Intermediate Seminar- meaning more than half of our voluntary service is already over. At the intermediate seminar volunteers within the same continent reunite to exchange experiences and reflect the past three months. For this reason, we (volunteers from Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Lesotho) were send to Namibia, where five other kulturweit-volunteers are situated. Seeing that there was no direct flight between Accra and Windhoek we had to fly over Nairobi and Johannesburg to get there. Our connection contained a 7-hour stop in Johannesburg, so we decided to stay there for two nights.
We started late in the evening and landed in Nairobi at night time, where we met Channa (Senegal) and had our first small reunion – even though we were too tired to be really excited. Together we were flying to Johannesburg and arrived at noon. My first impression was that Johannesburg is nothing like Accra. Joburg, as some people call the south-african metropole, is a very modern and developed city. It reminded me on big cities in Europe. Our hostel was situated in Braamsfontein, which was right in the city center and seemed to be a hipster district. After three months in the heat of Accra I was feeling cold for the first time. I did not consider the fact that winter is coming up in South Africa right now and that night-temperatures can shrink down to 10 degrees.
On Saturday Paula (Cameroon) joined us and we visited the Neighbourgoods Market just across the street. The market had a lot to offer: vintage clothes, food from all over the world and a nice rooftop area to sit. Afterwards we wanted to do a red-bus-tour, but couldn’t find the starting point. Therefore, we just walked through the city and enjoyed the beautiful view from Carlton Center. You can still feel the impact of Nelson Mandela in the city, seeing that many things are named after him.
The next day we started our trip to Windhoek. We met the other volunteers there and stayed one night in their house, before we headed to Umti Lodge. Umti Lodge is situated a 30-minute ride outside of Windhoek and offers seminar facilities and accommodation. Despite the food the lodge was ok. I learned that being a vegetarian in Namibia means something different than in Germany. People always thought that we would eat chicken and fish. Anyway, the seminar gave us time for a detailed exchange of working life and intercultural experiences. It was interesting to find out about the others experiences and about the countries that they are staying in. Furthermore, the seminar gave us new motivation to engage more in our projects for the last 2,5 months. Even though our group was still not very open for pedagogical methods, we tried our best to cooperate with our trainer. In two workshops we talked once again about intercultural communication and discrimination.
Moreover, we did a small excursion to Windhoek. In Windhoek you can clearly feel the impact of colonial time. Houses and Streets look like in Germany and even the street names are in German. This has an impact on society as well. There are still conflicts between different tribes and also between black and white. In the National Museum we learned a lot about the history of Namibia and tribalism. Furthermore, our guide took us to one of the poorest districts of Windhoek (Katatura) and showed us how the people are living there. The district differs a lot from the rest of the city, even though it is just a 10 minutes ride away. People live in houses out of corrugated iron and have no access to flowing water.
The weekend after we visited a national park, called Daan Viljoen. We went for a hike there. After three hours up and down and up over gravel ground, we were rewarded by seeing zebras and baboons. It was a nice hike in a beautiful scenery.
All in all, the seminar was nice and a good opportunity for us to think about all the things that had happened the last three months. It was also very nice to see the others again :).