22 November 2011

Setswana Grammar Lesson: Go Loma

Your grammar lesson for today starts with a sentence:

Ka Saturday, ke lomilwe ke ntsha.

Let's break it down.

Ntsha - dog  (nn-cha)
Go loma - to bite  (ho loh-mah)
Ntsha e loma - the dog bites  (nn-cha ay loh-mah)
Ntsha e ntoma - the dog bites me  (nn-cha ay nn-toe-mah)
Ntsha e lomile - the dog bit  (nn-cha ay loh-me-lay)
Ntsha e ntomile - the dog bit me  (nn-cha ay nn-toe-me-lay)
Ke lomilwe - I was bitten  (kay loh-meal-way)
Ke lomilwe ke ntsha - I was bitten by a dog  (kay loh-meal-way kay nn-cha)


Ka Saturday, ke lomilwe ke ntsha


On Saturday, I was bitten by a dog.

Excellent work, class.

(...Don't worry, the dog had its rabies shot and I am healing very nicely!)

13 November 2011

Daniel and Tess Photo Montage

Did you think Daniel and I didn't take any pictures together in Namibia?!  Here they are:

Swakopmund, Namibia

I recently returned from a vacation with nine of my closest friends to Swakopmund, Namibia, a quaint tourist town on the coast of the Atlantic OceanNamibia was colonized by Germany, and the German influence is still present in the architecture, cuisine, and general way of life.

Wide boulevards

Not a great picture, but in the background
you can see the desert meeting the ocean
Mural wall

My favorite mural
It was a long trip consisting of buses and rental cars, but it proved to be worth it.  We rented two houses at Swakopmund Municipal Rest Camp, which came with an outdoor braai (barbecue) and an ocean view. 

Rental cars

House we rented

Ocean view from our porch

The main thing we did was eat delicious food.  Every morning I started my day with a large coffee and delicious German pastries at Raith’s CafĂ© and Gellateria.

Gellateria and Cafe

We found a little pizzeria that made thin-crust pizza and ended up eating there twice.

For our first nice dinner, we made reservations at a restaurant called Brauhaus, which serves authentic German cuisine.  It was my first time trying German food and I loved it!  It was a meal fit for kings and I was so full I could barely walk out of the restaurant.

Ladies dressed up for dinner

The girls took one afternoon and went off shopping.  There were a lot of cute boutiques to look through.  I found one jewelry and craft store in particular that I loved, and I picked out several necklaces and rings I wanted to buy for friends back home.  My plan was to return to the shop on Saturday and use whatever Namibian dollars I had left to buy souvenirs.  Imagine my surprise when I get to the store at 2:30 PM and everything is closed!  Apparently all stores in Swakopmund close at 1:00 PM on the weekends – except for grocery stores and bars/restaurants.  I wish I had known that before it was too late.

Of course, we went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.  The water was very cold, but since I grew up on Lake Ontario it didn’t seem that bad to me.  What can I say about the ocean?  It's amazing.  I would be a mermaid and live in the ocean if that was an option.

We also got to watch the sun set over the Atlantic, which was very beautiful.  We went to Tiger Reef Bar, right on the beach, for sundowners.

Balcony view of the sunset

My friends Lindsey, Jen, and Nicole
Heidi and me
Heidi and me playing in the ocean one last time

Out on the jetty (or pier) there is a sushi restaurant called Jetty 1901.  There are glass panels in the floor so it looks as if you’re standing on the ocean.  We all went to sushi “happy hour,” where one roll cost only 20 Namibian dollars (less than 3 USD).  Before this, I had only eaten vegetable sushi, but at happy hour I tried different tuna and salmon rolls.  Turns out, my favorite was a salmon roll that also had fish eggs on it.  Sounds gross, but it was actually delicious!

Restaurant on the end of the jetty
Walkway to the restaurant

I'm the one with hot pink toenails, duh.
Another great meal we had was braai-ing (or barbecuing) fresh fish from the local fish market.  The boys bought the fish already gutted and salted, then wrapped it in tin foil with butter, garlic, and lemon.  We put it on the grill for awhile and voila! the most delicious fish I have ever eaten.  It was so good (and we had so much) that for dinner the next night we made fish tacos.

Fish on the braai
Always date a man who can cook

Waiting for dinner


To appease the daredevil in all of us, the whole group went quad biking in the desert, but that will be a blog post of its own.

All in all it was a wonderful trip.  When I got back to work, everyone complimented me on how happy and refreshed I looked, and it’s true.  An ocean-side getaway is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Being silly

A wave took us by surprise!

Taking a shopping break to meet up for drinks

The closest we got to a "nice" picture of all the guys

See how happy the ocean makes me

11 November 2011

Condom Demonstrations

My big project for this last term has been doing condom demonstrations in all of the classrooms.  I luckily got in touch with a woman who works with the District Health Team in Molepolole (my district’s main village) and she hooked me up with a model penis, model vagina, and male and female condoms to use in the demonstrations.

Once I had the supplies, I got right to work.  There are seventeen classes at my school (meaning close to 700 students) and I needed at least two periods with each class.  Due to other projects I was working on, it wasn’t as simple as just going to all the guidance classes.  I had to figure out when I would be at school and when I would make up any classes I missed, as well as working around different examinations given by the school.  Also, the schedule has up to three guidance classes during the same period, despite the fact that we have only one guidance teacher.  Go figure.

For the male condom, my counterpart and I made signs with each of the steps to using a condom on them.  One side had English, and one had Setswana.  I was adamant about teaching this in Setswana, because incorrect condom use is a common occurrence.  We would have eight students come up and give them the signs randomly, and they had to work together to put the signs in the correct order.  I definitely have not reached fluency, but I think now knowing how to explain condom use ka Setswana is a good start.

After initially learning the steps, I would go over them again while demonstrating using a condom and the model penis.  (I taught over a constant stream of giggles – mostly from the boys, ironically enough.)  I would then have one boy and one girl demonstrate, although if no one volunteered, I didn’t push it.  It was really important to me to create a safe, comfortable environment so kids will stop being so scared to talk about sex and ask those really important questions.

And boy, do the kids have questions.  It was wonderful to see them opening up to me, and to know that I was helping to dispel some common myths.  Some things the students believe I expected to hear – condoms aren’t reliable, real men don’t use condoms, if you use a condom you won’t feel anything.  But other myths are truly astounding – condoms have worms in them that make you sick, the U.S. sends over condoms with HIV in it to try to wipe out African races, if you have sex with a girl on her period her vagina will bite you.

The following class I demonstrated how to use the female condom, which also got plenty of laughs.  Although I don’t believe many women use the female condom, there is a lot of interest in it, which is great.  I didn’t have enough female condoms for any students to also try, so after demonstrating and having a Q&A session we discussed different forms of birth control.

Most students had heard of the condoms, the pill, IUD, and injections (and, of course, abstinence).  Interestingly, almost every class also offered sterilization as a method of birth control.  While that’s true, I thought it was strange that students so young would have sterilization on the forefront of their minds.

We then reviewed bad forms of birth control, many of which the students believe to be effective:
  • “Pulling out,” or withdrawing before ejaculation
  • Having sex during the woman’s menstruation cycle
  • “Safe period,” which means having sex during the five days after a woman menstruates.  They believe that since the woman is not ovulating, there is a zero percent chance of her getting pregnant, and this is taught in science classes.  I emphasized that while it is not likely, it is still a possibility, and condoms/birth control should still be used.
  • Sex positions – i.e. if a woman is on top, gravity will keep the sperm from reaching the egg
  • Different methods from traditional doctors

It was encouraging to see how engaged some of the students were.  It made me feel as if I actually was making a difference in their lives, and that being informed will help at least a few students make better choices.  After a year and a half of ambiguous reporting to Peace Corps, it’s a great feeling to know I have solid numbers (I’ve reached 680 youth this quarter!) to send to Washington, D.C.

More than just helping the students, it was a small epiphany for myself.  I loved doing these classes, and I’m already in the process of putting together sex education curriculum for next year.  After feeling somewhat irrelevant for a lot of my service, I’m getting excited again, and perhaps my interest and passion can guide my career choices when I get home in June.