Namibia | Charles Castillo
Home: Medford, New Jersey
Watch the video I put together about my unfinished business as a Volunteer and you’ll see and hear me speak a few different languages. The messages all begin: “How are you? My name is Charles Castillo.”
First, in American Sign Language. In Namibian Sign Language. In Oshiwambo, a language spoken in my community in Northern Namibia — where the question “How are you?” changes depending on the time of day: “Wa lala po” (morning), “Wu uhala po” (afternoon), and “Wa tokelwa po (evening) amuhe?”
Edhina lyandje oShali. My name is Charlie.
And in Afrikaans, also spoken in Namibia: Hoe gaan dit met almal? My naam is Charles Castillo.
For seven months I served as a Volunteer in northern Namibia, teaching information communication technology and art classes to deaf students. When we were evacuated, I left my students, my coworkers, and all the Namibian friends I made. If I am able to be reinstated as a Volunteer in my original site, then I will most likely go back. Otherwise, I would like to go back to Namibia as a grad student doing research on cross-cultural perceptions of and education of deaf people in the United States versus Namibia.
I hope Peace Corps continues to send Volunteers who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing or have ties to the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing community to countries where there are significant Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing populations. In serving these communities, I would like to see emphasis on strengthening local sign languages, as well as improving literacy. I would like for PCVs to help empower Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people: let them know that they are just as capable as hearing people in achieving their dreams, and to not let anything hold them back.
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