Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's new in Uis

The only thing that is really new around here is that I traded classes with another teacher so instead of 5th grade agriculture I will be teaching 6th grade math, and I couldn’t be more excited. I had to call my field director and have a chat before I changed because it felt like it might be a cop out on my part since 5th grade can be so frustrating and that, honestly, is part of the reason I wanted to switch. But she pointed out that I will be happier, the other teacher will be happier, the 5th graders will probably understand more and the 6th graders will have someone who actually knows the material teaching them, so I’m pretty pumped.
Yesterday was interesting… after school I was reading in my room and the wind slammed my door shut, breaking it and trapping me inside. I climbed out through the window, took apart the lock to no avail, and sent some kids to get my housemate since I didn’t want to leave my room unattended with the window wide open. After sitting in the sun waiting for about 35 minutes, she finally showed up and couldn’t do anything but sent a text message to the principal. Then she left. So I was locked in my room, waiting for help, not knowing if it was coming. I had a bit of a meltdown. Finally after a couple hours it was starting to get dark so I went next door to my neighbor’s house. He is the principal at the high school and we have spoken once, for about 6 seconds. He agreed to come help, climbed in through the window and fixed it, making him my hero forever. After profuse thanks he left and 30 seconds later the principal drove up saying, “oh I thought you might be trapped inside.”
Today was the first athletics practice after school. We divide the whole school, including teachers into two teams- red and blue (go blue!) and the teachers run the practice for their team. “Practice” means they run around and have races, there are no games or sports or anything involved, it’s just sprints. I took over the blue girls practice and taught them how to do a relay race, which they loved and did for about the last half of practice. Then I went and tried to go home only to be followed by a HERD of small children- there must have been at least 20 all fighting to hold my hand and none of whom I knew. They were all even young enough that they didn’t speak English so I had no idea why they were coming with me. When we got to the house I literally had to lock them out until my housemate came home and shooed them away, but when I went out to read 30 minutes later 8 of them came back and played around me on the porch. Needless to say, the whole thing is quite hilarious, I passed another teacher on the way home and all she could say was “what are they doing?” and when I told her I had no idea, just following she couldn’t stop laughing.
Today I was having a conversation with one of my grade 5 learners and was trying to explain why I will only be here for a year, despite the language barrier. I explained about missing my family and said “my life is back there, I need to go back to it” and she looked at me and said “this isn’t your life?” It felt like a wakeup call to the fact that despite settling in this still feels like a dream or a vacation or something and I really do need to start realizing THIS is my life.

Update on the old news

I’m still working on the library and it is very gratifying. You can see the difference already and it is actually going to be organized but every time I feel like I finish part of it I think of something else that needs to be done, so this project will keep me busy at least. I’ve also gotten some new helpers. Monday afternoon I was working in there and four little girls came in they did their impression of me (which all of the kids in the school do, I don’t know where they get it- I swear I don’t walk like this) which is putting their hands on their waist and walking around swinging their hips back and forth. They followed me around in what felt like a game of follow the leader, doing their impression for quite a while until they got bored and started to help me clean. They are super enthusiastic if I give them trash to throw out or a rag to dust so I encourage it. Except yesterday I showed up and there were 10 kids waiting outside… and again these are the little ones who don’t speak English so there’s a lot of sign language involved to communicate “no! leave the books in the piles they’re in!”
6th grade sex ed continues to go well. Yesterday I had to answer the question “how does lesbian sex work?” which was definitely a test of my composure as a teacher… Today I actually got them to debate whether men should help with housework and child rearing and they got pretty passionate about it.
I’m starting to settle into a bit of a routine, both in the classroom and at school. I spend breaks lesson planning or working in the library and the afternoons reading, watching something, cooking, grading, or hanging out on the porch with the kids. Still no adult friends although I am getting to know my coworkers better and the age range of the kids has increased to include 4 to 8 year olds.
Also there is a creepy millipede-worm thing that lives in my bathroom. I named him ernest to make him less disgusting, and I think it helped.
No electricity or water right now so I’m going to finish here to conserve battery, please let me know if I’m leaving any unanswered questions!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Contact Info

Mailing address: PO Box 3 Uis, Erongo Region, Namibia
apparently the best way to prevent things from being broken into is to write religious sayings such as "jesus saves" and "god bless you" on the outside of things. Fabulous.

Also just in case anyone was thinking of visiting, I have a break from April 28 to May 22 and August 25 to September 6. I know it's expensive, but just in case :)

I'm not in the best mood to write more right now (I'll explain later) but I will update you soon! Missing home,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

My friends so far in Uis

So far, my friends in Uis range from age 6 to 14. My learners come to visit almost every day and I know that it will keep me busy and from becoming to anxious or lonely so we spend a lot of time together. I taught them swap (a game similar to uno) and they love it. We also spend a lot of time teaching eachother games from our respective cultures- lots of hand clapping songs and games involving standing in a circle and dancing. My favorite one so far (which isn’t just gibberish) goes as follows:
Down in the jungle where nobody goes
There’s a big fat mama washing her clothes
Something something about the noises she makes? And then some random sounds (icki icki shi shi) while you dance.
I usually have anywhere from 2 to about 10 kids on my porch and they rotate through. Also, I don’t think I have ever been touched this much in my life. They love playing with (and braiding and pulling) my hair and think it’s incredible that my skin leaves a white print when you touch it that disappears so they pinch me a lot. As I said it has been good for keeping me busy and we all know I enjoy acting like a 12 year-old (and this time I’m the cool kid ☺), but at times it feels a bit like I’m running a daycare so even as we speak I had to go tell the girls who have been lounging on my porch for a half an hour that I need a bit of time to myself. This might be partly because I’m still worn out from last night when they took me to a show. I know in retrospect that I was kind of a chaperone, but the really wanted me to go see a concert at the local high school and assured me it was for adults as well. In fact, I was one of about 5 adults and the show took forever. Despite the ticket saying “starts promptly at 7:30” the performance began at about 9:15 and waiting around involved a lot of dancing. It was interesting to see how much teenage behavior is universal, or at least it was until I realized it’s just the really obnoxious parts, like running around giggling about a boy who just walked by who may or may not be someone’s boyfriend even though they’ve never spoken. Maybe I was just tired and cranky but this got old very, very fast.
At least the performance itself was mostly good, it was mainly dancing and it seems everyone here is a good dancer (I would get schooled by most 6 year olds). The concert itself was an initiation for new students at the school and as part of it they had to crossdress with the boys wearing the blue school skirts and the girls wearing pants and ties. My students were scandalized. They kept freaking out and laughing and saying “that’s a boy in the skirt” to which I had to reply “I know, I know” over and over and restrain myself from launching into a lecture about American culture and crossdressing. Today the plan is just to spend most of the morning and early afternoon by myself and finish lesson planning for the week, hope everyone back home is having a fabulous weekend!

p.s. they’re also teaching me some quequevongo and I can almost get it, but there’s one click I need to practice so I’ll be doing that a bit today too…

Around Town

Since I’ve walked around a little bit and people have been asking I figured I would try to tell you a little bit about Uis. I went to the store with my housemate a couple days ago and it turns out the actual town part of Uis is about 5 minutes (West?) on the highway from where I live. There is a pretty nice Supermarket and it is very much a tourist town, there are 3 hotels and a few nicer restaurants. All the houses in this part of town are much nicer and bigger and the streets themselves are laid out in a grid. Where I live the establishments consist of the police station, the electric company, a few small shops, a butcher, some churches and the primary school and high school. The houses are smaller and are mostly 2 or three (small) rooms. There are a lot of houses with tin roofs, but none entirely made of tin like we saw in Windhoek. My part of town is one basically one big loop, and I personally live just across from the school where I teach. The paved road (called the tar road here) continues from the highway past the police station and a couple shops and stops at the high school, which means that it does not go all the way to where I live. I know all this because yesterday a few of my students took me on a little walking tour of the area, more about that coming next ☺

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photos added

Some of my pictures of Etosha National Park have been added. (Go to older posts at the bottom of the page to find them).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Highs and Lows

Today has been another manic day, just to give you an idea, here’s a list of some of the highs and lows:
Low: No water this morning… went to school without a shower or water for coffee or brushing teeth.
High: Spent the first part of the morning with the 6th graders. After a rousing game of hangman (or as I re-named it letter-letter word) we dove right in to our first topic and talked about female reproductive organs and menstruation (lucky me, that’s unit one…). I then actually had students both male and female groan when they had to go to P.E. and ask “will we be with you after?” because they wanted to keep doing their menstruation projects. Success.
ALSO, I AM SO EXCITED- while they were in P.E. I got to go to the library. It looks like it has never been used, books are either in piles on the floor, in boxes or thrown onto shelves but I definitely have a project in cleaning it up and since BIS (basic information sciences), which I’m teaching, has a big library component, you bet those kids will be in there.
Low: other teachers randomly decided halfway through the day to actually follow our schedule so I had 7th grade BIS and Art and had absolutely no lesson plan. Came up with an idea to have each of them “teach” or lead an art class… we’ll see how that goes. Then I had 5th grade BIS which was basically a disaster. I had to break up a fight and had no lesson plan. This is terrible to say but it was almost fortunate that it took them about 20 minutes to make name tags…
High: came home after getting my tax id number and watched a movie.
Low: it was a romantic comedy and reminded me how lonely it is here so I went outside to read.
High: a student came by with a homemade bag addressed to Miss Tina which said “being with you is like being with God” and had a pair of big earrings in it ☺

… Anyway, you get the point. Tomorrow will mark the end of the first week and I am both very much looking forward to and dreading the weekend. I will have lots of time to organize and lesson plan for next week, but my housemate is leaving so I will also be here alone. We’ll see if that means I force myself outside to meet people or if I keep myself busy and watch half of the 200 movies Alex gave me for Christmas. You know I’ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amusing things (or at least I think so)

Quote of the day from a learner’s response to the prompt “to me god is…” in my religon class: “To me god is the most high god the helper of the poo and rich.” This totally made me laugh much harder than it should have, but that seems like a good sign.
I feel almost manic today, fluctuating between incredibly happy and excited (mostly when I’m teaching) and so confused and frustrated that I’m almost on the verge of tears (because I have no idea what is going on at the school). I’m convincing myself that this is normal though, and I’m glad the causes of these feelings are the way they are and not reversed…
Instead of rambling about what I taught today, I thought a few stories about cultural misunderstandings I have already had might make a good post. The first is mostly just me being a crazy person, but my first night sleeping here I could not get my mosquito net up over my bed. I though it would be fine but as I tried to fall asleep I could hear many (large sounding!) bugs flying around my room and panicked. I moved my bed to the middle of the room and tied the net to my light fixture but it still didn’t cover the whole thing. As I sat there thinking I would never get to sleep, my roommate came in and laughed at me, catching this (huge!) beetle in her hand and saying “it is harmless. It does not bite.” She then proceeded to tell all of the staff about how ridiculous I am the next day, needless to say, I’m still sleeping with my top half under the net ☺
I also had an experince with a new collegue who I was trying to befriend as we drove her to a store a short ways away. I was trying to be polite and motioned exaggeratedly for her to get in the front seat. Except I forgot that the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, so in my attempt to make a nice gesture I forced her into the back seat. Awesome.
Lastly I had an audience while doing my laundry the other day. My roommate and a man who works at the school literally stood by and kept saying “do it again! Look at that!” and laughing at me. I suppose I can be a good sport about being the cheap entertainment as long as my clothes are clean…
Oh also, to answer an email question, yes spitting cobras are a real concern. Mostly only if I’m out in the middle of a field, but this is not just complete paranoia.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The First Day of School

Today was incredible. I arrived at school and after a prayer in the staff room (which was actually quite calming, it was all about how we can’t know the future but the only way we can make it good is to be positive and proactive) I was introduced to the students. They line up every morning by gender and grade in the courtyard of the school and range from tiny (adorable!) pre-kindergarten learners to grade 7. Then the students sang a welcome song and a prayer in their traditional language (yes I’m still ignorant of what it is, people speak something else pronounced kweekweecongo which I will never be able to learn because it has four different click sounds in it) and as they swayed and stomped the rhythm and sang I had another “Oh my gosh, I’m in Africa” moment.
It turns out I will most likely be teaching 5th and 6th grade science, 5th and 7th grade art, religion, and basic information sciences (BIS means computers here although my school doesn’t have any computers yet so I’m interested to see how this turns out…). I spent from 7 to 10 with the 6th graders and I think I connected with them very well. I did a ‘grab bag’ activity where they pull objects out of a bag to learn about me and we played a game to get to know them too. We created rules for the classroom and outlined suitable punishments (more on that in a moment). I was so excited after the first three hours that during my break I sent a message to a friend saying “I love teaching!” it felt like such a good first day but I might have spoken too soon…I did the same activities with the 5th graders next and there were many more learners in that grade and they were a little out of control. We had to cut one of the games short and it took a lot more energy to deal with them.
The seventh graders redeemed my day with the last few hours of classes, though. They got really into the activities I had them do and after we agreed on classroom rules and consequences I had them write it on the first page of their notebooks and make it a contract by adding “I understand and agree to these rules and accept the consequences for breaking them” and having both them and I sign it. They took it very seriously, which I hope bodes well for the year and they were all very eager to talk to me after class (“do you know beyonce?”)
My coworkers are an interesting bunch, definitely the main source of anxiety for me today, but I will write more about them later on when I know more about them and hopefully when my principal gets back and can actually tell me what’s going on.
Alright well that’s enough about the first day although there is one more post coming, I just feel like this is an adequate summary of classes!

Corporal Punishment

Part of outlining the rules of the classroom with my students today was agreeing on consequences for breaking them and explaining that I, unlike my fellow teachers, will not be using corporal punishment. I didn’t think that this conversation would be quite so revolutionary until I saw my coworkers behavior today. I had to witness through a window in my classroom a teacher pushing down and kicking a grade 5 students and the fourth grade teacher literally carried a whip (almost like a riding crop) while another teacher had a section of old hose to use.
This is obviously something that I would love to address in my school and it is going to be difficult not broaching it as a topic until I am more settled. I need to show that my classes can be controlled without corporal punishment and feel out my relationships with my fellow teachers before I can talk about this with them, but in the meantime this is going to be very difficult to watch.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So it begins…

Today I arrived in Uis! It has been a long day, starting with getting up far too early to bid a sad farewell to our group members in the north. Then I found out that I would be traveling alone (without the other girls in the Erongo region) to my site, which made me nervous, but things worked out. More specifically, this is a text I sent to a couple other people in my group halfway through the trip: “well my driver walked in on me peeing and my principal won’t be there to meet me when I get there, but there is an adorable small child in my car so it all works out.” Specifically the small child (my driver’s son, his name was Alexander) came along to see animals and we were not disappointed. As the countryside turned from green to desert and we approached Uis along the 120 Km of gravel road, we saw springbok, kudu, donkey’s and goats and at least 20 minutes of the ride was spent with Alexander saying repeatedly “goat! Goat! Goat! Goat!” in africaans. Adorable.
I was nervous to arrive without my principal waiting for me but I was met instead by my housemate (yes I apparently have a housemate) and led to what will be my home for the next year. Sadly, I don’t know her name, but I do know the woman I am living with is a first grade teacher who also just moved to Uis because she received a promotion and is now a department head. She is very friendly and has been incredibly helpful since I arrived.
My house is actually quite nice. I have a bedroom to myself and although it only has a mattress for furniture, the walls and curtains are pretty colors and there is a glass doored closet in the corner which is great because I can put my pictures in it. We also have a sitting room and a nice little kitchen with a small fridge and stove (although no kitchen sink…) and one bathroom with a toilet in it and another with a tub and sink. I can’t get my mosquito net up, but the mosquitos themselves aren’t too big a problem, mostly I just need to be able to not think about the spider I saw in the corner earlier ☺
What I have seen of Uis thus far is mostly that it is small and in the middle of nowhere in the desert. The school where I will be seems really nice, but I'll let you know more about that after tomorrow!
Well I need to go to bed, big first day of school tomorrow, but I’ll probably be updating frequently since things are exciting and I’m going to be a little lonely. I also plan to put up pictures this weekend (internet is free from 1am to 5am so as soon as I can stay up that late!) so hopefully I can take some of my house and town before then. Call or email me please!
Ek mes jou (miss you!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Around Town

Goeie More!
This past week we have been back in Windhoek and have gotten to get out of our hostel a lot more. One day we took a driving tour of the city, which felt painfully touristy but was really interesting. Windhoek itself has a huge range of wealth we drove through Katatura which was the black section of the city during apartheid and some of the neighborhoods which are entirely composed entirely of houses made of tin. These areas are government sanctioned for settlement and many of them have latrines, water pumps, and schools set up. From there we went to the neighborhood with personal guards and multi-million (even in American money) dollar houses and we saw the new GIGANTIC state building, which has caused quite an uproar since it cost several billion dollars.
We also went to the embassy for our security briefing, which was mostly them trying to scare us into very responsible behaviors (which seems reasonable). The next day we also got to visit a New Start Clinic which is sponsored by USAID and does free, confidential HIV testing throughout the country. It is a very impressive program and they have trained counselors who try to use the test as an opportunity to talk about behavior change and offer emotional support. (For those who are wondering, if someone tests positive they can go to any state hospital and receive government paid for ARVs).
Lastly there has been lots of shopping in preparation for going to our sites on Monday. We went to EduMEDS, the big shop for teaching materials and it was lots of fun to get ideas and get excited about what we are going to do!

p.s. I was asked by a couple people how close Arandis and Swakupmund are and I’ve been told it’s about an hour and a half drive to Arandis and two to Swakup, but Swakup is a very big tourist town so it will hopefully be pretty easy to get there. I’ll let you know for sure when I get there myself though!

Language Classes

The highlight of our day for the past week has been language classes. Our big group is split into three smaller regional groups two of whom are learning different dialects of Oshiwambo and our group which got to speak africaans. The classes were an hour a day and our teachers, Lenga and Jackie, are so much fun. They are our age and we spend at least half of the class just laughing, although that might also be because the words sound so silly. Africaans itself basically sounds just like English with a weird accent (it’s not- it’s actually quite a bit more complicated, but that’s how it sounds). So here are a few key phrases, just in case you come visit ;)
Hoe gaan dit? (how are you?)
Goed en self? (Good, and you? Pronounced “hoot en self?”)
Waar es die winkel (where is the shop? Pronounced “var es dee venkel?”

Anyway… try saying these out loud and see if you don’t sound silly. We actually learned quite a bit and I’m excited to keep adding to my repetoire once I get to Uis, but we’re going to meet Lenga for lunch so it’s Lekker dag for now!

Ek es life fer you! (love you!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Last night we went to a traditional oshiwambo (tribe in the north) restaurant, so I thought this would be a good chance to talk about food! Mostly while being here we have eaten fairly American foods since we’re cooking for ourselves or have a caterer (lots of PB&J and chicken and rice) but we have had two good opportunities to try the food that is typical of this area. Last week we did homestays for one night and we cooked porridge which looks like mashed potatoes but is thick enough to pick up with your hands (which is how you should eat it, everyone will tell you it makes the food taste better!). You dip the porridge into a sauce which usually comes alongside chicken or meat. Last night we also had some cow intestines (pretty tasty but far far too chewy) and spinach and a drink made out of the same grain used to make the porridge. Mmm. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the porridge unless it’s drenched in sauce, but we’ll see if that changes over the year!

sidenote: pictures will be tricky since the internet payment here is by megabite and not by minute... it might take a while, but hopefully some will be up soon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Etosha National Park

For many of us, the highlight of our trip to the north was Etosha Game Park. We left at 6AM Sunday morning and for some reason when we got there, a man who works at the park offered to go with us as a guide for free, which was pretty incredible, particularly since he offered to take us places that are “staff only”.
It was AMAZING getting to just drive around and see animals in their natural habitat. It is so in the middle of the wild that you can’t get out of your cars anywhere in the park except the fenced in camp sites because you might get mauled. AWESOME. And we saw lots of animals: many many giraffes and zebras, wildebeests, a hyena eating a giraffe’s carcass was incredible to get to watch, all sorts of birds (including the kind that zazu from the lion king is modeled after), buzzards, kudu, dikdiks (which are like miniature antelope- the most adorable thing ever!), and oricks. I particularly liked the oricks, since they look like they’ve been painted and are gorgeous. We also saw them standing in front of the salt pan, so it looked just like some national geographic video and the guides got a kick out of my exclaiming, “Oh my gosh! Look at that, we’re in Africa!” Oh- and a zebra winked at me. No big deal. Also, I just want to go on the record saying that hyenas are huge. And terrifying. Disney has mislead me for many years.
Anyway so now we’re back in Windhoek for our last week before our sites, teasers for this week: we’re doing a driving tour of the capital, language lessons, and dinner at a nice, traditional restaurant. Hope you’re excited, I know I am!

Practice Teaching

This past week we traveled to Tsumeb, a town a few hours north of Windhoek so we could do our practice teaching, which consisted of us working with a partner to teach two 40 minute classes each morning. The idea is that we can see how things work in a Namibian classroom, try out some ideas and see what some of the challenges are going to be. And it turns out, this is a good idea. The first class went fine because we just drew pictures of ourselves and talked about them in English but the second class, which I wanted to do on a science topic did not go so well. In fact, it fell flat on its face. I had planned 40 minutes of lesson time but the students already knew what I would be teaching (it was 5th grade material and the students were all in 7th or 8th grade), so we finished in about 10 minutes and I was at a loss for where to go next.
Fortunately, it got better as the days went on. We only had 7 students and got to know them fairly well and getting class participation wasn’t quite like pulling teeth by the last day. We talked about the different parts of a story and had them write and illustrate stories and those were a lot of fun to read.
My partner was Sharon, the older woman in our group (who is from Dubuque and may have gone to school with Tricia’s aunt…). We had some frustrations because our teaching styles are very different: I tend to motivate by being super enthusiastic and she uses more of a grandmotherly coercing, but we learned a lot from each other and worked well together when we were actually in the classroom.

Answers to questions so far

I have decided to organize this blog more topically instead of entirely chronologically so it is in smaller more manageable chunks. Just as a heads up.
Namibia itself is very dry. The grasses and ground are very brown but there are green bushes and trees everywhere, just to confuse you. It pretty much looks like any other town except there are no skyscrapers and things tend to be pretty colorful. It has rained almost every day since we’ve been here, sometimes up to three times a day, but apparently that is pretty unusual. It cools things off though, which is nice. People are very friendly, we all like the guy who runs the hostel in Windhoek and made friends with our host families. There are lots of bugs, especially up north, and the mosquitos are vicious. Everyone speaks at least some English, but there is a very heavy accent that we sometimes have difficulty understanding. It’s pretty amusing because the volunteers from last year and our director have adopted accents that they use just when speaking to Namibians because it makes them easier to understand.
The warthogs and baboons hang out by the side of the road so that’s where we saw them. We saw them on the way from the Windhoek airport. Also the nearest people to me are in my region in the towns of Arandis and Swakupmund, so Dad you can mark those on the map ☺
Also I will post my address when I actually move to Uis because I want to make sure how it works.

more to come about the past week sometime soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hanging out in Windhoek

Hello and happy New Year! (NOTE PHONE NUMBER BELOW- you don't have to read all of this message but look for the number) Things have been busy since we got here on... Tuesday? It feels like it's been a lot longer than that. Our group has classes for most of the day, learning about culture, getting around, issues that might come up, and (mostly) how to teach. It is a lot of fun though, very interactive and the group is great. We're staying at a hostel called Backpackers and although we dominate the social scene there just by being such a big group, there are Namibians, Germans, and Norwegians also staying who tend to be quite chatty.
New Year's eve was a lot of fun here. We had a braai (a barbeque) and had some quite well done steak and Boervurst, which was delicious. I spent a lot of the night chatting with Jim and Sharon, the older couple in our group, and really enjoyed that. They have great stories and Jim and I definitely share the same sense of humor. I'm having a hard time being really outgoing in such a big group (shocking for me!) but I've gotten to know everyone at least a little and really feel like I click well with the two girls who will be in my region, which bodes well.
I find it amusing that we all get up at around 6:30 and tend to be in bed by 10. Granted it's because of the jet lag, but it's still pretty unusual for a group this age. Alright.. I'm finding it hard to tell you everything that happened so here are some bullet points of important information.
- MY PHONE NUMBER: I have a cell phone and to call me you dial 011-264-81-456-2991. I can also receive texts and I'm not charged if you call or text me (sorry to put the payment burden on you, but it really is much, much cheaper for you to call me). I've heard skype and phone cards are the best way to do it and if you have Verizon you can call and spend 20 minutes on the phone to get a free international texting option added to your plan. Call anytime but I'm most likely to answer between 6 and 10 PM for the next two weeks (remember I'm 7 hours ahead of NY, 8 of MN, and 9 of Denver) and I'll let you know beyond that time.
- Some of you will be pleased to know people here think I'm a game nut. I taught everyone literature and basically participate in board or card games whenever I can.
-Also, we played a game very similar to 10,000 questions. Awesome.
- I bought a device so I will have internet at my site (they said it would be easier to go to an internet cafe, but given that the closest town to me is two hours away I think this is a good option. I will be able to read emails and messages but probably won't check facebook too often or be able to download pictures/ attachments (unless they're important) or go to multimedia links, just fyi)
-We had mexican food last night! Not going to be a common occurrance, but still exciting.
- I haven't seen any spitting cobras yet (sigh of relief,mom) and we've been in the capital but I did see some warthogs and baboons on the way to the hostel.

Alright, I love and miss you all, please email me or reply to these posts, let me know if you have questions, and please feel free to call me!