Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring break on the coast...

So, I have returned from spring break in Swakopmund, Namibia. If you've been reading my blog thus far, you shall see that I have been to Swakopmund one other time, earlier in the semester. Me and two other girls returned to the coast for break this week, and couldn't be happier that we did! Basically, it was a week of relaxation, which was sorely needed by the end of our trip to the north.

To get to Swakopmund without Passat (tear), we took Town Hoppers Shuttle Service, which is basically a fourteen passenger van, tightly packed with tourists to the coast. Although we didn't have much space, we had some really awesome talking time, to the discomfort of many of our fellow passengers. We arrived in Swakopmund later that night, and settled in to our living space, the Municipal Bungalows. It was AWESOME. Basically, they have lots of A-frame bungalows, but we were actually in our own little house! We had two bedrooms for the three of us, a little kitchen with a nook, a toilet and a bathroom. It was SO nice after doing lots of camping and staying in bungalows in Etosha where we had separate bathrooms and toilets from our sleeping area. Throughout the week, we ate out at a bunch of different restaurants (DELICIOUS coast food), bought way too many gifts for all of you at home, and basically spent way too much money. But it was a BLAST.

One of the best things that we did during the week was volunteer at an organization called Mondesa Youth Opportunities (MYO). I think I talked about it in my last post about Swakop, but I'll write about it again. During apartheid, Mondesa was one of the townships where they forcibly moved all of the blacks from the area, moving them out of town and in to substandard housing, all together. Today, Mondesa continues to be dominated by the black community of Swakopmund, while the residential areas closer to town and in town itself are predominantly white. While things are getting a little better, things like housing and the education system in Namibia in general is still pretty poor. MYO is an organization that brings students from the government schools to an afterschool program where they take more classes to better prepare them for the world after secondary school, whether it be a university or a job. Now, I definitely have some issues with a program that only takes what they deem to be the most "promising" of the students from the government schools, but our tour guide gave us her reasons for that requirement. MYO has a very limited budget, mainly based on individual donations, and they don't necessarily have the funds to deal with students who need more help. It is an interesting issue, but a place that is definitely doing good for a lot of the students from the government schools in Mondesa. We volunteered there for a couple of days during the week. They had just received a PeaceCorps volunteer for two years, and they had us helping out a bit. I got to play volleyball for two hours with the sports class! It was so much fun. One of the other girls worked in the library, reorganizing some of their books, and another sat in on the dance and music class to get some information for her internship. It was a lot of fun, just hanging out with the kids on our break.

One of the best moments that I had there happened before we even got started. We got out of the taxi in the middle of Mondesa, and had no idea where we were going. We started out walking in one direction, past towards homes and schools, and could not find MYO. However, we did find a secondary school, so the two other girls went inside to ask where we could find the program, because it is connected to schools. I was standing outside talking to a few kids, when out walks Holland and Nathalie (the two other girls with me from CGE) and a huge group of kids, walking to MYO now that school was out! They offered to walk us to the program. It was awesome, just to talk to them about what they loved about school, what their favorite subjects were, and much more about education from their point of view. It was so great!

Anyway, that was basically our trip. All of your gifts are coming from Swakopmund, because I cleaned out all of the stores there. Just so ya know! Miss you all so much!! LOVE LOVE LOVE.

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