Today is a very sad day for me, it is my last day on the job as an intern at the Center for global education, Namibia. It was a real honor working with a team that is very committed to a course of social justice and equality for everyone. I can definitely say with confidence that I’m a different individual than I was when I first started working for this organization. Looking back, I can say that I enjoyed attending classes with all the CGE students meeting all the guest speakers and getting to know all staff at the Center. In essence being at this organization changed my perception of the world around me.
Its so funny and strange that it feels like yesterday, when I was attending a team building retreating with the staff and students and now I’m sitting here with a very heavy heart, hesitantly saying goodbye. Even though I’m saying bye to the organization and to the dedicated team that works at this organization, my heart will remain at this organization.
I am deeply going to miss everyone in this organization……so here it goes, farewell Center for global education.
I still remember so vividly in my mind welcoming the students to Namibia on the 29th of January, 2014.And now it feels so strange to have to say goodbye to everyone that I learned to love so much and I have grown used to always having around over the past months that they have been in Windhoek,Namibia. Last week marked the end of the journey for the CGE students in Namibia. They spent most of the week wrapping up classes and preparing for their integrative Projects presentation. The presentations were hosted at the American cultural centre.
The integrative projects had a good mix of game boards,videos and art exhibition. The presentation were filled with a lot of exciting and interesting view points on subjects matters affecting social change and equality in the Namibian society. Later that day the students hosted a dinner for the CGE staff, to show appreciation for the support and the guidance they provided to them throughout their stay here in Namibia. Everybody at the dinner was given the opportunity to say a few things about their experience at the CGE house in Windhoek, and also to tell everyone what they were mostly thankful about. It was a very emotional night, tears and sadness were the order of the night, as every word uttered at the dinner table was a reminder to everyone present of the inevitable departure of the students back to their homes.
The students left Namibia for Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday. I knew right from the start that, their stay here in Namibia was not a permanent one but knowing this, did not give me any type of comfort whatsoever. It hurt so much that it brings tears to my eyes to even think of the words goodbye. I can only wish them luck in all their endeavors and hope that our paths in life will one day bring us together. But until then….so long my people and thank you for coming to Namibia.
Over a couple of weeks ago, we asked the CGE;Southern African students in Namibia, what they understand by the terminology decolonizing the mind and what type of imagery is painted in their minds when they hear these words.This is what they said.
“I think, it is empowering citizens of a country which were once colonized to be free from foreign exploitation, either economic or psychological, so that they are able to be self-sufficient and successful via their own personal volition.”
“I think decolonizing the mind is a concept that deals with the residual effects of colonization. Shivute told us that the first thing colonial powers had to do was convince the colonized population that they are inferior; before people’s action can be controlled, their minds had to be the initial site of colonization. They had to make them believe that there was a good reason for things being the way they were.Decolonizing the mind is then the process that has to happen after the formal colonization has been removed.Its very hard to change patterns of thinking and perception which is why decolonizing the mind is a process that is still relevant”.
“Decolonizing the mind means freeing not only the
physical and informal constraints which restrict a person or society but breaking down more subtle mental barriers which may be difficult to define or even see. To decolonize the mind is to eliminate the final and arguably , the strongest hold that a subjugator has.”
“I thinking decolonizing the mind is about realizing what stereotypes and stigmas you have against people and trying to change your mindset”.
“Decolonizing the mind is breaking the barriers that you have created in your mind about certain cultures. Allowing yourself to be influenced by new surroundings.”
“Decolonizing the mind is conscientiously transcending the mental barriers and insecurities that often result from a people’s colonization,achieved through critical thinking and analysis of events.”
“Decolonizing the mind is to step back from an environment entrenched in colonialism in order to critically examine and question the current institutions and practices that may be in place due to a past colonial rule and mindset.”
“Decolonizing the mind means freeing yourself of preconceived notions and stereotypes so that you allow yourself to fully experience the world around you.”
“Decolonizing the mind is abolishing a perspective or mindset by looking at a society with a different attitudes or point of view usually from the colonized rather than the colonizer.”
“Decolonizing the mind means deconstructing the inferior mindsets of the colonized and the superior mindsets of the colonizer.”
“Decolonizing the mind is turning people away from the stereotypes that they have, and opening their mind to more possibilities.”
“Decolonizing the mind means taking a critical look at your privilege and the ways in which that privilege has come to be.It’s about realizing that assumptions are continuously made and if you don’t take the time to deconstruct those assumptions and ask where they come from then you’re perpetuating the same attitudes and ideas that systematically oppress.”
Each week at CGE: Southern Africa, students come together for a community meeting. We check in with each other emotionally, give important announcements, and discuss the positive and negative aspects of living in community as a whole group. It is one of the most important aspects of our living-learning community that enables students from diverse backgrounds and beliefs to live and study together for the semester. At the end of the student-led sessions, we have fun activities that can involve snacks, movie nights, games, or any number of other options.
This week was an Easter Egg Hunt set up by community leaders Gena, Kelsey, and Matt. Each week different students lead the meetings. Each of the 59 eggs had a number 1-5. Each number corresponded to a type of candy. Whoever found the egg could claim their prize. Happy Easter everyone!
Last week Thursday the center for global education was graced with the presence of a very special individual, Dr. Deborah Robinson. Dr. Robinson is from the United States, she initiated the South African Political prisoner bracelet program to build ties between individuals in the United states and prisoners serving life sentences in South Africa during the Apartheid era.
Dr. Robinson is currently visiting South Africa and Namibia to interview the families of some of these Political prisoners about the impact of the bracelets on their lives. Dr. Robinson visited the center for global education with one of the daughters of a political prisoner from Namibia, Ndilipo Shikomba. Ndilipo Shikomba emailed Dr. Robinson after she had came across her website about two years ago, but unfortunately they lost contact with one another, that is up until January of this year when they regained that contact with one another. It was during that time that Dr. Robinson decided to visit Namibia to meet Ndilipo Shikomba for the very first time. Ndilipo was very adamant about meeting Dr. Robinson that she was prepared to take a week from her place of employment to accommodate Dr. Robinson’s visit to Namibia.
Later that day, it was time for the CGE staff and students to go to the Nubuamis hills for the mid-semester reconnection session. This session was aimed at bringing everybody at the CGE house in Windhoek, at the same page after a spring break The reflection session took a good mix of a warm up activity,dish of snacks, some fun activities, where people had a chance to show off their acting skills. The reconnection session was ended with brief reflection of the achievement and challenges faced by the staff and the students through this semester, then it was time to return home.
Two weeks ago, the cge students returned from their rural homestays in the northern parts of the Namibia and from their spring break.The students were put into different households, with different host families.This whole rural homestay experiences is meant to expose the students to a lifestyle which they may not be with familiar with.
A lot of Namibians still inhabit the rural space of the country, and they still lead a very simple lifestyle of working the land and living off what they produce. The rural homestay, all in all is suppose to paint a picture for the students that will show them the family structure of the rural inhabitants,the type of activities they do on a daily bases,the challenges they face on a daily bases and also show them how they manage to live a content life even with these challenges at hand.
The student lived with their host parents for about a week, during which they learnt how to harvest mopane worms, they also learnt how to build houses from dung,they visited the damara living museum,as well as, the baobab tree.It was kind of difficult for them to adjust from life in Windhoek to life in the rural parts of Namibia but they managed to make the transition as they started to settle in with their host families and it was an incredible learning experience for all the students.
After spending a week with the host families in Khorixas, it was time for the students to go to Etosha national park to see the beauty of the Namibian wildlife and do a little camping.From the Etosha national park the students, on the own embarked on an excursion, which saw them travelling to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana for about a week.
With only 24 years of political emancipation the Namibian government has accomplished a lot, even though they still have a long way to go, as far as, the gap between the rich and the poor in the country is concerned.The CGE staff in Windhoek, Namibia, would like to wise the Namibian public a very happy 24th independence anniversary celebration and may Namibia continue to be a very peaceful nation with habitants who are respectful and mindful of one another.
Namibia has seen an alarming increase in gender based violence, especially that committed against women over the recent years. Most of these injustices against women have been attributed to the loss of cultural practises amongst the youth which have amounted to the decay of morals according to traditional leaders and some political leaders.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the International women’s day, the ministry of gender equality and child welfare in Namibia, in attempt to raise awareness of this gender based violence called “passion killing” in Namibia, organized a march from its offices to the zoo park, which saw hundreds of men in high heels in protest against the violent attacks and killing of women.
Center for global education’s very own students also took part in the activities. It was a meaning experience them to see the community come together and fight for this cause. The march was a very imperative move in getting both women and men to fight as community that respect all human life and to uproot this terrible evil we call “passion killing”.Getting men involved in an activities like this is the first step in trying to combat the senseless killing of women.
Over a week or so the CGE students visited the Heroes Acre, which is a national monument, built for the sole purpose of commemorating the fallen heroes and heroins, who gave their lives in order for the Namibian nation to be free from colonial and apartheid oppression.
The Heroes Acre is place where the pioneers and key drivers of the Namibian independence are put to rest after they have passed on to the next life.It is built in a way that tells the story of the plight and struggles experienced by the people of Namibia before they procured their independence from the colonial and apartheid administration. It also shows and project the way forward for the Namibian people by having a eternal burning fire, which is symbolic to eternal solidarity amongst fellow Namibians, regardless of race, ethnic group,gender and sex.To ensure the protection of the Heroes Acre, the Namibian government has entrusted the Namibian defence force to safe guard the premises on a 24/ 7 bases from vandalism and all intentions involving the destruction of this national monument.
The heroes acre also has a restaurant where people can enjoy meals when important events, such as the heroes day is being commemorated on the 4th of May. The students were taken by the beauty of the graves and the mountains surrounding the heroes acre which gives it a very natural and calming environment.
The students were taken through a simultaneous process of learning about the history of this freedom fighters, as well as, going through individual graves and admiring the beautiful handy work of the craftsman represented by the gravestones.The walk to the top of the hill was a little challenging, but we eventually got there.
Although the visit to the heroes acre may have revealed controversial information about this monument ,one can not help it but note , how much the students learned from this experience.
The Center for Global Education in Windhoek, Namibia offers a summer session called Social Change and Development in Southern Africa. The program focuses on development and social change in Southern Africa and provides students with a holistic approach that includes travel, guest speakers, internships, and more traditional lecture-style classes.
Past students have been impacted in a number of ways. Summer 2012 participant Lexie Mastro shared this about how her experience was transformative:
“I absolutely loved the Namibia summer program. Not only was I able to learn about social development and change in many different facets, but I was able to have a meaningful learning experience in and out of the classroom… It helped me as a student to put my own priorities in order. When I came back from my meaningful experience abroad it made me reassess what it really is that I want out of my experience as a student [at my home college]. After learning a great deal about social development and change, I wanted to be a champion for social justice and advocate through my daily activities. I was able to help form a CRS Ambassador group here at Gannon University, and now do advocacy for Fair Trade, Human Trafficking, Water and Food Security, and help with the CRS Rice Bowls fundraiser for global poverty.”
Another Summer 2012 participant, Angela Bonfiglio, told us this about the program itself:
“I loved the program because I was in such a supportive setting, from the staff, to the internship site, to the homestay… CGE really gives you great opportunity to build personal connections with people in the community so you really get a broader perspective… At the Namibian Women’s Health Network, I was able to work on a number of different projects that I was able to follow the progress when I returned and see the greater impact of what my organization was doing.”