by Leighton James
The first souvenir I will pack in my bag—the weather.
It’s beautiful during the day. At night, the temperature drop is quite shocking though. However, the blankets University of Namibia gave us to sleep with are very warm, which makes for a cozy night’s sleep. That’s purely opinion though.
Some stay colder than others. Thankfully, our excitement makes up for any heat we may lack. We carry it with us everywhere.
We started Monday by meeting with U.S. embassy staff. Much to our delight and surprise, Ambassador Wanda Nessbit joined us as well.
We learned about Namibia’s economy and politics and U.S.-Namibia relations. We also learned about how to get jobs in foreign relations. Our pre-departure research came in handy while at the visit. It prompted many insightful questions and allowed us to make the most of our time there.
After, we explored the city of Windhoek. Giraffes, elephants, and monkeys lined the streets—the carved miniature versions of course … not the real ones.
The city is similar to one you would find in the United States. There were malls, food courts, nice stores, modern buildings, and restaurants. We actually felt a little closer to home in town.
The restaurant where we ate lunch looked like it walked out of an old western magazine. Old country music played in the background as we chose burgers, fajitas, fish, or other similar dishes.
Outside, there was heavy traffic and people everywhere. We even had to dodge a few cars. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way here.
At the embassy, we learned that the wealthiest people here are 52 times richer than the poorest people. We definitely saw the wealthier population of Namibia while in Windhoek. Later on our trip, we will get to see the poorer regions. I believe that since we saw the wealthier side first, we will have a greater understanding of the gap between the rich and poor when we encounter the other extreme.
Next, Sean Kalundu, who recently left Texas A&M University as a Fulbright Scholar, gave us a history lesson at Heroes’ Acre. Stairs lead visitors to a massive statue of Namibia’s first president, which overlooks the graves of Namibia’s heroes. Although we were out of breath when we reached the top, the hike was worth it. The cool, fresh air, the beaming sun, and the panoramic view were priceless.
Sean told us there is a lot of debate about who should be remembered at this memorial. Who should be defined as a hero? What makes someone a hero?
I frequently have to silently tell myself, “I’m in Africa.” It’s almost too hard to believe, and I have a feeling it will go by too quickly. I didn’t know what to expect when I got here. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect the rest of the trip.
There’s only so much that can be learned from research and pre-planning. However, the introduction was capturing and has left us all wondering what will happen next.
How will our ideas be challenged? What doors will this open? What kind of appreciation will we have when we leave? Will we be chased by a cheetah?
Stay updated to find out.