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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Namibia

Peace Corps Volunteer Skyla Seltzer talks with students from Connecticut

Once a year, a few U.S. classrooms get to talk with a Peace Corps Volunteer by telephone because they've been communicating throughout the year with a volunteer in the field. Today, students from the Drop-In Learning Center in New London, Connecticut speak with Skyla Seltzer, who's serving in Namibia.

Ron Tschetter
Hi. I'm Ron Tschetter, director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years, the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Student
What language do they speak over there?
Skyla
The official language is English. They speak English in schools, and a lot of the businesses have English, but the language in my area is ThiMbukushu. Do you want to hear some words in ThiMbukushu?
Student
Yes!
Skyla
Okay. If you want to say "good morning," you say " moro."
Student
Moro!
Skyla
Yeah. And if you want to say, "how are you," you say, " ngepi."
Student
Ngepi!
Skyla
Yeah. And then if someone says, "ngepi," you say you're doing fine, which is "tiwanna."
Student
Tiwanna!
Skyla
Yeah! [Laughter]
Student
What is a school like down there?
Skyla
Most of the schools are run by the government. They're state schools. They have grades one through grade 12. There's no kindergarten. Or kindergarten is just starting here, and many of the schools are called combined schools, which means it's grade one to grade ten all together in the same school. And many of the schools are hostel schools, which means they're like boarding schools because the learners, the students, have to come from very far away because their homes are far, so they sleep at the school. They have rooms; everyone has a cot, and a little place to put their things. And then, once every, maybe six weeks or so, they have a home weekend. So, they go back to their houses, to their homes.
Student
Where do they live?
Skyla
They live in different kinds of houses. Some people live in a regular house like me. And some of the people nearby in my village live in a regular, like American-type house, with concrete walls and glass windows. But most people in Namibia live in huts, or rondavels, they're called. And they're houses that are made out of mud and sticks, and they have a straw roof on them. And they don't have glass windows. They usually don't have any windows, and it's just an open door.
Student
How do the people dress in Africa?
Skyla
Good question. Well, there's two different kinds of dress. Most of the time, most people in Namibia dress just like Americans. They wear jeans. They wear pants. They wear skirts. They wear t-shirts. They wear baseball caps. They wear sneakers. But sometimes they wear what's called traditional dress, which is how they used to dress a long, long time ago. So traditional dress for women is usually a very long skirt, and this is just in my area. In different areas in Namibia, they all dress differently ‘cause there's many different tribes of people in Namibia. So in my area, they wear long skirts—the women do—and they wear something called a chitenge, which is a piece of fabric that they wrap around the outside of their skirt, like a second skirt. And women always wear a piece of fabric wrapped around their hair. You have to—you hide your hair. And then, the men, the traditional dress for men is usually slacks or trousers. Then they have also the kind of clothes that they wear when they do their cultural dancing from a long, long time ago. And they wear skirts and shirts made out of animal skins. They're skirts made out of river reeds, which are kind of like bamboo. And they make these long skirts out of these pieces of bamboo, so when they move their hips around it makes this clackety-clackety sound, which is fun.
Student
How do you hunt in Africa ?
Skyla
How do I hunt?
Student
Yes.
Skyla
Like, hunt, like H-U-N-T, hunt?
Student
Yep.
Skyla
No, I don't hunt. [Laughs] I get all my food from the grocery store. There's no hunting. I think sometimes if you go to town you can see the place where all the tourists go; there are souvenirs, and sometimes you can buy, like, a bow and arrow, but they're not really for use. They're just for show. No hunting.
Student
What type of insects do they have at Africa ?
Skyla
There are a million, bazillion insects in Namibia. There are more kinds—I didn't even know there were this many insects in the world. There are flies that land on you and stick on you even when you run around. And there are mosquitoes. There are millipedes. There are beetles. Everywhere you look, there are insects.
Student
Do you guys have tarantulas there?
Skyla
I don't think we have tarantulas, but we have lots of spiders. There are different kinds of spiders, so the scariest kind of spider is called a wall spider. But it's not poisonous; it's just scary because it's very big. And they are very fast, and they live inside people's houses on the walls. But I usually don't kill the wall spiders because they eat all the mosquitoes.
Student
Bye, Miss Skyla! [All together screaming]
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match program through Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information, visit us online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Skyla Seltzer

Peace Corps Volunteer Skyla Seltzer talks with students from New London, Connecticut about her experience in Namibia.