Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stayin'

Dear Akisha,

We have received confirmation from the State Dept. that you have been approved to renew your Fellowship projects for a second cycle. This is to let you know that we have you confirmed as renewals. However, we will not be sending official acceptance letters, new Fellowship documents for you to complete, or your new grants until mid-October. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,
Erin

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Akisha is Online!


I submitted an essay to NPR's  (National Public Radio) show "This I believe," where everyday Americans write essays about what they believe on a variety of subjects.  I got this email from them:

Dear Akisha Pearman:

     Thank you for submitting an essay to This I Believe. Your essay has now completed our review process and will shortly be added to the This I Believe online database. However, it may take a couple of hours for your essay to start showing up on our website at thisibelieve.org. 
     Once it's added to the website, your essay will appear at...
http://thisibelieve.org/essay/78824/
     You will notice that only your first name will be seen on the web page with your essay. We do not publish last names or other personal information on our website. The only exceptions to this rule are essayists who have granted permission for use of their last name or essayists from the original 1950s series.
     We are honored by your having shared your most closely held convictions with us. Thank you, sincerely, for participating in our project.
                            -- The staff of This I Believe


I am happy to be recognized and am excited to see what kind of feedback I get on it in cyberland.

Here is the essay I wrote:

This I believe

By Akisha Pearman

As an English language teacher I believe words are the most powerful tool to which I can expose my students.    I have held words close to my heart since I was young, not verbalizing them, but writing my observations in a journal.  My words always meant exactly how I wrote them.  I was the only one who had to interpret them so there was no need for cross-cultural communication.

My family moved around a lot when I was young.   It took a while to make friends but I think all the moving made me into a skilled observer of my surroundings.  I was quiet, but in my silence I was soaking in all the feelings, interactions, and communication styles of others.  I think this prepared me for intercultural experiences later in my life abroad in Spain, Madagascar, Mozambique, Korea, and now Angola.  It made me sensitive to the way people use language and culture to communicate.

When I taught English in Korea I was placed at a girls’ catholic school.  I was also there to do professional development activities for the English teachers as well as give English conversation classes to teachers of other disciplines.  These other teachers and I learned a lot from each other that semester—speaking about challenges in teaching, what we considered about certain life issues, and discussing photographs and artwork in a way they had never done before in a language class.  As high beginners, they surprised me as well as themselves by what they were able to communicate with me and each other with limited words.

One day, after class had finished, I was packing up my materials and noticed that one of the sweet nuns had accidently picked up my favorite pen and was carrying it out of class.  With a warm smile, I sarcastically told her, “I think you stole my pen.” Her eyes opened wide in embarassment, she smiled back, gave me the pen, and we walked to our offices together.  I didn’t give the mistake another thought until she stopped showing up for class.

It took three weeks for that sweet student nun to gather the courage to talk to me about what had happened through a translator.  During the encounter she said that after hearing that word “stole” she looked it up and came upon words like “thief,” “burglar,” “shoplift” and many other words that were “inappropriate” to use with a nun.  She belonged to the church and because of this it was an insult to talk to her this way.

I went through a lot of emotions after talking with her.  I felt like a complete idiot, was angry that she didn’t understand sarcasm, and was hurt that she could fathom I would speak to her disrespectfully.  Language brought us to an understanding that day:  Words can be used to inform people about the world and expand their knowledge of it.  They can make communication (and miscommunication) possible.  They can be used to improve lives and relationships.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

TexMex at my place!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Senhora do Monte Procession

August is an exciting month in Huíla, full of a religious procession, trade show, farm animal auction, car races, and more. Here is the catholic procession (apparently not only for Catholics nowadays. I was impressed with how organized it was.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Favorite Pictures until now

Dirty bus window--Namibe, Angola


Cátia, me, and Hernania at Mundo's Restaurant--Maputo, Mozambique 
(I taught these smart ladies their first and second year at the tourism college in Inhambane.  They have now finished their first professional internship and hope to intern at Kruger park in South Africa at the end of the year--they are the bomb!)


Sunset at Opuwo Country Lodge--Opuwo, Namibia


Scissor practice--Otuzemba Kindergarden, Opuwo, Namibia


Cristo--Lubango, Angola


Little Himba Boy---Village outside Opuwo, Namibia


Sunset--Humpata, Angola


Road--Outside Opuwo, Namibia


Surprise--Otuzemba Kindergarden, Opuwo, Namibia


Petrol Tube--Namibe, Angola


One of "the Chinese" fishing on Sunday--Namibe, Angola (there has been a recent influx of Chinese, Cambodian, and Vietnamese to Angola for work)


Yara enjoying Gianni gelato--Maputo, Mozambique (Yara was a great student and friend from when I worked in Inhambane starting almost three years ago)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beauty in Every Situation

So, I must begin this by talking about how frustrating it is to have a blog sometimes.  If you haven't heard from the grapevine, I am very lonely in Angola.  I am LOVIN' the professional experiences I am having.  I get to do cool things with teachers and students of English, get to travel a bit, and I think these experiences will only help me in the future.  Perhaps one day I can use the skills to work with the State department managing their english programs around the globe, who knows?  Being lonely, coupled with the fact that my internet connection is not fast enough to Skype call people for longer than a minute before it cuts off, make the need to connect to something when good and bad things happen, so imperative.  However, this means of communication, my blog, can't be a substitute for a dinner chat with my family, a coffee or drink with an old friend, or a barstool bitching session with a group of old traveling buddies.  Lots of different parties have this blog address--my bosses, my current and former students, so I constantly censor or edit what I am writing about.  I have to be very careful about how I say things as well as to not piss somebody off.  This is not so great for my spirit so I do pray a lot to have some form of release, but I am frustrated nonetheless.  I was talking to my little sister during my last visit and she made a comment about how me and my mom and her were pretty strong women.  I think lots of people see me as strong because I am able to live so far away and have been living by myself for so long.  I reminded her that those who appear strong, in my experience, are the ones who are the most hurt inside.  In all my travels I have always had some option for communication--other American Peace Corps Volunteers, a kind friend from a foreign land (not the country I was living in) for nice talks, or just a DSL internet connection and a Skype-In number.  This is my first experience with none of these things and God is the only thing left.  Think he's trying to tell me something??  :)

These photos were taken by me from the Dean of ISCED Benguela's vehicle on our trip back down country to take me back to Lubango.  Long story short, my school's transport (that they were required to provide)  fell through, but since I had done a short workshop for ISCED Benguela that morning, and had had lunch with their Vice Dean and Head of Modern Language Dept, they kindly offered the Dean's car and personal driver to take me back home.  We didn't leave on our 5.5 hour journey until 2pm so we had to drive on some pretty bad roads right before dark and after dark--not something I plan on doing the the future.  The beauty that did result was that I got some great stories from my driver, Félix, that connected the scenery we were passing with the past war, and I also got some nice photos from the car.  The last two are doctored up with a "fisheye" transformation I can do on the camera after a take a picture.




The Benguela "drive by" 3 Hour Workshop

I spent the night in Benguela on my way down to Lubango and had to do a workshop the next morning from 8-12 before leaving to drive home.  Here's the highlight:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mombaka

Pics from the all too expensive and overly gaudy Hotel Mombaka, in Benguela (my overnight stop between Luanda and my home in Lubango).  It was so ridiculous in there that I must, repeat, must go back.  :)


I don't think they were real leather, but everything was so shiny


Presidential Hallway


The bed was big but not as big as my giant size one at home in Lubango.


Can anyone tell me what to cal that weird thing on the ceiling?  Note the green velour headboard


View from bathroom window


I was running a warm bath

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back in Luanda

Back in the country after a great trip outside and I am still two days from home!


Houses

Maybe this is a market or something.  Lots of people and Candongeiros (mini bus taxis)


Luanda was under this cloud.  Its still great for me to think about how all my friends all over the world live under this same sky.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Visit with Anacleto's Family !!!!!!!!!

The Machava crew, as I call them, are led by the patriarch, Anacleto.  Anacleto works in Public affairs and I got to work with him (from far mostly) during my two years as a fellow in Mozambique.  He invited me to Marracuene, 45 minutes outside of Maputo, where he is building a really nice house for his wife, Versinha, and two girls, Verana and Lulú.  He says he only wants to build once in life so he and his wife have put a lot of thought into it.  It is coming along and they hope to be finished in the next two years.  It was a great honor to get out there with everyone.  We just hung out and had a nice lunch and dinner together.  A typical Sunday in Mozambique.  Thanks again Machavas for inviting me.  I will be back.

Family & Friends at sunset on the porch

The front porch

VersinhaBea, her niece, preparing the grill

Little Lulú wanted to feed the chickens, but when the guard brought her in and the hungry little suckers attacked her, she ran for her life!

The table--pork, salad, rice and the best Matapa I have had in a while

They will have a great sunset view every day.  Lulú was a ham and a half.  Work it girl!

Looking and laughing at old photos with Versinha.  I saw pics of a vacation she took to Inhaca Island way back when and thought the young and skinny guy was an ex boyfriend.  Nope, it was Anacleto!  We had a big laugh.

Anacleto descending from the roof, where his future office and rooftop party area will be.

Twas a nice Sunday.  The ladies were pooped.