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Kim Laufenberg
Works at Peace Corps
Attended UW-Platteville
Lives in Katima-Mulilo, Namibia


Kim Laufenberg

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And more pictures from Kim received sometime in July 2015

Kim Laufenberg

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Kim Laufenberg originally shared:
Letter received on 03/02/15 shared to blog:
If you feel inclined to send me something, the following items would rock my world:
Tea (any kind)
Trail Mix
Pens (black or red)
Reading material (books, magazines, etc.)
Maple Syrup
Girl  Scout Cookies (IT  WOULD BE EPIC!)
Funny pictures
In all honesty though, letters are the best.  : > )

Kim Laufenberg

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Hey everyone!
Since Kim is in Namibia with basically zero internet access, she has sent a letter to her family and wanted us to update everyone on how she's doing and what she's been up to so far.  This message is being presented to you by the excellent ladies named Mary Laufenberg (Kim's mother) and Sally Haskins (Kim's friend).

IN NAMIBIA!  Holy buckets of excitement.  So a brief lowdown of the flight over...
-2:30am wake-up with my parents to drive to the airport
-ran in to Rico, a friend from the drop zone, in Chicago (sheer coincidence!)
-met up with some other volunteers in Philadelphia and split a shuttle bus to the hotel for a night
-2am wake-up to take a bus to the JFK airport
-15 hour flight to Johannesburg, including multiple airplane walking routes and yoga routines
-one more flight to Windhoek
-FINALLY a 3 hour bus ride to the training center

Upon arriving, my group of 49 volunteers was greeted by the staff which were singing native songs.  I think between the lack of sleep and sheer happiness of finally being there, I nearly broke in to tears.  The staff made us a tunnel to walk through as they serenaded us.  I danced my way down, of course.  I haven't slept that hard in years. It was glorious.

For the past five nights, I've been staying in a dorm style complex.  It's been wonderful to get to know the other volunteers. They all are epic people, very open minded and as excited as me about everything.  I've had running partners every morning (because, yes, I'm training for a marathon here!) and I taught a yoga class on a Sunday afternoon!  Loving life!

Thus far, the food has been good.  Lots of starch and meat.  I won't lie, I miss fruits and chocolate, but everything tastes great.  I know this will sound crazy, but it's been freezing in the mornings/nights.  If I wasn't from Wisconsin, I swear I'd be numb in the morning.  Yet by mid-afternoon, it's in the 70s (it's winter, by the way, so come summer time...I'll be sweaty!).

Today was a pretty epic day.  First I found out that I will be learning Silozi, one of the eight native languages.  This language is only spoken in the Caprivi region which is the pan handle of Namibia.  I'm SUPER excited about this.  That area is near Victoria Falls and not too far from Etosha National Park.  Traveling will happen!  Also, I met my host family today.  They speak English and Africans.  I met the mom, Lydia, and one of the sons, Marvellous.  There is another son and a daughter as well.  This will be my next transition tomorrow to their home, where I will be living for 9 weeks.

I'm excited for the next part in my adventure and will keep you all posted on future experiences.  Miss you all!


Kim Laufenberg

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First official post! And likely one of few I will be typing myself. So it's less than two weeks before I leave......HOLY BUCKETS! Luckily I'm keeping super busy, so I really only think about it before bed and when I'm driving. Cannot believe I'll be in Africa soon!

So major preparation has gone underway this summer. A thousand medical checks, loan deferment, constant learning about the country of Namibia: creatures, foods, cultural norms, etc. Not to mention saying goodbye to dozens of friends. I haven't even started packing yet! Whoops, but I have off work next week, so I will spend a whole day on that then.

I know many people have said they want to come over and visit. While I know that's a slim possibility, I did get the school schedule yesterday, so here's when I have time off which will be in between trimesters when I'm not teaching: end of December - beginning of January, end of April - beginning of May, end of August - beginning of September. Within the first year, I don't plan on traveling too much as I want to acclimate to the area, but afterwards I definitely plan on traveling through Namibia and South Africa. If you do want to visit, give me a year first and please let me know way in advanced so I can get time off then and arrange for a place for you to stay.

Adventure is out there!
Chantal Sherer's profile photoMarisa Aderman's profile photoKim Laufenberg's profile photo
Thanks you guys! Miss you all tons and say hi to everyone for me! I am doing great. Officially settled into my hut and getting into routine at site. More to come and Missy a letter should be enroute or with you soon :)

Kim Laufenberg

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Kim Laufenberg originally shared:
Why I joined the Peace Corps:
Before I had left nearly six months ago, I had been posed with the question above (at least a dozen times).  There is no simple answer for the question, but now I think I am ready to tackle the meaning of this experience for me.
I have had an amazing life thus far.  I have a family which I truly love and has supported me through many things.  There have been some crazy friends along the way who have taught me a lot and given me guidance when I have been in need of it.  I have had a great education and opportunity to explore other hobbies and interests along the way.
Yet in drawing a close to college, I felt stir crazy.  Not as in uncomfortable because you are graduating soon and entering the real world, but unsettled because I could feel deep in my bones that wasn't where I was meant to be.  I had a job offer as an engineer with a great company, but I knew if I accepted it, I would be letting myself down.  There was something more out there calling for me.
About two years before graduating, I started to look into the Peace Corps.  The instant I read their ID core expectations, I just thought, "That's exactly how I want to live my life."  But I was 22 and never had left the US.  Before, how would I ever be accepted?  One thing, I have definitely learned from the experience is:  Life just works out sometimes.
I wanted more than the corporate world.  I wanted a true challenge.  A challenge that wouldn't easily be overcome yet would be a trial nearly everyday.  I write this while eating a box of cookies to overcome a rough couple of weeks.  My days can be immensely hard.  Not in dealing with deadlines or report expectations but handling not having easy access to water for three days or being asked by students for food because they don't have any.  Simply making through a day, sometimes feels like a major accomplishment.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I value going through this.  Beyond the initial challenge, I also wanted to travel and explore more.  Explore not just in a physical sense, but also emotionally.  While I was in college for a while, I felt so rushed in deciding what I wanted to do potentially for the rest of my life.  I have so many interests, is there really just one thing meant for me?  I needed more time because ultimately I want to give any job 100%.  I want to truly enjoy what I'm doing and wake up everyday wanting to go to work.
I guess I really wanted to figure out what's next in my life and where I belong.  I know I'll always love to travel, but I've learned so much from my experience thus far and have only more to go.  Everyone paves their own path in life and has the ability to alter it in whichever direction they choose.  Currently my path takes me through Namibia where I have learned:
     - Patience (It gets you through long lines and allows you to communicate better with others especially in other languages)
     - Be flexible (now never means now and sometimes it's just good to go with the flow.)
     - Celebrate the little things (Just did all my laundry by hand. WIN!)
     - There's always tomorrow (AKA not everything has to be done today, except maybe dishes, because of the ants.)
   And lastly, but not leastly:
     - Believe in the good of things (Yes, bad things happen.  AKA I had friends robbed in Windhoek, but you can't let that define everyone or you'll miss out on small epic opportunities)

I hope this gives you a better gauge on my experience and why I joined the Peace Corps.  Until next time ...


Kim Laufenberg

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Kim Laufenberg originally shared:
I have another letter from Kim postmarked 10/20/2014 that she would like to have viewed on the blog.  That is as follows:
"Mulumele! or Hello!  Officially sworn in and at site.  This is actually week three already.  I absolutely love it.  The hut life is certainly epic.  My hut actually has electricity ... mind blowing!  The Ministry of Education provided a stove, fridge, lawn table & chairs, wardrobe and a bed.  I couldn't ask for more.  Over my bed hangs a mosquito net thereby making it look like a canopy bed, haha.  The hut itself has mud walls and a thatched roof.  Chicken wire is stapled all around the roof to seal the gap between the mud walls and roof to keep out the critters.  I love it!  With a thatched roof versus zinc, it's never unbearably hot (though it's still hot).  Worse case, I freeze a bottle of water and cuddle it at night to keep cool.  : - )
I also have a Grade A quality pit lactrine.  I don't know how else to describe it.  It's sealed in cement with a toilet seat and is surrounded by reeds with a tin roof and door.  The engineer in me made me build a wooden shelf and clothes line from collected branches.  The wooden shelf holds my soap and rubber ducky.  For bathing, I have another reed enclosure behind my hut.  There, I bucket bathe which actually is enjoyable to me now.  There is a 5 foot opening though so public nudity does happen.  But that is normal in Africa; right?
The school itself is quite small (174 learners).  It is great though.  The teachers are so kind.  Right now, I am mainly shadowing teachers but I have taught a few classes as well.  Learners are so shy.   It is going to be a challenge to get them to participate but discipline shouldn't be as much of an issue.  The school has a water tap right next to it which is what I use.  So I have to walk approximately 500m from my hut to get water.  I fill my huge water jug once a week for dishes (washed in buckets) and then for bathing which I carry a bucket on my head!  When in Africa ....
The  area itself looks like what you would envision of Africa:  grassy savannah, scattered trees and lots of sand.  Yet, that will all change in two months.  Once the rainy season hits, the area becomes immensely green and lush.  Floods even occur.  But most exciting, all sorts of animals roam about!  I have already seen elephants and baboons.  I still keep up with my running schedule, even though I sweat buckets.  Yoga also is done everyday but now with a bunch of kids.
All in all, life is good.  Other volunteers in my area have truly become my second family.  I am excited to begin teaching and there are many more adventures to come!
Musiyale Hande
Kim Laufenberg

Kim Laufenberg

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Another letter received on September 8th from Kim to be posted on her blog:

U Cwani?  Ni Hande!  (How are you?)  (Fine!)  Just throwing a little of Silozi at you.  So it has been three weeks already!  Crazy to think it is only been that long.  I already have a routine here and feel soo connected to my fellow volunteers and host family.  It is so epic.  Even had a marriage proposal on the street.  Haha, I guess that is typical for female white volunteers.
Last week, I had an interesting situation.  My host mom wakes up at 5 am everybody because she is a chef and has to prep food and start cooking.  Therefore, I also wake up at 5 am as does everyone else in the household.  I waited a couple of days before I bathed just to meet the family more and prep myself.  So my third morning there, I planned on finally washing up.  I woke up to find a water main had burst and there was no water.  I felt unclean and had no means to fix it for the first time in my life.  It was certainly a learning experience.  Don't worry.  I had a huge bucket and used a water heater, normally used for tea/coffee to boil some water to heat the tap water.  It was still a very cold bath, but a well needed one.
I've also had power outages as well in which case I ended up teaching my host brother yoga by candlelight.  It is always wonderful.  In all honesty, everything I've seen thus far is way more developed than I expected.  WIFI exists in most cities.  Families have TVs and electricity and most people own cell phones.  Talk about mind blowing.
Language lessons are long but fun  My trainer, Momma Rosa is in her sixties and full of energy.  She continues to push me further to develop my language skills.  I find myself laughing nearly every class, plus she gives us chocolate occasionally!  mmm chocolate.
Last night all the volunteers got together for an ultimate frisbee game.  It was wonderful to run around and just have fun.  Deana and Keenan opted to seek out some ice cream during the game and ate it.  I very much appreciated them.  Next week we are having a movie night ... the Lion King of course.  I found out this week Hakuna Mata is Silozi (my language!) and it does mean no worries!
Every Monday and Friday morning, we sing the Namibian, US and Africian national anthems as well as some native songs.  It is wonderful, though I am likely not saying half of it correctly.  Oh well, I still love singing.  Today, there was a random dance party in between classes.  It was epic.  I learned new dance moves.
Some of the things I've learned about this week:  relationships in Namibia, HIV and corporate punishment.  The proper way to hug was demonstrated, which I found very funny and was smiling the whole sessions.  Basically, don't hug for too long and give a slight gap between the two people.  Also PDA (public displays of affection) are not acceptable.  In one of the tribes, it is not unusual for cousins (not first) to get married.  As for HIV, it is certainly a serious issue here and was nice to be made aware of and how many are shunned when it is found out they have HIV.  Lastly, corporal punishment is widely used both at home and in schools which will certainly be a challenge to overcome when I start teaching.
Namibia is a beautiful place and I am excited to see what's in store for me next.  Saturday, we have a cultural day full of cooking and trying native foods.  (I'm going to eat soo much).  The pictures that are being put up with this post include in random order:  random dance party, trip to Windhoek meat market and expo (like a county fair), hamburger night (US style), photo shoot with my host brother and friends with bubbles, my current home, school visit, board of funny/interesting occurrences that have happened to volunteers, Herdes Monument, my host family, pics of Okahanja, random volunteers, the travel over and more.
Many more adventures to come and please feel free to write me letters and I wish you all well.


Kim Laufenberg

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Mom and Dad got your group picture from the Peace Corp this week.  There was also an article in the local newspaper about you and your adventure to Africa which we will save your reference.  Love you buckets and may God keep an eye on you.         Mom & Dad
Math Teacher
Degree: Environmental Engineering with Minors in Mathematics & Renewable Energy
  • Peace Corps
    Volunteer, 2014 - present
    I will be primarily teaching math and working on water purification systems. I also plan to travel throughout the country during my time off.
  • Alliant Energy
    Engineer, 2011 - 2014
    For three summers I've been an intern working under thermal performance, stragetic planning, and plant performance. Some of the projects I've worked on included developing a computer program for the ESP, finding alternative uses for bottom ash, and working on an SOP for MATS compliance.
  • Resident Assistant
    UW-Platteville, 2011 - 2012
    For a year and a half, I was a resident assistant (RA) on my college campus. Some of the job's duties included: programming, enforcing policies, engaging residents, effectively involving the students in multiple activities, and proper communication and leadership.
  • Marshalls
    Associate, 2008 - 2011
    My first year of college and then seasonally (winter and summer), I worked at Marshalls as a store associate. I typically stocked shelves, processed furniture, and answered customer's questions.
  • Laufenberg Farms
    Calf Manager, 2000 - 2010
    Pretty much all of my life, I have helped on our family farm. Normally this meant I took care of the calves, helped out with the pigs, cleaned the barns, and helped out wherever else I was needed.
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Katima-Mulilo, Namibia
Platteville, WI, USA - Christchurch, NZ - Ashton, WI, USA
Adventure is out there. Look to the future, learn from the past, but live in the present and follow your dreams.
Hey everyone! I originally created this blog to document my travels through New Zealand, but now it's for a much bigger purpose, my journey in the Peace Corps! So come the end of July, I will be traveling to Namibia to start my 27 months of service. There, my primary assignment will be teaching math. I have yet to find out what level I will be teaching at as well as if there will be any other volunteers in the village with me. Likely, I will be the only American there. I am super excited to begin this adventure and my mom will be using this blog to post pictures as well as letters which I will write her monthly to keep every posted on my experience. You are more that welcome to view and write comments to anything. My mom will print out posts and I certainly plan to respond, though it may take a couple months :) 
Bragging rights
Graduated UW-Platteville with a degree in Environmental Engineering, am an active skydiver, played rugby, practice acroyoga & yoga, and loves everything outdoors.
  • UW-Platteville
    Environmental Engineering, 2009 - 2014
    Graduated: May 2014 Minors: Renewable Energy and Mathematics
  • University of Canterbury
    Environmental Engineering, 2013 - 2013
    Study Abroad Attended: Spring 2013
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