Brief: English Language Fellow at the Polytechnic of Namibia

Please share with us your background, home University and field of expertise: I lived in New England, the East Coast of the United States when I was younger, but then moved to Michigan when I was twelve. Michigan is in the northern part of the U.S., a state that borders Canada. I received my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and my Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) both from Michigan State University. In grad school, I was particularly interested in learning about and teaching writing. I have taught English in the United States, South Korea, Ecuador, Senegal, before coming to Namibia, and I'm hoping I can stay in Africa for a while. I've enjoyed the parts I've been able to see and would love to travel to more places.

We see that you taught Business English to students in Senegal earlier this year. How did you end up at the Polytechnic of Namibia? I'd been wanting to participate in the English Language Fellows program since I was a graduate student and my professors encouraged me to apply. I had a great time in Senegal, but wanted to see southern Africa as well. Namibia is actually a country I've wanted to visit for a long time, and now I'm living here! The first time I heard about Namibia was when I was about 13. I was watching a travel documentary about the country and I remember learning about Sossusvlei and the massive sand dunes. Since then, Namibia has been at the top of my travel wish-list. When I applied for the EL Fellows program, I requested to go to Namibia and was accepted. The American Cultural Center has a partnership with the Polytechnic, and that's how I ended up here.

Taken into consideration of your travels, how do you find Namibia? Well, it's so dry here, but definitely beautiful. The views around campus are lovely. I lived in Dakar last year, which was much busier, louder, and crowded. It's nice here in Windhoek to hear the birds, see the purple Jacaranda trees, and breathe clean air. I'm really looking forward to traveling around the country. I have only been in Windhoek so far, but I hope I can go to Etosha, the Skeleton Coast, Swakopmund, and many other places. Namibian people are friendly and kind, and everyone has me feel welcome. One thing that interesting to me about Namibia, is the diversity of spoken languages. I enjoy listening to all the different languages spoken here (especially Damara!), and my colleague has taught me a few Oshiwambo phrases. I really hope I can participate in Namibian culture as much as possible while I'm here.

What would you like to achieve during your time teaching at the Polytechnic of Namibia? I'm hoping to help as much as I can at the English Department. I'll be teaching classes next semester. Also, I'll be working at the Writing Center to raise awareness of how the Center can help students and work to develop some programs that will cater to students' needs. I'm also going to be helping with the Namibian English Teachers Association. It will be exciting for me to see how things are going in national primary and secondary schools and to promote solid English teaching methods there. In addition to my responsibilities at Poly, I will be working at the American Cultural Center. I hope to find ways to connect what I'm working on at Poly to my activities at the Cultural Center, and vice versa.
I've been able to meet a few students so far, and they seem vibrant, enthusiastic and driven. I'm really excited about working with the student population here. As an instructor, I thrive off learning from my students, and I expect to learn just as much as they are learning from me. Learning and teaching is reciprocal; that's the way it should be.

Success quote: I read a quote once from a graduation speech that stuck in my mind. “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you” (David McCullough Jr.). If you're enjoying what you're doing, it won't see stressful, but worthwhile and meaningful. If we can keep our minds active and try to learn something out of every experience, good or bad, then we are moving forward. We shouldn't do things just to bring ourselves recognition, but to learn what we can about our world and making it better.