I live in one of the foundation's houses with two Namibian roommates who also work for the foundation. I have hot, running water and electricity. I even have a microwave. Arandis is pretty nice too. We have a swimming pool, basketball/volleyball court, tennis court, a soccer stadium/track field, even a gym and a boxing ring. Unfortunately, many youth prefer to spend time in one of the 26 shabeens (bars) in town (for the ~4000 people living there). Then again we have churches, a big town hall, and even a hydroponic vegetable garden sponsored by the foundation.

During training, I learned to speak a clicking language while living with a family in a Damara village. Transportation is another fun issue. Last year, most of my energy was spent just integrating into my community and building various contacts. This experience has been high and low but it is rarely boring. Over the recent holidays I toured Namibia and made it all the way to Capetown to celebrate NYE. Namibia is a place that has few people but is rich in cultural diversity. A few paragraphs can hardly sum up what I've been through in the past year but... here's to hoping I will be able to post more regularly!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Going non-public for a little while...

Due to privacy concerns, will probably release some journals later. For the time being, please email me if you would like to be on my list!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just a few more days now

One week from today, I fly to Washington for staging. I haven't really had much opportunity to allow this to really sink in, however, because I've been studying for the GRE for the past 10 days. I know, I know, no one really studies for it. But hey, I was a math major! My vocabulary actually DECREASED in college, unless you count econ terms or theorem names. Who needs to know what "recondite" means anyways?

Tomorrow morning I take the test, and after that I can focus on... leaving. I stopped in Ann Arbor one last time this weekend. It's weird to think that I probably won't know anyone but old professors there by the time I get back. I was able to pick up a 5th-gradeish math textbook, hopefully it will come in handy.

I haven't even physically packed yet! eek! Hope it all fits...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My application timeline

2/22/07 submitted application
3/27/07 local interview
4/5/07 regional interview + nomination: sub-saharan Africa, math education, 9/07
4/12/07 sister received medical packet
4/14/07 I received medical packet
4/16/07 had blood drawn for lab tests, scheduled physical
4/30/07 physical exam + pap smear + TB test
5/2/07 wisdom teeth extracted
5/3/07
TB test read
5/4/07 picked up lab results and had immunization records faxed from home
5/22/07 application withdrawn (family health issues)
6/4/07 had forms signed at UHS
6/18/07 sent in medical packet
6/27/07 Medical packet received by OMS
7/31/07 application reactivated by Africa Placement HQ
8/6/07 informed of "medical suitability issue," tried to get in touch with my nurse, who is out of town, for the next two weeks
8/22/07 finally spoke with nurse; there was no suitability issue, she needs just one more lab report to medically clear me!
8/27/07 Unofficially medically cleared!
8/29/07 Officially medically cleared
8/30/07 Invite mailed
9/4/07 Invite received: Namibia, staging Oct. 29, secondary math education
9/6/07 Dental clearance application sent
9/10/07 Dental packet returned (USPS mishandled the xrays)
10/03/07 Staging packet received
10/03/07 booked plane tickets to staging via email
10/04/07 Dental clearance application resent
10/09/07 Dentally Cleared
10/09/07 booked plane tickets to staging via phone (email didn't work)

10/29/07 Staging


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Staging Packet has arrived.

My staging (pre-training orientation) packet arrived today, with more details about how I'll get to DC and exactly what's going to happen once I got there. I have a 15 hour flight to Johannesburg!!! This will definitely be the longest of my life.

I'm a bit overwhelmed right now with prepping to leave the country for two years, between making arrangements with cell phone, car, and other institutions as well as mentally and emotionally preparing myself. Right now I just want to spend as much time as I can with friends and family but I also have a lot to do.

Also, bad news about dental clearance. A few days after I arrived in Europe, PC sent my dental application back because the xrays were fused together in the mail. This means that I've got a pretty tight window for getting dentally cleared, as I just arrived back from my trip 2 days ago. I went to the dentist this morning and the xrays are in the mail again, this time mounted to prevent fusing.

Going away party is the 27th!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I'm leaving for Europe in less than ten hours!

Eeek! My plane leaves tomorrow morning. This past week was a whirlwind of taking care of PC stuff and getting ready to leave. Getting my PC passport application out sure was exciting. First, I befuddled the Post Office-- turns out they hadn't had an application like me in three years. Next, while trying to obtain an original birth certificate, I discovered that I wasn't actually born in the county I thought for the past 21 years. Learn something new every day, I guess. Passport and Namibian visa applications, check.

Considering that my resume has almost always been used to try to get me a research job or something else focusing on my analytical skills, rewriting my resume to send overseas turned out to be quite a considerable task. Finished that one a few hours ago... and finished packing about fifteen minutes ago. I still need to finish my aspiration statement... I hardly wrote any papers in college so I tend to be very vague in my writing, approaching a question like I approach a math problem. In math, I'd generally just scribble out nonsense on scrap paper until I get an answer, then I just write only what's necessary on what I turn in. When I write though, I tend to skip straight ahead to the conclusion without easing my reader into it. Sometimes writing is like pulling teeth! Especially because it matters to me so much, and I really want to get this right!

Okay enough procrastinating--I'm just gonna get down to it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Namibia, here I come...

My invitation arrived at my sister's house this morning and it's official, I'm going to Namibia to teach secondary/upper primary math. I'll begin staging in the US Oct. 29 and will leave with my fellow Namibia 27ers Nov. 1. Service will last two months, then I begin on December 28, ending on Dec. 28, 2009.

I'm missing three rounds of holidays, so I'm thinking that my going-away party will have to be themed the holidays. Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, my sister's birthday, and Christmas all fall between 10/29 and 12/28.

More information is soon to come once I actually read my invitation packet (I'm still at my mom's place in Ludington right now).