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!




Google Translate Teaches Human New Tricks

Andrea Capere

We have had the pleasure of meeting another Namibian who shares the Pumula Accommodations with us. Meet Sammy, our new production assistant:

Sammy the Yellow Lab

Sammy, a Yellow Labrador. Always has a smile on his face, always a team player. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere

Sammy often keeps us company in the afternoons and evenings when we hang around working. He lays on the kitchen floor keeping us company when we cook, hoping we’ll disobey the house rules of never feeding him (we always supply him with a big bowl of water when he comes by). When we’re feeling homesick, he’s always ready to lend a slobbery kiss or giant puppy hug.

Princess and Shunying with Sammy in the Cabin. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere

Princess and Shunying with Sammy in the Cabin. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere

I noticed when trying to tell Sammy to sit, stay, and shake he was not responding. Confounded, and also knowing our hosts are Afrikaaners, I put these words into Google Translate. I found that skud means shake in Afrikaans. I looked at Sammy and said, “skoood!” and he presented his paw to shake as his tongue hung out of his mouth. 

It’s been a lot easier working with Sammy now.


Sammy and I cuddle for the camera. Photo Credit: Shunying Wang

Shishi’s Great Adventure

Shunying Wang

A couple days ago, I was stopped at the international arrival in Luanda (my first stop before coming to Windhoek, Namibia). The officer flipped through my passport, looked at me, and asked for a transit visa. Of course they would ask me for a visa. It is always the problem with the visa! I stayed calm and told him that Emirates (my airline company) said no transit visa was required of me if I went through Luanda. Well originally I had planned to fly through Johannesburg to Namibia, but I was informed right before boarding that I needed a visa to Johannesburg. So the staff at Emirates immediately switched me onto a different flight transiting through Luanda instead because then I wouldn’t need a transit visa. But there I was, sitting at the entrance of the Passport Check in Luanda and waiting to hear back from the officers about what they wanted to do with me. An hour had passed, all I could see was staff members gathering together and chatting loudly in the hallway. They didn’t seem to be concerned about my situation at all…

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After I landed in Luanda. I was stopped at the passport check. Although the waiting was long and gave me a feeling of ennui, the view took my breath away.

Though I was not waiting alone. I met a girl named Reeha who could call me Dada (meaning sister in her language) and laughed at the funny faces I made to her; and I met a Chinese guy who was stopped because he didn’t fulfill his business visa requirements. After a short while, the Chinese guy left; then the little girl left with her parents as well. I was still waiting. I was the only one who was still waiting. But no one had come and said anything to me.

Finally a guy came to me. From his sweater and suit pants, I could tell that he was one of the staff. He walked over to where I was sitting and asked whether or not I could speak English. I thought he was giving me back my passport. But he just asked me some random questions that had nothing to do with my situation. Although, I appreciated the fact that he came over and chatted with me. It brightened me up a little when I heard him saying that I could speak good English and it sounded very understandable to him. If you don’t know me, I can tell you now that I was very flattered by his compliments and stopped complaining immediately. I shared with him that I was going to Namibia to make a documentary with some faculty members and colleagues from my school. He was surprised that I was entering Africa to make a film at the age of 21. He ended our conversation with a laughter and a simple sentence “you are still a child.” He had to go back to work. And I still had to wait.

When I got to the point where I was that I had to sleep in public. It was my first time sleeping on a bench in the airport so I felt a little cautious about it, but I was glad that it didn’t turn out to be a horrific experience. I did, however, wake up from a neck pain for not sleeping in a proper position. When I checked the clock, it was only 9 p.m. So I arrived at 3 p.m., checked in at 3:30 p.m., was stopped by the check-in at around 3:45 p.m., waited for 2+ hours, fell asleep at 6 p.m., and I only slept for 3 hours.  My connecting flight to Namibia was not leaving until the next day at 9:45 a.m., which meant that I still needed to wait for 12+ hours in Luanda’s airport. What an adventure I said to myself, and most of it was just waiting and finding things to do while my body was screaming for a nice bed to sleep in.

After counting the time and realizing that I still had a lot of time to kill at the airport, I decided to make a trip to the bathroom. When I returned, there were two staff members sitting by my spot. I thought they had good news for me at first, but then I figured out that they just wanted to chat. They started talking to me in broken English and being very curious about whether or not I was married. I was surprised that I almost got proposed by one. I wasn’t feeling unsafe, but I was shocked because I had never had to deal with a single enthusiastic African man who showed great interest in marrying me, even when he could hardly communicate with me. I didn’t think he was serious, so I just laughed and avoided the marriage topic that was brought up.

Then they left, it was only 11 p.m. I couldn’t be more creative besides sitting there and finding things to do. But my concentration level was poor due to the lack of sleep. I meant to stay awake and be productive to get some readings done, but the hours passed with a terrible slowness. Eventually I waited until 8 a.m. in the morning, but I just forgot how I managed it.

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Early in the morning, but there were still a lot of people waiting for the next flight. They were all hanging out at the only food place that was open.

When it was 8am, a new face found me and took me to get my boarding pass. He also handed back my passport, which was the moment when I knew I was finally free. Knowing that I would soon fly to Namibia excited me. But then I was disappointed one last time before I could leave Luanda because the flight was delayed for an hour!

In order to not get bored and fall sleep again, I started doing some people-watching. From what I had heard from Jan, a friend of ours who lives in Africa, all I could see was African women whose  hair was elegantly braided and also men in suit jacket, nicely fitting jeans, and polished shoes; even if it was in an airport. It was interesting for me to see how people lived differently in another part of the world, under cultures that were distinct from what I had grew accustomed to in the U.S.

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And there they were, standing in front of me and talking to each other in a language that I couldn’t understand.

The airplane that was taking me to my final destination, Windhoek, Namibia, arrived after about an hour.  I was glad that the extremely long layover in Luanda was coming to an end, but what had just begun that I felt most excited about, was the 3-week adventure I would have in Namibia.

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My long adventure in Luanda is coming to an end, but on the plane ride to Windhoek, I am excited about my next adventure!

It is about seeing; it is about learning; and it is about growing.


A New Adventure

Andrea Capere

It’s almost unbelievable that in less that 48 hours I’ll be on a plane headed to a completely different country, continent, season, and hemisphere. Just yesterday I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University, following in the same steps of Edwin and the others. It is surreal to be beginning a new challenge so suddenly. I have my passport and my itinerary. I have a phone with a Namibian number and power adaptors; these are the mundanities that make it real. So, I know I’m not imagining things.


Me, hugging one of my surrogate moms after graduating. Something Edwin, Penda, and the others probably did two decades ago. Credit: Nathan Roemmich

I am so fortunate and privileged to have this opportunity, and I only hope that I can learn from their life histories and I can help to tell their story respectfully. Filmmaking has always been a love of mine, and I think it is necessary to do so with social justice at the heart of it. That is the power of documentary film that I find so arresting – the power to help make the world a little more thoughtful and contemplative.

Nothing gets me more impassioned than a meaningful story. I still remember when Joanne asked me if I wanted to be a part of this thing. She knows how to make the pitch. She makes the hardest work sound phenomenal (and it usually is!). I am not one to turn down an adventure like the one I am about to embark on. This is the stuff independent filmmakers dream of.

When I think about the obstacles that The Nine faced I know there are few stories that are more meaningful to us now than equity, education, and social change. I never faced the realities of coming of age in a newly independent country that codified laws keeping Black Namibians out of higher education. However, I am not so naive to think that the United States has not had similar legal structures in place to disadvantage those of darker skin. After all, it’s not that long ago that the Brown v. Board of Education case was heard in our Supreme Court. We still feel the aftermath of education tracking even now in this country. This is a story not only meaningful to Namibia, but all over the world.

Pre Production

All of us, at the second to last meeting before flying out. Left to Right: Joanne Lisosky, Princess Reese, Andrea Capere, Maurice Byrd. Credit: Shunying Wang

So, no pressure.

I am feeling a lot of excitement mixed with a healthy dose of self-doubt. No complex storytelling project dependent upon technological and narrative skills is devoid of that. But I do know that nothing beats a hardworking, committed, enthusiastic, and open-minded team. And my fellow filmmakers have those qualities in spades.

Here’s to 20+ hours of plane travel, jet lag, learning, and a lot of the unknown.

❤ Andrea

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.


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,


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.


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


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,



About Namibia Nine

Namibia Nine is about the power of collaboration across borders, and the role that access to education plays in creating a more just world.

Edwin Tjiramba was a young man when he left post-apartheid Namibia for an education in the United States. Under apartheid rule, Black Namibians were barred from higher education. When the opportunity to study abroad at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA arose in the early 1990’s, he took it. “I was born in Namibia,” Tiramba said, “but my future was born at PLU.” Eight other students joined him throughout the decade.

Almost twenty years later, he is graduating with a law degree from the University of Namibia. Training in the field of law is fundamental to the shaping of young Namibian leaders. It provides the background necessary to ensure better opportunities than were available 30 years ago. ensuring that illegal rule never happens again in his country. His cohort are now working in all sectors, from forensics to foreign relations, changing the world for the better. It is a story about the power of education, and the agency of those who use it for good.