Heads Will Roll

22 Feb


Before you ask, yes, this is the third blog I’ve posted today.  We have been so busy with school, grading, planning & wrapping up our final days that I’ve hardly had a chance to sit down and review my photos, let alone blog about them.  I’m on a roll today and actually have minimal planning for tomorrow, though, so here we go.


On Monday, my wonderful mentor teacher Belinda took the Moses girls out for some real Namibian fun.  I have really enjoyed having her as a mentor because she has had American students before, and more importantly, she’s had PLU students before.  She understands our responsibilities and is eager to learn from our teaching methods.  She’s also very willing to give up her classroom (I teach all day, almost every day, with the exception of a few art classes Kari teaches and a few lessons Janelle teaches when she’s with me).  In addition, she’s very open and knows that we are here for a true cultural experience.  No holding back.

This is an excursion that she plans on making a tradition as we bring her more PLU students each year.  Although she usually only takes her own student teacher, she has taken quite a liking to all of us: Kari, Bri, Janelle and me (of course).  First stop on traditional outing is the goat head restaurant.


It didn’t look like much.  Even to my (now) culturally competent eyes, the place looked a little unclean and extremely foreign.  We sat outside under an old canopy with flies zig-zagging over our heads while Belinda ordered “Smiley.”


Here’s Smiley! Yup.  It’s a boiled goat’s head.  This is not a traditional meal for only one tribe, but a customary dish for almost all Namibians.  While Belinda described it, I had a flash back to My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, where Toula is telling Ian about her family’s Christmas– they eat goat and her grandmother chases her around with the eyes and the brain, telling her it will bring her luck.

Similar traditions are kept here.  While the head looked terrifying to us, she calmly explained that many times, different parts of the animals are fought over, like the eyes, the brain, and the tongue.


A closer look at smiley….mmmm.


Before you panic and ask who I’ve become, let me just clarify that I watched the entire experience.  None of us were brave enough to taste it, and Belinda, knowledgable as ever, did not encourage us if we were uncomfortable with it.


Bri might be a little annoyed with me for putting this up, but I can’t resist.  Her face as she watched Belinda (and her husband, who joined us from his job at the Ministry) eat smiley was priceless.

Belinda was kind enough to ask the gentlemen to allow us some photo opportunities with their latest kill.


After the goat experience, Belinda brought us to her home in Windhoek.  It was definitely different from the homes we’ve seen in Katutura.  In comparison, she lived in luxury with a backyard, nicely tiled floors, and lots of space for her three children to grow comfortably in.  However, having spent a lot of time with her, I know that maintaining her home is a struggle.  Because she and her husband are both educators and they see flaws in the Namibian public school system, they send both their elder boys to private Catholic school.  Her adorable daughter, above, is still too young for school, but soon will attend private pre-primary.  Private school is expensive, she says, and hopefully soon her sons will be able to work to help out with small bills.

She had us in the sitting room for a while, looking through family photos while feeding us delicious cookies and soda.  Then, more tradition followed– trying on the customary Herero tribe dress.


This is only the first layer.  Herero women wear five or six layers of this undergarment to make their dress poofy.  It is heavy material.  I can’t believe women walk around all day in these.  When we went to Opuwo, we saw many women dressed up in this fashion..I have no idea how they did it, because I was sweating.


Finally, after much swimming in piles of orange fabric, the dress is on.  Sadly, the lack of boobs was a downer.


Belinda was crafty and stuffed me full so I could look like a real Herero woman!
SO cool.


It was really touching to have had the opportunity to meet Belinda’s family and see a different lifestyle.  She is such a great woman.  Even though teaching wasn’t her first choice, she makes the best of it by trying to better herself professionally.  She loves learning and it is clear that she is a culturally competent person herself.  I think the greatest lesson I have learned from her over the course of this experience has been to be positive.  Laugh at the mistakes you make.  Remember that the kids will love you tomorrow, no matter what.  Do your best.  And finally, be proud of the person you are– the kids will always be watching you for a role model.  We can’t let them down.


One Response to “Heads Will Roll”

  1. Cristina February 25, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Jill you look beautiful in the orange dress, but I do not want to look up that goat head, scarrrr….take care on your way back…, mom

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