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Coming Home: Namibia

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.


See more from Charles' service


This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

STEP 1 – Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.

STEP 2 – Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.

Thanks for reading. And here’s how you can support the work we’re doing to help evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers.