Monday, May 9, 2011

The Oshilumbu (White Persron) makes it to site

It’s been a few weeks since I have posted anything so I’m not sure what the last thing I wrote about was, but either way my life hasn’t been all that exciting since the last post. I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer about 4-5 weeks ago. Following the swearing in ceremony, the procedure is to move to site and start your Peace Corps service. But like everything in my life, things were not that easy for me. Since the north saw a record amount of rain fall which in turn created massive flooding, I was unable to go to my permanent site and had to be relocated to the capital city, Windhoek, where I stayed for several weeks.
Many of my friends in my group were jealous of me and thought that this was some sort of vacation and that I was so lucky to be relocated to the nice city of Windhoek. While I might have had hot water and daily showers to use, that was the only lucky part of my relocation. I was forced to spend money that I didn’t really have on food that I didn’t really want.  Along with expensive meals it was 4 weeks of boredom and hours upon hours of card playing with two other volunteers who were also in the same situation. 
Finally, after about 6 weeks of being a refugee in Namibia, I got the call that I was cleared to go to my site and start my service. I arrived to Oshikuku this past Friday and moved into a house with a new host family where I will hopefully only be living for a short period of time. I am currently house hunting for my own residence but until then I will be living with a retired teacher. School doesn’t come back from holiday until May 16th so I have a few days of touring the bustling village of Oshikuku and getting to know the very interesting residents that it has. 
The second day of me arriving to Oshikuku, I found out that my supervisor was planning a welcome party for me, where I would have the chance to meet most of the people in the village. That night I travelled down to a bar that my supervisor owns where he had a stage set up and several local bands and rappers scheduled to perform for me and the village. Before I had left to go to the party I was pretty scared of being the only oshilumbu (white person) in the crowd, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and squashed any doubts I might have had about being able to mentally do this for two years.
Besides the exciting party there really is not much going on for me until school starts. I found out that I will be teaching 15-18 classes for this term. The subjects included English, Life Skills, and BIS. BIS is a simple class that teaches students about computers and how to use a library…might sound strange that kids need to know how to “use” a library but since these kids have never been in a library it may be a useful thing for them to know if ever given the chance.
I know that some may be wanting to see pictures..of Oshikuku and what not, so I will try to be better about the picture taking and see what I can do….sorry mom….but until next time I guess that is all.


Friday, April 15, 2011

And the rain keeps coming...........

Since my last post, a lot of things have happened. About three weeks ago I went on my site visit to see where I will be living and working for the next two years. The town I will be living in is called Oshikuku, which is in the Omusati Region of Namibia. I met my supervisor, Ndilipo, a day before departing to Oshikuku and the following day we drove the 8 hours up north to Oshikuku. On the drive up, it was the first time I got to see some true African wildlife. (Giraffes, elephants, and some crazy looking monkeys)
While my supervisor and I were driving up to my site, he began to inform me about the record breaking amount of rain fall that has been occurring in the north and that I should prepare myself for some flooding. Now, I thought that flooding in the states and flooding in Namibia wouldn’t be much different from each other, but it is very different. The problem with the flooding in Namibia is, people are extremely stubborn and do not want to leave their housing, the housing the people are living in is made of tin, and sewage is leaking into the flood waters in which people are walking through and catching/eating fish from. Fortunately for me Oshikuku does not flood as much as the surrounding towns so I was safe from water the first two days.
The town of Oshikuku was just declared a town last December; prior to being declared a town it was called a village. Now being a town it has a fairly good grocery store and a clothing store as well. What is nice about the town is that it’s pretty easy to get a hike to and from if I wanted to leave for a weekend. The school I will be working for is Nuukata Primary School, which has around 600 enrolled students, ranging from age 5 to age 14. I will be teaching English, Life skills, and hopefully some sort of after school HIV/AIDS awareness club. I think that the first major project I will have is to complete the school’s library/computer lab, that for the past year, has halted its construction. After sitting down with the staff, they would really like the library to be finished and working by the end of this year. There is still plenty of work that needs to be finished (about $20,000Namibian dollars worth of work) and books and computers still need to be found (donated). It’s a pretty big challenge but I would rather have a project to keep me busy with then to have nothing at all to do.
So site visit was planned to last from Friday to the following Thursday but as usual with me and my bad luck, the rain and flooding increased and Peace Corps decided that evacuating all volunteers from my region was the best decision. So on Monday, while I was at school, my supervisor for Peace Corps called me and told me that they have decided to pull me out early from site visit and that I needed to go to a hotel that was about an hour way from where I was. Ndilipo decided that he would drive me to the hotel, and after saying goodbye to several hundred students, I headed to the hotel.
Now on the way to the hotel I had to pass through some really bad flooding, that if I would have stayed at site, I am not sure if I could have left that Thursday because the water was flowing over the road. But we did make it eventually to the hotel where I was greeted by about 25 other Peace Corps volunteers who had also been evacuated from their sites (I was the only one who was on site visit and still in training). I stayed at the hotel for two nights and then Peace Corps drove me back to Okahandja to finish out the rest of my training.
The following 3 weeks of training went on as usual, the rain in the north kept falling, and the flooding kept rising. This past Thursday was the day that all of us in training had been waiting for-- The SWEARINg- IN CEREMONY!!! This was the day when I officially went from being a Peace Corps trainee to a Peace Corps Volunteer, and when my 2 year service officially begins. The ceremony was a lot of fun. We had choir that sang for us, the U.S. Ambassador for Namibia came, and many other important guests that are a part of Peace Corps Namibia. After the ceremony a few of us decided to take one last hike up the mountain where it all started for us.
Now usually immediately after the ceremony or the following day, the new volunteers depart and move to their official site. But because of the flooding, I am not allowed to go to Oshikuku for at least another two weeks. So while I leave all my luggage with my host family in Okahandja, I will stay a week in the capital, Windhoek, where I will attend a male engagement seminar. If at the end of the first week Peace Corps still believes it is still not ok to go to site, then I will go to another volunteer’s site where I will live with them until I get the all clear to go to Oshikuku. Until then, I’m going to live it up in the capital where I will have free food and hot showers every day. Not much complaining can be had so for now, all is well.
My new address is (which hopefully is my permanent address unless the flood changes things again for me)

Brandon Plocinski-Nuukata Primary School
P.O. Box 5155
Oshikuku, Namibia

Until next time………

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I'M HALF WAY DONE WITH TRAINING!!!!!...this past month of my life

So I haven’t written one of these blogs yet, and since family and friends keep asking me to start doing a blog I figured I should get on the band wagon. So here is my blog. For those that don’t know I am in Namibia, Africa working with Peace Corps doing HIV/AIDS awareness work. Since arriving in Namibia, I started out living at a training center in the city of Okahandja, which was like club med. It was a very nice place to stay at, hence why we called it club med or Peace Corps Med. They provided us with breakfast, lunch, and dinner….and lets not forget about tea times which were basically another meal. After a week of living at the training center I was introduced to my host family, who I have been living with for the past four weeks and will continue to live with until I move to my permenant site on April 15th.
My host family is a pretty interested group of family members who, when all together, are an awesome family. There is my meme (mother), who is a kindergarten teacher. Her kindergarten class is attached to our house, so every morning I am greeted by a bunch of little ones who cling onto my legs and go for rides as I walk to the bus stop. I have three sisters, Helena (the oldest-18 yrs old), Mary (16 yrs old), and Salmi (15 yrs old). The three girls are a lot to handle sometimes but they are a great help to me when it comes to learning the language. (the language I am learning is Oshidonga) The final family member is Nicky, which if I had to play favorites, he is my favorite. He is the only boy in the family, and he is 13 yrs old. Me and him have been buddies since the beginning, which is good because he always tells me how he likes it when there is another guy in the house. We play a lot of games together and I teach him a lot about american culture because he says that one day he wants to move to america.
So the language I am learning is called Oshidonga. I wish I could say that it’s a lot like English, but unfortuntely for me, that is not the case. I am slowly learning the language which tends to be frustrating since last week I had my first midterm exam. The midterm exam went as expected for me, which for those of you who know how I am when it comes to learning a new language will know that it didn’t go so well. I have four weeks to improve my language skills which hopefully I can do.
As of Thursday, I finally learned where I will be living for the next two years. After I officially swear in to Peace Corps in four weeks, I will be moving up North to OshiKuku. That is about a seven hour drive from where I am currently. From what I hear it is a nice small town, only 20 mins away from the biggest city in the North. I will be working at  a primary school, where I will be teaching a life skills class. That is basically all the information I get for now until I swear in. Peace Corps keeps things pretty tight to the belt until your actually at site and at your job. This coming Thursday I will have the chance to meet my supervisor and then on Friday I will be doing a site visit where I will be staying at my site for five days. After that I come back to Okahandja where I finish out my training.
Let me just say that for those of you who are thinking about joining Peace Corps  or even for those of you who have joined Peace Corps but have not left yet……TRAINING IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR SERVICE!!!!! I was told this about 100 times when I first stepped off the plane in Namibia but I didn’t truly believe it until this past week. This past week has been specially difficult for me and when I finally realized that it will only get better from here I had a “break through.” The up’s and down’s I have already experienced in the past five weeks has been pretty crazy, but I am enjoying every minute of it and can’t wait to actually start my 2 year service. So there is my life summed up in a few short paragraphs so far…..I hope your happy mom because this post is dedicated to you. And on a side not, if you send me a care package please send me some Reese’s. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One month away

So here I am about one month from moving to Namibia, Africa. It still hasn't seem to hit me yet that I am moving to Africa, a place that I have wanted to go to for many years now and finally it seems that it's going to happen. The thing that has been stressing me out the most, oddly enough, is packing. I have been trying to see what others have taken but it still is hard to pack for two years!
It's funny, every time I talk to a friend or family member about leaving they always ask me about how excited I must be and nervous, but honestly I'm not feeling anything. I know that once I step off the plane and into the 130 degree weather I'm probably going to crap my pants, but I'd rather not think about it before hand because it's never going to be like what I think up in my head.