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Davis International Fellow 2010: Merretta Dickinson in Namibia

Posted on October 18, 2010

Davis International Fellow Merretta Dickinson ’12 went to Windhoek, Namibia, for the summer of 2010 to intern at the Bernhard Nordkamp Center.  The center provides after-school programs for local children, as well as weekend sports and choir programs.

Merretta remembers her time in Namibia fondly:

"The summer of 2010 I was able to spend two months volunteering/interning at the Bernhard Nordkamp Center in Windhoek, Namibia thanks to a Davis International Fellowship. I lived just a 20 minute walk from the Center, in the neighborhood of Katutura. Katutura is the part of the city that was designated for the black Namibians during the Apartheid, and it remains today the poorest part of the city.

Namibia is an amazing and wonderful country!On my weekends I was able to travel to the north of the country to go on a safari, and to the coast to see the ocean.

My weeks were spent volunteering (as well as most Saturdays) at the Center: tutoring children who needed extra help in school, and teaching 1st grade. The woman I worked for, MaryBeth Gallagher, started the program as an educational center just a few months before I got there (before that it had just been an after school center). Work was from 1 PM until around 5 PM, Monday thru Friday, and Saturdays were spent helping out with the “Galz and Goalz” soccer program that MaryBeth runs (I even got to be a “mommy” on “mommy and me day”!).

The kids were so much fun, and they love to have new volunteers! Getting to walk in the gates everyday and get surrounded by kids hugging me was an amazing experience! The teaching was not hard, and it was entirely run by volunteers. The focus is on math and English, as there are kids in 7th grade who cannot read at all.

In the end, this was an experience that I would not trade for anything in the world, and I cannot wait to go back!"

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