High School High
Saturday night was the “Miss Valentines Beauty Pageant” at the school. Rachel and my roommate and I were asked to be judges which, if you know any of the three of us, is totally hilarious. Beauty pageants pretty much represent everything I’m opposed to in life, but it was a fundraiser for the senior’s end of the year class trip, and since I’m totally incapable of saying no to any of these kids, I was there with bells on. Before the show started, we were instructed by the event organizers (aka, The Senior girls…yep, you know em) that we were to judge mostly on self-confidence and not on outfits, because very few of the girls could afford nice outfits. Okay… what? So during the swimsuit competition, obviously the girl who actually has a swimsuit to wear is more confident than the girl who is wearing her underwear because she can't afford a swimsuit. Same goes for the girl who has an evening gown that fits her as opposed to the one whose gown is safety pinned together and whose high heels are 3 sizes too big for her. And I’m supposed to judge this? I just gave them all eights across the board and called it a day. My friend Manly was the MC and my friend Michael was the DJ, so afterwards I stayed up until way past my bedtime and the kids tried to teach me their crazy, hip-hop Namibian dances.
After the dance, two boys from the soccer team came over to borrow my duct tape (thanks mom) to tape up their shoes, and invited me to come watch their soccer tournament the following morning. And of course, since I never say no, I promised I would. The tournament was at the nice private field in the location, usually reserved for government sponsored events, so there was actual grass for them to play on. There were five teams competing, including two private schools. And regardless of which team you were cheering for, our side was definitely the side everyone wanted to be on. People were playing music out of the backs of their cars, and we were all dancing and sucking on our bags of Oros. Though our players looked a bit like hooligans from the wrong side of the tracks next to the preppy private school kids in their clean white uniforms, I think the ripped shorts and duct-taped shoes my boys were sporting really added an intimidation factor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and we lost 3-2, but fun was most definitely had by all.
Although similar to many of my high school weekends, there was one incredibly big difference: every single aspect of these events, from the planning to the finding of arenas to the security and to the clean-up, was carried out by the learners themselves. There is pretty much zero parental involvement in most young people’s lives. Granted, most of these kids are hostel borders, meaning they live at the school and their families probably live in other towns not close by, but the fact that these kids can pull off well-organized and more-or-less successful events without any adult direction or support is what really sets them apart from kids in the states. Referring to them as “kids” is really a misnomer; often times, they seem much older than I.