This weekend we all met up in Tsumeb-- all of the current volunteers, Jocie, and a couple extenders-- for an informal mini reunion. The trip here was rather uneventful, I got a ride with a man working in Uis who told me all about his marital problems for the 3 hours we were together. He was actually quite nice and had pretty good English, so it was an enjoyable trip.
I was the first to arrive, after Jocie, so she and I got some time to chat, which was pleasant. Then I became the official greeting party because everyone got a very enthusiastic (and sincere!) hug when they came in. All but 4 people came Friday night (the other four camped in a national park and joined us Saturday) and we had a nice dinner at a local hotel.
Most of the weekend was spent just sitting around and chatting. Saturday we did a shopping trip to stock up on groceries and other necessities, we played cards and ate and drank. Some of us stayed up until 2:30 each night, but the weekly schedule has everyone so messed up that most people were up and around by 8:30 in the morning too.
It was really fun just to share stories and hear how everyone is doing. It’s amazing to me that most of us have very similar teaching experiences—the same frustrations with discipline, language, and motivation and the same love and passion for teaching and the kids themselves. It was comforting to share horror stories, ideas, and strategies. But at the same time everyone’s living situations are totally different. The people in the north could be in a completely different country, the cultures are so different. All of them live in villages of mud huts, they have taxis that go everywhere, they get lots of rain and are treated very differently by the people around them. Some volunteers have friends and socialize all the time, some are more like me and feel very isolated. One other vol and I spent a long time talking since he’s having very similar experiences to me- he’s in the same size town, has kids constantly at his door, but feels like the adults don’t really want to talk to him.
This morning was full of sad goodbyes and some fast food breakfast. People started trickling out in groups of 3 or 4 as early as 9AM and I will probably be the last to leave, since I’m sitting at the hostel waiting for the same man who drove me here to call and say it’s time to go. It was hard to say goodbye after a weekend of me constantly looking around in amazement at the realization of how much I really LIKE these people and how well they get me, but I’m feeling energized (mentally if not physically…) and the knowledge that with the independence holiday and easter coming up, I will see them again soon.