First off, a happy Thanksgiving to you! I trust that you are enjoying the company of family and friends before the plunge of Christmas at Luther. I know the turning of the calendar to December will bring quite the whirlwind of rehearsals, term projects, juries, athletics, and concerts! Even with all the stress, I fondly remember December being quite memorable in Decorah, IA. :)
As you spend time with extended family this weekend, I suspect you're yielding questions as to what you'll experience after the whirlwind month of December. Believe it or not, but you all take off for Namibia in a mere 5 weeks! As the days fly by you will undoubtably start to imagine what awaits once you arrive. Personally, I had virtually no idea what to expect, other than I was excited beyond measure!
I find not knowing what to expect to be a good and healthy thing at times. Experiencing an unknown propels us to have such strong focus. For me, those 3+ weeks really pushed me to be aware of myself, the people around me, and how being a member of that chamber choir fit into my understanding of the world. Unknowns however, can also be daunting, and that's okay too. For example, if you're anything like me, you had to look up where Namibia is on the map... Oops!
My purpose in writing to you is not to tell you what to expect. It will be different for everybody anyway. I basically want to wish you a happy journey, and to reassure you that you made a marvelous decision to spend your January in Namibia and South Africa. As other people read this (that may be over-confident), I suspect they'll nod in agreement that there will be many people traveling happily along side you in spirit.
All the best,
Okay...if I was to offer any advice, it would be this..
Set yourself up to be story tellers when you get back. As odd as it sounds to be thinking about coming back before you've even packed to go, you will surely come back with gobs of stories. Write things down, have great conversations with your fellow singers, and take lots of videos. As a 1st grade teacher, everyday I see the power a good story can have on people.
I for one, can't wait to hear yours.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Nelson Mandela once said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
At Luther College Homecoming 2013 Namupa (Kafidi) Nengola ’98 was presented a Distinguished Service Award for her professional work as a teacher, as a leader in the Namibian Government, and for her service to Luther College.
Namupa grew up in a village called Ongenga, about five kilometers from the border with Angola in the heart of Ovamboland. She is one of eleven children and her parents made sure that each child ate, went to school daily, did their homework, and earned good grades. Though neither Jonas nor Rauna Kafidi received a formal education, Namupa boasts their many accomplishments including their continued service as congregation elders in their Ongenga Lutheran Church. Perhaps most importantly, Namupa says “My parents value education. They did all they could for us as children under very difficult circumstances and I am very proud to say my parents can read and write.”
Namupa now serves her country as director of education for the Anti-Corruption Commission.
In October, shortly after Namupa returned home to Namibia, she received word that a new educational block at her hometown primary school in Ongenga, would be named in her honor.
In accepting this honor, she was informed that this naming is for five reasons: to create a link with different stakeholders for the benefit of the Namibian child; provide equitable quality education; provide cultural diversity; eradicate illiteracy; and to eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2030.
To be true … in accepting this naming honor, Namupa has herself now made a pledge to help fulfill these important objectives for her childhood school..
Congratulations Namupa on this recognition! Empowering Learners is happy to help. This January we will deliver ten laptop computers to the Ongenga Primary School, for use in this new computer center/library named in your honor, and we look forward to helping further to the best of our ability. Blessings to you friend!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
My sister, Miriam Kagol, has a neat habit of sending me good quotes. Mim is an avid reader, and she zips great thoughts and sayings to me when she comes upon them and when she thinks they pertain to the work we do with Empowering Learners. Every quote she has sent has put my mind to wandering. This one especially!
If you want to travel fast, go alone.
If you want to travel far, go together.
This proverb is from the N’gambai people, and these words have been on my mind for a few weeks now. In sending this quote, my sister’s timing was impeccable. We had just arrived home from our trip to Namibia. In every way possible that trip was a very special journey. The days were filled with activity. We made so many new connections, and affirmed and renewed previous friendships. There were also some more leisurely hours in the North, when we had time to pause, spend time as guests, and just peacefully soak it all in.
How fortunate we were – and how grateful I am.
In every encounter on this trip, as introductions were made and conversations shared, I tried deliberately to remember the important sense of accompaniment we’re committed to within this project. Though I could not name it at the time … I can see now that I was doing an inventory of the many ways in which we’re traveling alongside our brothers and sisters in the ELCIN.
Now in these busy days of fall, at the beginning of a new academic year, these memories help balance me just a bit. I let my mind wander and I remember the ways in which we’re tethered to our treasured friends in Africa, and more importantly how they feel tethered to us, and to all of you, who help support this empowerment effort.
And then, often when I am least expecting it but seem to need it most, an email or a text arrives from Namibia saying, “Grace and peace to you dear friends. We hope you are well. Say hello, and thank you, to everyone there. Tell them we are grateful.”
For me there is a sacredness in these moments.
It could be easy to believe this proverb is primarily about companionship. As a guest and as a fellow traveler, I can see and understand this. Good travel partners are essential and I have had none better.
But for us, “traveling far, going together” has more to do with purpose, and the way in which we do our work. What we do can only be done in partnership. The ELCIN, their teachers, and their principals, invite us in to partner with them in what needs doing. It is in this way that we travel far, and go together.