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Sources of Self-Esteem

A Treatise on “Sources of Self-Esteem in Namibia” subtitled “Sera Plays God”
5 August 2004

“Oftentimes a volunteer in a foreign country can become overwhelmed with feelings of incompetence. This can be a result of cultural blunders, the complete lack of foreign friends, or learners that don’t seem to learn, making the volunteer feel inept at teaching. To counter these feeling of low self-esteem, an innovative volunteer can engage in certain activities that will surely uplift the spirit such as giving spelling tests and owning chickens.”

I gave the first spelling test of my English-teacher career last week. I should have thought of this much sooner. The learners were rapt in concentration as the words tumbled from my mouth on high. Before each new proclamation, they cocked their heads sideways, pencils poised above their paper, waiting for the next word to spell. “Squalor” I would declare, and in unison they would bend over their papers and put the divine word into writing. Albeit, some syllables or consonants were lost or transposed, but I doubt Moses on Mt. Sinai put more effort into transcribing the words of his teacher.

In addition to spelling tests, chicken ownership is another good confidence booster. There is nothing more gratifying than coming home from a hard day’s teaching and being besieged by mid-sized, ratty chickens running from every yard. I like to toy with them, just to demonstrate my supreme power over their food supply. I slowly walk to the door, slowly turn the key and unlock it. Then, misunderstanding their eagerness, I bring out the water jug and poor a bit into their empty water bowl, rinse the sand out, and fill it up to the brim. Next, followed by the insatiate chickens, I go back into the house and wait a minute or two, seemingly confused by their dissatisfaction with the water. Finally, I fill up an empty peanut butter jar with corn and pour it over them, like manna from heaven.

And to work through those occasional bad moods, I can just bully our obese rooster. He likes to stand right next to the door and let out a big COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOOO, so that it echoes all through the house (his version of singing in the shower, I guess). Then, to his surprise, Zeus hurls a thunderbolt at him, and he has to waddle off on his chubby thighs before he gets pummeled with the empty peanut butter jar (it’s plastic).

Of our 14 pre-pubescent chicks, 2 of them are all white. Luckily, one is a rooster and one is a hen. So I’m thinking of starting a chicken eugenics program and breeding all white chickens. The motley ones are dinner.

Love Sera

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