Namibian schools have 40 periods in a week. Last year I taught 28 English periods in a week, with an average class size of 50 learners in a class. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are only supposed to teach 70% of what a normal Namibian teacher teaches (we are volunteers, afterall). Most of my colleagues teach 35-38 classes a week, with the same class size. That means that most days break time is their only time off (9:50-10:20). There is no staggered lunch break here, everyone is off at the same time.
Needless to say, teaching that much constantly and consistently is a very tough task. It is part of the reason PC is asked to bring teachers over – to help alleviate the load of teaching for current teachers. I found myself very consumed with lesson planning, marking and teaching.
This year my teaching load is significantly less to focus more on secondary projects (namely the library and girls club). Now I teach 2 periods a day/10 a week – 1 English and one BIS (Basic Information Science – teaching them how to use the library mostly). Last year I had 220 kids. This year I have only 47 for my English class. BIS is a “non-promotional” class meaning the learners only have it once a week, and it’s not graded. While I have a lot less classes, I am still busy. For those out there that think PC is a 2 year vacation, I guarantee you it is not for some of us. But it’s ok, because for the most part I have enjoyed the work. 🙂
Though I feel as if there’s really no “typical day” or week when you are living overseas, here’s a rough idea of what my weeks and weekends have been like the past 1.5 years:
Monday – School 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Marking/cleaning up, etc from 2- 4p.m. Community pool meeting from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Josh, fellow volunteer JT and myself are trying to revitalize the pool at my school that currently sits empty. Workout/shower from 5-6. Dinner, library prep or lesson prep and/or Downton Abbey watching, Modern Family Watching, Orange is the New Black watching, calling family/friends from home or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.
Tuesday – School from 7 am. To 1 p.m., then Library open from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Hungry Lion half priced chicken special lunch with friends from 2 – 3p.m. Since Hungry Lion is close to Shoprite, I may grocery shop after this. Workout from 5- 6 p.m. Dinner, marking, library prep and/or t.v. watching or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.
Wednesday– School from 7 am. To 1:40. Wednesdays school is one period longer b/c on Monday first period we have assembly and need to make that period up. Lunch from 1:45- 3 p.m. Mark/library prep/read/write/tv/workout from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Thursday – School from 7 am. To 1 p.m. Library open from 1 – 2 p.m. Lunch and prep for Girls Club from 2-3 p.m. Girls club 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Workout 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Dinner, marking, library prep and/or t.v. to decompress, or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.
Friday– School from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. Relax!! Do errands, laundry, grocery shop, etc. From 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. TGIF! Dinner and/or drinks/Sundowner at Kavango River Lodge with friends from 6p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday – Some Saturdays I start with Yoga in the morning with a few learners, usually around 9 a.m. Afterward breakfast with French press coffee or chai tea (thanks to those who have sent packages!) as a treat. You can buy French presses here (or coffee plungers as they call them) . After breakfast we will usually do laundry (hand wash), read, mark papers (me), try to catch up on email, etc. Grocery shopping may happen. If our PC daughter is visiting, we will do a workout together and have a long leisurely breakfast.
Sunday – Getting ready for the week domestically and professionally. Cleaning the flat. Hand washing Laundry. Lesson planning/marking. Workout. Read/Write. Cook a big meal so we have leftovers for the week. My best friend Laura and I have had a long standing phone date since we graduated college in 2003 and I’m happy to say we’ve been able to keep it going during our time here. Sundays are usually when we catch up for 1-3 hours. She has an iphone so we are able to Facetime (only audio, video sucks up too much data/costs more). Sometimes the connection is awful but most days it has been fine.
We are fortunate to live in an incredibly beautiful area, right on the river. On the weekends sometimes we try and get out to nearby Hakusembe Lodge and just 2 hours away is our Namibian “happy place” Divundu. In Divundu we laze along the river and enjoy gourmet meals at a bargain (American) price.
Hope that gives you an idea of what my world is like on a daily basis in case you were curious. If we lived in a rural area we may have to fetch water or do more activities in the daylight if we didn’t have electricity. But we are fortunate to have running water in our house as well as electricity.
In many ways our day-to-day is not too extremely different from what my life at home would be like if I was a teacher. We spend a lot more time at home here b/c there aren’t the abundance of restaurant or activity options. Honestly, it’s kinda nice : )