Johanna Wilkie

Johanna Wilkie (Breaking the Wall of Silence in Windhoek): Johanna lived and worked in Rome, Italy for two years teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). After her return to hometown of Boston, she taught immigrants and college students ESL for two years before moving to Los Angeles to work as a program manager at a California non-profit. At the time of her fellowship, Johanna was studying for a Masters degree in international affairs and development at Georgetown University, and working toward a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. She also interned at the International Rescue Committee as an Africa Advocacy Intern.


10 May

I’m sitting in my tiny apartment surrounded by piles.  African history books and guides to the cultures of Namibia, boxes from Amazon filled with camera accessories, piles of clothes and shoes of which I will not be able to take even half, and above all, lists.  It is amazing how many to-do lists one person can write in a day.  But in this extremely busy last week of preparation for my summer in Namibia, the lists are necessary.

I am ecstatic about the opportunity Advocacy Project has given me to go to Windhoek to work with IANSA and Breaking the Wall of Silence on their “Disarming Domestic Violence” campaign.  This is my first chance to go to Africa and I can’t wait.  It’s also going to be my first experience working in a developing country, and that is both exciting and essential to my studies in international development.

But the fact is that because these experiences are firsts for me, I don’t really know what to expect.  This means that I have basically had first-day jitters for the last week, and they seem to be getting more intense as my departure date, June 1, gets closer (very close!).  I still don’t know a lot about the place I am going or what exactly I’ll be doing day-to-day.

I do know a few things about Namibia.  I have been reading guides and news articles online and talked to several friends-of-friends who have spent time there.  Here are the top four things people talk about:

–  Namibia is mostly desert and reputed to be incredibly beautiful. Many people go there on safari, as there is a huge variety of wildlife (lions, elephants, baboons, the whole nine yards).

–  It is one of the most unpopulated places in the world, with a population of only 1.8 million spread out over a space that is almost 4 times the size of the UK.

–  It is a middle-income country, but not everyone has benefited.  According to the UN, Namibia is one of the most unequal countries in terms of income distribution.

–  It was a German colony until the end of World War I, and then a part of South Africa until it became independent in 1990.  It is still dealing with the legacy of apartheid and the recent memory of its independence struggle.

These facts intrigue me.  I wonder what effect they have had on the people and their culture.  I have many questions, and most of them can’t really be answered until I get there and start talking with people.  I can’t wait to get started on my journey, and I look forward to telling you all about it.

Posted By Johanna Wilkie

Posted May 10th, 2009


  • Lech Kazmirski

    June 1, 2009


    What a charming profile picture! Take care of yourself out there and have life changing experiences. I look forward to reading about them here on the interweb!

    — Lech

  • Jade

    June 4, 2009


    And we can’t wait to hear all about it. You go girl!

  • Laura Gordon

    June 17, 2009


    Namibia is indeed awesome… absolutely stunning country, and a fascinating array of different ethnic groups. Have fun!

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    June 30, 2009


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    May 7, 2016


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