down by the river.

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The Kavango River: separating Namibia from Angola.

It still amazes me how different the landscapes are as you travel through Namibia. This weekend I spent some time in Rundu. I knew I was getting closer to town when I saw vivid green foliage, traces of water from recent heavy rains, and elephant crossing signs. Yes, seriously. I live in a country where elephants and people can cross paths (although, it wouldn’t be a great idea). How crazy is that?

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One of the many beautiful peacocks roaming around Camp YEAH over the weekend.

Each year volunteers in the Kavango Region host Camp YEAH. YEAH stands for Youth Exploring and Achieving in Health. The camp focuses on educating youth about the risk of HIV/AIDS and other issues affecting youth such as teen pregnancy. Volunteers and counterparts select motivated learners from their communities to participate.

This year, we will be introducing this camp to Ovamboland, creatively rebranding the name to Camp O-YEAH. Camp O-YEAH will be held during the first week of May. I have been put in charge of getting all the kitchen/nutrition stuff in order for camp. Since this is my first time being on the operations side of any camp, I figured this was a great opportunity to check out Camp YEAH, but also see how a camp kitchen is run.

When I completed my dietetics degree, I never thought I would use any food management concepts again. Not because I would never need to, but because I never wanted to EVER again. (Never say never, my friends!) I fell in love with the community health aspect of dietetics, and not so much with the food management or clinical side of it. Dietetic professionals know that creating menus to feed the masses takes a lot of time, math, tears, and preparation. Move to Namibia and add in converting everything from US to metric, and it turns into one heck of a good time.

I watched as a team of two volunteers with the assistance of a few locals cook and serve three meals per day to approximately 50 campers and staff. I was thoroughly impressed and mostly relieved that some school kitchens in Namibia are equipped with appliances found in commercial kitchens in the States. (They had a tilt skillet, y’all).

Mariah and Winnie cooked and introduced delicious new foods to the campers while reminding volunteers of the yummy foods we sacrificed for two years.

 

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Delicious cheese…oh, and chili.

 

For me, planning six days, 17 meals including 5 tea breaks, and 50 expected attendees will make anyone want to pull their hair out, but I think it will turn out just fine.

 

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Speaking of hair, do you like my new style? Can’t beat a new look for $10 USD.

 

❤ Krystal

 

rustlin’ up some grub.

There are a few life lessons to be learned from watching The Lion King. Particularly, “grubs are slimy yet satisfying.”

Every day of my PC Namibian life is an adventure. I learn so much from the children I share a home with. They are so adventurous and fearless. But, aren’t most children?

Yesterday’s adventure led me to oshuungu from a nearby mopane tree.

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In many countries, edible insects, such as grubs and caterpillars offer a source of nutrition as well as income. Dried mopane worms have 2-3x more protein than beef by weight. 100 g of dried mopane worms contain about 430 calories and 50-60 g of protein. For comparison, 100 g of cooked beef is about 290 calories and 25 g of protein. Since mopane worms feed on healthy green foliage, they contain many of the required vitamins as well as significant amounts of fat, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and other minerals.

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My host siblings think it’s funny when I do things that really only children do in the village. Things such as running barefoot through puddles, hanging upside down from trees and getting excited to gather oshuungu provide pure entertainment and laughs from all.

Over the weekend, my youngest host brother, Mengela, was out playing and came home with branches filled with plump mopane worms. I begged him to take me next time. Ask and you shall receive.

On Monday, Mengela escorted me to the mopane tree where he had collected his harvest. After giving him a boost into the tree, I stood below, nervous yet excited to collect my very own mopane worms. As Mengela climbed from branch to branch, I stood to assess the tree for worms at the ground level while collecting a few (okay, one) mopane worm(s) in my reach as Mengela climbed his way up and through the tree limbs.

He climbed higher and higher, yelling, “Meme Krystal take,” and as he tossed down branches with mopane worms munching on the bright green leaves, something dawned on me.

“Mengela,” I shouted, “are there snakes in this tree?”

“No,” he responded firmly from above.

Not even a minute later, I saw slithering movement from the corner of my eye.

“Mengela, it’s a snake,” I squealed.

I watched as it dangled from a lower tree limb trying to hold on. But, it was too off balance and dropped to the ground. Once on the ground, it’s lateral undulation caused it to quickly blend into the grass below.

I ran quickly away. Everyone is safe.

Here’s a recipe for mopane worms:

After cleaning, heat oil in a pan and fry your mopane worms until their done.

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❤ Krystal

 

stop saying, “there are children starving in africa.”

You’ve probably heard this a time or two growing up as your parent’s way to guilt you to join the “Happy Plate Club.”

I may even be guilty of repeating this.

There is so much harm, confusion, manipulation in this statement.

What is the message we are trying to relay?

Children starving so let’s help them by eating all your food.

Do you want to become a starving child by skipping one food group?

Why Africa?

Africa is a continent. Namibia, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, Zimbabwe and 46 others are countries in Africa.

I don’t have children, so I honestly could be speaking out of turn, but I do not think to teach our children (nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.) that disparities such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, rape, child trafficking, only happen to other people in other places on the globe. I think this is why so many of us lack compassion. We have the illusion that these problems are never our problems.

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are starving children in ugh– Africa. But, there are starving children in America.

If it’s one thing I have learned living in Namibia, is that Namibians don’t waste food! Foods that may seem taboo to most Westerners are edible and eaten here. I’ve tried cow lungs, chicken feet, along with an unidentifiable mutton curry and people I encounter on a daily basis are not starving or malnourished. They simply use everything God has given them. They don’t waste.

We need to stop using this statement as a scare tactic to have children not waste food. It’s insensitive and caters to a false stereotype about Africa. Africa; Namibia, and other countries have their problems, but America does too.

I can only imagine the tables turned and a parent telling their child, “Finish your food, there are wasteful children in America.”

food: the universal language.

Food: The Universal Language by: Krystal Wright

Submitted by: Krystal Wright

Deborah Gillespie, MS, RD/LD

In the field of dietetics, it is difficult to be all knowing in the ever-changing and expanding science of nutrition. Toss into the mix a military family and recreation and one may find it even harder to find a good balance. I had the opportunity of interviewing Ms. Deborah Gillespie to pick her brain about her experiences as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Everything from the pathway she has taken to become a dietitian, to the mentors who have inspired her and guided her under their wings, to the most rewarding aspect in her work.

 “Providence moves when you follow your passion.”- Byron Davis, former Olympic swimmer

 Ms. Deborah Gillespie is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and has been for over 20 years. Following her passion as a formally trained dancer, Deborah originally had intended to study Communication and Music at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It wasn’t until a family member was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes that she realized her true interest in nutrition and decided to change her focus to Home Economics and Consumer Sciences- Dietetics earning her bachelor’s degree and continuing on the earn her master’s in Medical Dietetics from Saint Louis University.

 “You cannot buy your health; you must earn it through healthy living.”- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., board-certified family physician, author of Eat to Live, and nutritional researcher

 Deborah’s education fully prepared her to take on her role as a dietitian. She was a teacher’s assistant during her graduate studies at Saint Louis University and began working in an oncology research lab thereafter. She has be able to expand her dietetics portfolio by working and specializing in public health, women’s health focusing mainly on weight management and gestational diabetes, community clinics, research labs and even consulting. Deborah believes that health begins with what is put on your plate, which she has shown through her involvement in food education, health-risk research, and experiences ranging from food preparation to clinical work.

With the field of dietetics having such endless possibilities and countless focuses, Deborah mentioned that staying proficient in every aspect of nutrition is one of that hardest parts of her job. Due to the fact, there is a large umbrella that covers dietetics; there is always so much to learn. With the employment trends emerging in dietetics she believes that nutrigenomics- the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression, the focus and shift of using more functional food groups and superfoods, and the merging of the food service industry with clinical nutrition will open up the doors for new dietitians entering the field.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”- Julia Childs, American chef, author, and television personality

Having the fortune and flexibility to work part-time as a Registered Dietitian has been a major benefit for Deborah. Being a military wife, the flexibility has played in her favor when her family has relocated to several places in the United States and even overseas. Although it requires a lot of time and planning to balance her family and work, she has had amazing opportunities to travel and enjoy food cultures around the world and even took classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Acquolina in Venice and Cucina Italiana in Soignies. She admits that her favorite foods include almost anything with pesto. Along with expanding her culinary knowledge, she also serves in local food banks throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with a helping hand and educational insight to those less fortunate. Helping people and being fully engaged in the present is how she continues to keep balance and find reward in her work. Seeing people change their health and change their lives by reducing or eliminating medicines is also a great reward, in her opinion.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”- James Beard, American chef and food writer

To put it simply: Food is universal and touches everyone. Although our foods may look different and be prepared differently, it’s the common link to every living thing. In addition to learning something new practically every day, Deborah’s passion for nutrition, food, and dietetics comes down the fact that it links us all together, even stating that it’s our “common ground.” A mentor she met during her previous work was Dr. Nixon. He was one of the first nutrition advocates she met during her work. She respected the fact that he would exhaust all nutrition solutions prior to offering a prescription to his patients.

 The field of dietetics can be very rewarding to those who enjoy flexibility, creativity, and most importantly serving others. With the increasing knowledge and research in nutrition, in addition to the role it plays with healthcare, those with an open-mind and increasingly thirst for knowledge are more likely to succeed in this profession. Taking advantage of opportunities before graduation, such as volunteering at a local food bank, women’s center, and gaining hands-on experience yield the best chances for excelling in the field. Having “people skills” such as being a good communicator, empathic, and organized are also very helpful.

From my interview with Deborah, I have realized that a dietitian is really a profession based on serving the needs of others. The reward of having healthy clients exceeds monetary reward. There are several career paths you can take when you become a dietitian- from research to consulting to clinical work. The possibilities are really endless. I enjoyed getting to hear about what dietetics has to offer for me in the future.

Beard, James. (1974) Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdoms from the Dean of American

Cooking. New York City, New York: Knopf.

 Childs, Julia. (1975) From Julia Child’s Kitchen. New York City, New York: Gramercy.

 Fuhrman, M.D., Joel. (2003, 2011) Eat to Live. New York City, New York: Hachette Book Group.

 Roll, Rich. (Producer). (2013, February 1). RRP# 14: Byron Davis: The Rich roll Podcast. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.richroll.com/podcast/14-byron-davis/

career assessment report.

This year I decided to return back to school to studying dietetics after spending four years in the corporate world. I decided to pursue this career field based on my personal interests and character strengths. 1) I have a passion for health and fitness, mainly through nutrition health. 2) I love serving others, and helping them reach their personal goals. 3) I love learning new things, and dietetics is an ever-evolving science with new techniques and facts emerging every day.

My main areas of interest include sports nutrition emphasizing collegiate sports.  After obtaining my DTR, I plan to continue my education to become a Registered Dietitian. Being a former collegiate-athlete, I recognize the importance to nutrition when competing in events. By being about to work hand-in-hand with student-athletes and parents, I will be able to teach the importance of nutritional health and how it direct effects physical health, especially when meeting demands of competing at high levels of competition.

General Dietetics Specific
Work Experience (not  related to dietetics)

Chesapeake Energy Corporation- Land Technician, September 2010- July 2013; Paycom Payroll, LLC. – Payroll Specialist, November 2009- September 2010; Bath and Body Works- Sales Associate, August 2010- September 2012

Work Experience (related to dietetics)
General Skills

Organization

Time Management

Event Management

 

Dietetics Specific Skills (skills you learned from dietetics classes or work)
Volunteer Experience (not  related to dietetics)

Read2Win Fort Worth- Volunteer Reader; SWITCH- Leader

 

Volunteer Experience (related to dietetics)
Club/Activities (not related to dietetics)

Oklahoma City Landrunners Running Club,

Club/Activities (related to dietetics)

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics- member, current

Award/Certificates Received (not related to dietetics)

 

 

Award/Certificates Received (related to dietetics)
References (not related to dietetics)

 

References (related to dietetics)

dietetic technician program

bountiful harvest.

Mahangu, porridge, pap, oshifima. Chances are you will see me use these words a lot over the next two years.

Mahangu is one of many traditional foods in Namibia. It is prepared in some form or fashion in most Namibian households. On my homestead, it’s used daily to make oshikundu (a traditional drink) and oshifima (a stiff porridge used as you would a dripping bread).

 Several times throughout the year, my host brothers head to the farm to harvest mahangu. They have been at least twice since I’ve moved in. All I know is 1) “The Farm” is very far away 2) Harvesting mahangu is very, very hard work. Mahangu is harvested and then pounded down to create a flour-like product which is then used to make oshifima.

Before I get too ahead of myself, here are a few Cultural Fun Facts I wish I would have known sooner, and I am sure other PCVN can relate.

Fun Fact #1– It is considered rude to smell your food before you eat it. Still trying to break this habit.

Fun Fact #2– It is rude to refuse food. You can usually say something along the lines of thank you, but I ate, I am full.

Fun Fact #3– It is traditional to wash your hands before you eat (and also hygienic). At a family meal, we pass around a wash basin filled with soap and water for us each to wash our hands.

Fun Fact #4– You should only eat oshifima with your right hand. Whoops again!

Fun Fact #5– When offering a homemade food or drink, it is customary to taste it in the presence of the person. It shows that it is indeed nawa to consume, kinda like a modern-day wine bearer, but of your own offerings.

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Making porridge to feed the pigs. Every man, woman, child and animal eats mahangu around here.

 

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I should really stop becoming friends with potential Namibian entrees.

This weekend my host family celebrated a season of a bountiful harvest of mahangu.

We all gathered around the coffee table.

We feasted on oshifima and goat meat.

It was delicious.

I can compare this experience to what we do in America on Thanksgiving. It’s a huge celebration. There is singing and prayer and lots of laughter.

Unfortunately, my host mom was not home at the time due to a death in the family. So, my host sister, Lucia prepared most of the meal with the help of my brothers to braai (similar to BBQ) the goat meat.

As we sat around a crowded coffee table rejoicing over the abundance of oshifima and meat for dinner, I began to realize how thankful I am for a family who has accepted me into their house as their own.

Although there is still a period of transition for me between Fort Worth to Okahandja and now Ondobe, I am at HOME.

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❤ Krystal