American Hippie Meets the Ultimate Inspiration

On meeting Ms. Louisa Mupetami:

Image(Ms. Louisa Mupetami, left and Princess Reese, right. Princess is geeking out. Photo Credit: Princess Reese)

Ms. Mupetami is a petite, gentle woman with a small voice. Standing at about 5’ 0” she graciously opened her arms to greet all of us as soon as she recognized us outside of the building. Being the one to interview her was dream come true. It is not often that i see my own face reflected in the movement I love so much (sustainability) and knowing that a powerful Black woman was responsible for changing the face of her country blows my mind.

When I say that she has changed the face of Namibia, I mean that she has: CHANGED. THE. FACE.

As Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, she is responsible to changes and distribution in natural resource management across the country. She has orchestrated efforts to raise the Black Rhino population twofold and the elephant population by 300% since taking office.

Image(Photo Credit: outlaw.org)

She has also implemented countless education programs all over the country and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty out in the field. In fact– this Saturday, the junior members of the team are all going out with her to tag wild buffalo in the plains! She is everywhere and still manages to keep her programs running smoothly.The woman is amazing, and for a Black hippie woman interested in environmental conservation (AHEM! Me) she is a testament to our ability.

What’s most inspiring about her, perhaps, is the way she speaks of her accomplishments and duties as if anyone could have been responsible. She is incredibly humble about her work, and very patient with questions (and my fangirl-like awe of her).

ImageAbove: Ms. Louisa and Mr. Edwin Tjiramba pose for a picture at a recent return to PLU. (Photo Credit: Pacific Lutheran University)

Madame Secretary filled our hour-long interview with anecdotes about her time at PLU, the ways that she grew while there, and the genuine love she received from campus. She remained thoughtful and poised in her responses, while also vividly describing what it was like to live in the apartheid era of Namibia.

Her additions to the documentary are well received and have us all excited about the interviews to come.

Meeting her felt like a three hour dream and I am leaving deeply inspired by her drive and the impact she has had on her community. She will continue to do great work, and Namibians across the country will continue to be positively affected. She is truly one of the best things to ever happen to the country.

-Princess

 

(P.s. For fun, some more “behind the scenes” photos will be available on the Facebook page entitled “Namibia Nine”!)Image

 

Safari Means “Trip” and other Fun

While traveling, perhaps the most immediate difference one can understand, interact with, and will vividly remember is the barrier presented by language.

But, while language can isolate, it can also provide moments of comic relief and child-like delight to the weary traveler. As soon as we landed in London, and since (landing in South Africa and Namibia) we’ve found and held onto a few gems!

 

Princess and Andrea on the London Underground, also known as "the Tube". First lesson in vocab.

Princess and Andrea on the London Underground, also known as “the Tube”. First lesson in vocab. Princess is grubby from the 9 hour flight. (Photo credit: Princess Reese)

 

 

Pumula is Zulu for “to relax” or “lie down and rest”. And how fitting after such a long journey! This is the name of our hotel accommodations.

The view walking into Puluma Self-Catering Accomodation

The view walking into Puluma Self-Catering Accommodation. (Photo Credit: Princess Reese)

In South Africa, Namibia, and the UK: Elevators are called “lifts”.

Restrooms/bathrooms are referred to as “toilets”. Although it would seem impolite to call them this in the states, when you think about it, it’s actually a really direct way to ask for what you need. Our driver, a young Namibian with an Afrikaner surname told us a beautifully illustrated joke about a South African visiting the US and eating a taco for the first time. Hilarity ensues when he is asked if he would like a napkin for “the big mess”.

A diaper is a “napkin” and a napkin is a “serviette”. Do NOT make the mistake of asking for a napkin at a diner. You will be looked at, maybe glanced at twice, and then asked to clarify why you would need a diaper immediately after eating.

A safari is a “trip” in Kiswahili. While chatting with a woman on the bus that took us to our last plane, Maurice and Joanne were encouraged to take a ‘safari’ to the coast. Confused, they were wondering what safari options were available before quickly being told that a safari could happen anywhere, any time.

Our safari into downtown London. Note the beautiful black taxi cabs.

Our safari into downtown London. Note the beautiful black taxi cabs. (Photo Credit: Princess Reese)

Hurrah to colorful language that we did not grow up using, but has already made us feel like we are learning!

Hurrah to learning new things and working to soak in as much as possible!

Hurrah to this miraculous safari!

 

-Princess

But… I’ve Never left the Continent!

Princess Reese

Women and Gender Studies/Anthropology Double Major

Cares about people and the place they’ve lived.

Loves sitting on grass.

princesstfachair

To me, this is the trip of a lifetime. Up to this point my life has been full of meaning, surrounded by people and circumstances that challenge me to constantly grow. But (and big BUT, it is)  I have never been away from home in quite the same was. I spent a month traveling to American EcoVillages completely alone, made camping trips work with the just the bare essentials, wrote a business plan for a community center, and even filmed, edited, and produced  a documentary (all things I never thought I’d do before college)! But I have never left. Not this far away, and not for this long.

 

Going on this trip we have Ms. Melannie Cunningham,  a staff member who has visited multiple African countries nineteen times,

melannieinpink (Photo Credit: Julie L Anderson photos)

Mrs. Joanne Lisosky, a faculty member who has lived in Africa for a collective six months,

joanne

a Maurice Byrd (left) , student who served in the military and experienced several deployments, and Shunying (right), a student from China who has been in America for the entirety of her college career.

shunyingandmaurice

Then there’s Andrea (right)  and I, two women who have never left North America, let alone traveled 9,600 miles to Africa.

andreaprincess

And even though we are nervous beyond our minds, the group we have is made of such resolve and grit that we know we are capable of dang near anything we want.

The stories of those nine are calling to me. They are telling me that even though we may be nervous, even though we have a lot to learn, there is much that we can do. I am waiting with bated breath to finally have those plane tickets in hand, prepared to leave the continent for the first time, knowing that we will all change in small ways. We will grow with the work we are doing, and come back with changed perspectives. Although not all of us know quite what to expect, we are ready.

 

Let’s get going,

princesspharoah

-Princess