Letter #1

Dear Ed,

Greetings from Namibia! I hope this message finds everyone well. My apologies for the long silence and here are a few updates.

I arrived safely in Namibia on January 22, but the journey was very challenging due to covid restrictions and policies which provoked much anxiety. I also arrived completely exhausted and jet lagged. Despite this, I am so happy to be in Namibia. I love it here and feel so relaxed and energized. Namibians’ response to their government’s covid policies is in such stark contrast to the USA, many people here are wearing their mask, practicing social distance, and no protests against vaccines and masks. Nonetheless, like so many places, the economic downturn from the pandemic has been devasting for the country which relies on tourism for survival. It is summer here in Southern Africa and many are hoping and praying that the pandemic is over and the coming winter will not bring another covid wave to the region. Regrettably, as the world eases its restrictions and moves into the “new normal” we are now confronted with the horrors of the Russian/Ukrainian war and ponder the future as the long period of peace in Europe has been shattered.

Like many developing countries, life in Namibia is very good for the elite and those with access to foreign currency. The cost of living is very low compared to the US, that said, life is difficult for many people here compounded further by the economic downturn from covid restrictions, the legacy of colonial rule, and the remnants of Apartheid policies. The racial divide is still evident across the socio-economic spectrum of Namibia. I have many friends here who have managed to make a successful living and they are all glad to have me back in Namibia.  On several levels, Namibia feels like home and I am exploring the possibilities of making the capital city of Windhoek my retirement base as the country remains very safe and one of the most stable democratic places to live.  It is also a beautiful country with many opportunities for outdoor activities and ideal for the nature enthusiast. More on this later. In addition, there is a small and vibrant Jamaican community here in Windhoek, about 20 people! It might not sound like much, but it’s nice to have the comfort of some Jamaican culture and a little bit of “home away from home.”

I have pasted this link to an interesting article about Namibia and why the country is the best place to be during a pandemic! The article was published several weeks ago by the NY Times.  I hope you will enjoy it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/17/travel/namibia-skeleton-coast-road-trip.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20220118&instance_id=50592&nl=the-morning&regi_id=126032440&segment_id=79990&te=1&user_id=5b8fefe108b049f1218a7268233c97de

My Fulbright program at the University of Namibia got off on a good start and all is progressing nicely. I am in regular contact with the US embassy for updates and next week I will be meeting with the Public Affairs officer and the acting ambassador. Overall, I am settled and live in a very nice modern apartment. I have a two bed room and two bath room suite. I have attached a few pictures for your viewing. I have great views from my balconies and I wake up each morning to spectacular views of the sunrise. In the backdrop of the photo with the sunrise, there you can see the National Museum (looks like a 4 legged stool) and to the left and right are government offices. I live downtown the capital so I can walk to restaurants, cafes, groceries, and the mall. The university is a quick 10 minute taxi ride away.

I am enjoying teaching and I am so happy to be back in the classroom. My students are eager to learn and they seem very dedicated to their studies. Many of them come from poor and rural/village settings, and they have no computer, and often struggle to complete homework assignments due to a lack of  internet service or poor connection at home (more on this later). Despite this, somehow they all come to class prepared and ready to learn. In this regard, I strongly believe that some of our US college students could learn from their Namibian counterparts. I am very excited about my Fulbright program and look forward to teaching my students each day and hopefully making a difference in their lives.

I am not a fan of social media and don’t have plans at this point to post pictures on Facebook etc.  This might change, but in the meantime, I will keep you informed of my experiences and program development. For the next several weeks I will be consumed with teaching and research. Most of my non-teaching time is spent at the National Archive of Namibia and supervising my graduate students. In a few months I will be heading into the field for research.

I will stay in touch and have a great weekend.

Best,

Steeve