The writing of this book was a true collaborative effort in which raw and disorganized personal experience was translated into a coherent and poignant literary event. In order to effectively relate the graphic experiences of Gina Hutchins Inman during her experiences in Namibia, Africa, the professional services of her paternal aunt Dr.Karen Hutchins Pirnot were solicited. Gina's experiences were brought to Dr. Pirnot in the form of the children's notebooks and drawings as well as Gina's personal visual recollections. In order that readers could appropriately relate to these experiences, personal recollections needed to be transformed into organized experiences and the feelings and thoughts of the African children needed to be interpreted through professionally trained eyes.
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Gina Hutchins Inman is a German-American citizen. In her desire to give to those less fortunate than herself, she traveled to Owamboland, Namibia, Africa where she spent 8 weeks with the children of the Twaahililwa School. She enjoyed the simplicity of their life. "The greatest impact of all was the realization that when you give to others, expecting nothing in return, the gifts which come back to you are abundant and lasting." Inman did not know the language and knew little about the culture, but she willingly gave of herself. She found the people friendly and accepting. There are 260 'learners' in the school. This book is filled with their photographs. Inman shares notes from the children with readers. The learners were eager to help out. When Inman became tired, they wanted to massage her legs. Inman stayed with Meme Selma, the principal of the school and the Reverend of the church. Selma was instrumental in the rebuilding of the school after it was destroyed by war. The photographs bring her experiences to life on the pages. She shares information about the culture: what they eat, how they wash their clothing and how they share with each other. "The Learners of Owamboland" is a heartwarming book. We need more people like Gina Hutchins Inman, people that care enough about others to take risks.
The author spent a summer teaching in a stick hut in Namibia and it opened her eyes forever. She was ill prepared for the primitive conditions - no electricity, no plumbing, no books. But the students had enormous appetites for learning and they taught the teacher as she taught the students. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot (the author's aunt) skillfully relates the thoughts and feelings of the children as she and Ms. Inman collaborate to present a story which should be mandatory reading for all middle school children. The stories which accompany the text are something that will stay in your mind forever.