Peace, love and Periclean always,
Kelsey, Oly, Susan & Carol
Our final 24 hours in Namibia have been spent saying goodbye to new friends and reminiscing on our experience thus far. We were able to see Katherine Carter one final time, and thank her for her immense help for everything. We had to say goodbye to our incredible friend and Cardboard Box receptionist, Kathleen, who we will miss dearly but are so excited to see again in January. AND we sent our dearest Susan off on her morning flight to Kenya this morning where she will be for the next 2 and a half months working at the G-BIACK center becoming a certified teacher of the sustainable agriculture method of Grow Biointensive.
Our trip has been incredibly rewarding. We've learned more than we ever thought possible and cannot wait to convey all of our new information to our class. Throughout our time here, we all have felt periods of intense joy, great frustration, some confusion, yet overall the utmost of pride for all that our class has set out to accomplish. We will continue to update our blog throughout the summer with regard to updates on both the conference and the documentary, so stay tuned for more. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo for exclusive photos and clips.
Peace, love and Periclean always,
Kelsey, Oly, Susan & Carol
Though we were sad to leave the north, we were happy to return to our home at the Cardboard Box. We were welcomed with open arms by Kathleen, the most lovely of receptionists who has been so helpful in all of the craziness that we have thrown her way (including locating a pin number for our SIM card in the bottom of a bag we left in Windhoek during our trip to the north). We arrived at the Box around 1:30 on Tuesday with less than an hour to pull ourselves together before having to set out for a very important meeting at the UNAM campus in Windhoek. We met with the Vice Chancellor of the University to discuss the MOU between Elon and UNAM. Though it was a tense meeting, our conversations afterwards with Simon Angombe (Dean of Faculty of Agricultural Science at UNAM) proved to be quite positive and we are excited to continue working with him on the conference. Another crazy thing happened, it rained in Windhoek!!!! And by rained, I mean it absolutely poured, which is virtually unheard of in Namibia, let alone during their winter season. Though we were not prepared for the rain, we were quite happy that it provided at least some relief from the drought conditions that Windhoek has been experiencing.
Today (Wednesday) was an incredibly exciting day. We had an early start to the day with an interview with Dr. Zimmerman at the Polytechnic University. Dr. Zimmerman is the Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture at the Polytechnic, and had so much knowledge surrounding the the issue of food security in Namibia and ways to combat it. Following our meeting with him, we finally were able to meet with George Buekes! George works at the American Cultural Center in Namibia and has been one of our biggest resources as he has so graciously helped us on so many occasions, including setting up a very exciting meeting today! Our whole team met personally with the US Ambassador in Namibia today, Mr. Thomas Daughton. It was an incredible experience and we cannot believe that we had the opportunity to talk to him about the projects that our Class has taken on. And to top it all off, he personally said that he was beyond impressed with all that our Class is doing, which was a HUGE compliment from a person of such high esteem. We are hopeful that he will come to speak at our conference in January, so stay tuned for updates (as well as a photo from our meeting today).
To learn more about the US Ambassador, click here.
Our final full day in the north was spent at UNAM at the Ogongo Campus. Having spent much time already with Professor Itanna, we were excited to visit his campus and meet his colleagues. The majority of the morning was spent in meetings discussing our Memorandum of Understanding between Elon and UNAM. Having only communicated via email prior to today, both sides had many questions so it was a fruitful and eye-opening meeting, especially for our team of students.
We spent the afternoon getting a wonderful tour of UNAM's campus. As part of their campus, they have a farm with a large variety of crops, as well as plots for students to conduct research. The campus also has a game park which we were fortunate enough to experience as well. We saw giraffes, zebras, oryx, and impalas. And we got to shoot some footage on the drone as well which was much fun. We ended our day with a visit to the homestead of the head-man in the local village. We were able to speak with and interview him about his experience farming the land. Having lived in Namibia for 77 years now, he had much knowledge that he so kindly shared with us.
We spent the day in Oshakati with long-time friend of the Periclean Program, Anita Isaacs. Anita became connected with Periclean back in 2003 when the Class of 2006 first made contact in Namibia. Having heard stories of the years of friendship with her, we were very excited to finally meet. Anita graciously invited us to her church this morning where we were able to celebrate her recent graduation from University, which has now led to her new job here in Oshakati! It was an honor to be here to celebrate with her. After church we headed back to Anita's homestead for some festivities. She sure knows how to throw a party! We met many of her close friends and family while enjoying delicious traditional cuisine (though most of us were too timid to try the Mopani). We also had the opportunity to visit the Ekamba Garden, which was a project that our class helped to fund last year. It was exciting to see the space and hear about the plans for the future. We got some awesome shots from our drone camera so stay tuned for photos coming soon (as WiFi permits). Tomorrow we head to the University of Namibia Campus at Ogongo where we will be meeting again with Professor Itanna, some of his students, and his colleagues. We are very much so looking forward to another action-packed day.
What an exciting past few days! We are just now getting a wifi connection so we have some incredible updates from our past 2 days. We started out early morning on Thursday bound for Rundu, our stopping point for the evening before heading to Bwabwata National Park the next day. We were fortunate enough to be accompanied by Dr. Itanna at the UNAM Campus at Ogongo who has been an incredible help in our journey so far. After a long 7 hour drive, we made it to Rundu just in time for sunset. Our lodging for the night was right on the Okavango River, which we learned was the division between Namibia and Angola! We were able to film the sun setting over Angola which made for a wonderful end to the day
The following morning we set out early for Bwabwata National Park, located in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia in the north-eastern most part of the country. We met with our contact Fidi Alpers, who works for the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC). We originally connected with Fidi through our contact at the Finnish Embassy last semester. After notifying him of our plans to travel to Namibia this summer, he insisted that we come and visit him and learn about the projects he is working on, which we were more than thrilled to hear. As Pericleans studying a country that is so far away from our home, we try to be extremely conscientious about our efforts, so that we can work to address an issue that would have the most positive impact on the local community. Hearing that Fidi was very eager to have us come visit meant that we were going to a place that needed our efforts would be most productive and sustainable.
Through our contact in past months, we learned that Fidi has been tackling projects that are very similar to the focus of our class, so we were all incredibly excited to meet. Fidi has been working in Bwabwata with the local Khwe people of Namibia, addressing community development including things like food security, poverty, and education. He introduced us to a number of individuals that also live and work in the park including local farmers, members of the Kyaramacan Assocation, researchers working alongside Fidi in the park, and many more. We spent the majority of the day hearing stories from local people about what they are dealing with in the Park, as well as interviewing some for our documentary. We visited Omega I, a large farm located roughly 70km into the park that has not been in use since 2001. Fidi has been passionately trying to make use of the farm in order to help provide food for those in Bwabwata as well as creating jobs and opportunities for community members. We were able to sit down and listen to the wants and needs of local workers and community members, as well as the hopes that Fidi has for the future, and we are hopeful that we can help to facilitate the opening of Omega I once again. After a long, but inspiring day, we headed back to Buffalo Core Camp towards the entrance of the park where Fidi lives year round. We got back early enough to take a short drive down the Okavango river and had our first Namibian safari experience! Bwabwata National Park is home to more elephants than people (of which there are about 5,200) so we saw many elephants heading down to the river to drink just before sunset. Our evening was spent around the campfire with a homemade dinner of local foods, conversing with friends and colleagues of Fidi. Among our group of 4 from the States were a family of 6 from Botswana, sisters Megan and Ilene from Switzerland, researchers Anita and Atila from Hungary, and local friends from the Park. Our three students were fortunate enough to spend the night at Fidi's camp, enjoying more conversation around the campfire, frequent noises from surrounding elephants saying hello, and a stunningly beautiful starry night sky.
Today we made the long 9-hour trek from Bwabwata National Park back to Ongwediva where we will be staying until Tuesday. We are excited to meet up with Dr. Tom Arcaro who will be joining our team for the remainder of our trip after spending the past week in Zambia with the Periclean Scholars Class of 2018. It has been an exhilarating few days in the north and we are so excited about the contacts we have made and relationships we have developed thus far.
We spent the first half of our day in Windhoek, solidifying plans for our trip to the north and interviewing contact Forrest Branch. It's hard to believe that this is already our third day here and our last morning in Windhoek until we return from the north next Tuesday.
After a quick ride to the domestic airport, we boarded our flight bound for Ondangwa! The short 45-minute flight was much easier than our original plan to make the 8-hour trip by car, and we got to see Namibia from high in the sky. Upon arrival in Ondangwa, we were met by our contact Dr. Itanna, a professor at the University of Namibia in Ogongo. We were so excited to finally meet face to face after having been in contact for so many months. Tomorrow we all depart for Rundu, where we will stop for an overnight before heading to Bwabwata National Park the following day.