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Student Ambassador: Vera in Southern Africa!

This is a guest post by CGEE Social Media Ambassador, Vera Grace. Vera is studying abroad in South Africa and Namibia on our program, “Decolonizing the Mind: Racial and Environmental Justice” during the fall 2022 semester. 

Since departing from our two-week seminar in South Africa in late August, I have officially been in Namibia for a month and 15 days now and have truly come to understand and appreciate the culture here! After adjusting to my initial culture shock, I have learned how to face challenges that have taught me about not only Namibian society, but about myself and my own values. 

Two students stand with their hands in the heart shape in front of a heart sign that reads I Love WindhoekOne of my favorite things about the program is that we get to take classes entirely focused on Namibian society, while also acclimating to the new environment as residents. It is a truly unforgettable gift to be studying multiple different angles into what life is like in Namibia, while also experiencing it first-hand! This semester, I am taking four classes: History of Racism and Resistance, Environment & Sustainability, Political and Social Change, and an Internship Seminar, all having to do with the region of Southern Africa and Namibia. These are the focused angles that I’ve been studying to understand Namibian life, but there are also two other classes offered that cover aspects of Religion and Development in Namibia, which I am able to sit in on and learn from even without needing to take the classes for credit. The guest speakers, class excursions, and in-person experiences we’ve been having for class sessions have left such a lasting impact on me that have immeasurably impacted my overall experience in amazing ways! 

As part of the CGEE program, I am taking the Internship Seminar class that is offered and have been partnered with Hope Initiatives Southern Africa – Namibia (HISA) to work as an Education Intern and Teaching Assistant. The main part of the class is to complete direct service hours with the organization, and I have been learning so much from working there and working in their classrooms, especially about what life is like for young children who live in the settlements! The non-governmental organization provides daily meals to local children, classes for young students K-8, after school tutoring, parental training for families, gender-based violence workshops for the community, and even gardening classes at an on-site garden that they take care of; they truly serve as an all-around community center for one of the informal settlement villages located outside of the city of Windhoek. 

A particular memory that has really stayed with me, and has become one of my most cherished since arriving in Namibia, was from a recent event at my internship! To celebrate the National Day of the Namibian Child, HISA organized a full-day event of activities for youth in the area. In the morning, children from around the settlement came to HISA’s center to play games, spend time with each other, and share a meal! In the afternoon, HISA organized a fundraising modeling event that young girls had been preparing and rehearsing for, for weeks. After having seen all the work they had put in, it was so exciting to see them walk confidently in front of their friends and speak up about the issues that they care about. It was a really special event that I got to be a part of and share with the kids in the community. The experience made me feel so welcomed here and also brought me much closer to my coworkers and students at HISA, making it truly unforgettable and special!

Thank you to Vera, for sharing your thoughts and reflections into the first half of the program! To follow Vera and all of CGEE’s content, check us out at Instagram and Tiktok at AugsburgCGEE. 

@augsburgcgee Vera here, a student from CGEE in Southern Africa, Namibia! This week, our Environment and Sustainability class took our learning outside the classroom and visited Na’ankusê Wildlife Sanctuary, 40 minutes outside of Windhoek, to learn about the animals they care for and their environmentally-sustainable practices! #augsburgcgee#southernafrica#namibia#studyabroad#wildlife#myristorantecreation ♬ Canyons – Official Sound Studio