Inspired by a former teacher, Katie set off to Peace Corps for an adventure and a chance to prove herself. She did both and more. This week, I talk with Katie McNamara about her time in Namibia, a country that’s twice the size of California while also being the second least densely populated place on earth.
Photos from Katie’s Service
Katie McNamara’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I served in Namibia from 2016 to 2018 as a math and science teacher in a rural village in one of the northern regions of Owamboland.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
During my training I was given the local name ‘Nelago’ which means lucky, which happened to be the same name as the principal of my school that I was assigned to. When I first arrived at school my Principal was on leave and I introduced myself at assembly in front of 700 students in the local language and told them my given Wambo name and basically the whole village laughed at me. First because… they couldn’t believe I could speak their language (or I just sounded funny) and second.. they were going to start calling me ‘Principal Nelago’. It was the most embarrassing and awesome moment that really made me dive right into my new community head first.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
I had a dog named Lucy who followed me everywhere and I loved her companionship… but so did many other male dogs, so she got pregnant. She had five adorable puppies on my birthday and it was very hard to watch her neglect them and have one of them not survive and I had to bury it. Definitely not a challenge I was expecting to have in the Peace Corps.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
I miss hanging out with my colleagues in the staff lounge dancing to ‘Omunye’ before school!
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
Never have expectations and get used to ‘Africa time’… it’s real. I learned PATIENCE.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share?
Tangi unene/ tangi unenenenenenene/ iyaloooo shiliiiii – those are all basically how you say thank you very very very much!
Learn more about Katie’s service: https://katiepcnamibia.wordpress.com/