down by the river.


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?


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.



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.



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


❤ Krystal


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

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


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.


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



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.


❤ Krystal

how to take great notes and pass a really hard class with flying colors.

The last few weeks of summer have been spent with me working and trying to enjoy my time away from the books before Fall semester aka my last semester begins.

I successfully completed my Anatomy & Physiology I class with an A. (Which I couldn’t be prouder, since this was a retake to bring my grade up from a D.)

During this 8-weeks crash course, I developed a few strategies which I would like to share. Some of these are no secret. But, just helpful tips for anyone taking a difficult course. I am an auditory and visual learner. Auditory to the degree I can remember weird inflections in voices that help me remember information. I like to doodle, so I claim the visual learner title as well. Maybe, I am just weird, and this is way more information anyone needs to know before they read my tips. Okay, I’ll cut to the chase.

Tip #1- Read the text.

Yeah, that’s no secret. This semester I discovered my tolerance level to classmates that ask me questions or straight up ask for answers and they have not read the text or even opened their book for that matter. One girl even said, “I can’t find the answer and I didn’t want to read through 400 slides to find it.” I’m not going to lie, I somehow made my made through high school and most of my marketing/communications degree without reading many textbooks. But, for a complicated subject, reading the material (prior to class) is key. This is even more important during a shortened semester. Instructors expect you to be prepared before class, and quite honestly, it’s frustrating for them, as well as your classmates, when you ask questions which clearly tells you didn’t read any of the material.


Tip #2- Take notes.

When following Tip #1, take notes while you’re reading. I found it very useful to use 2 pens (one black and one blue) and 2 highlighters (I use blue and green). While reading on my own, I take notes in black ink and highlight in green. During lecture and lab, I would only take notes in blue ink and highlight in blue. For me, this helped me remember things that were discussed in class as opposed to on my own. This also helped with clarifying topics. For instance, there was a typo in our textbook which stated the chemical formula for glucose was C6H12O2 instead of C6H12O6. I brought this typo up in lecture and marked this in blue ink. For me, it helped to know this was corrected and addressed by the professor, so I should remember it now. I also used the same method when correcting my test.


20150711_144544Tip #3- Read your notes!!!

Notes are your condensed version of the main points and topics in the text. Read them! Review them!!!

Tip #4- Go to office hours, study groups, and labs.

Your tuition essentially funds lab tutors/mentors, office hours, and materials. GO TO THEM!!! I learned so much more than I needed to know for A&PI by going to our campus’ science lab. Each time I went, I had a one-on-one tutor helping me with the material, they even prepared me for topics before we went over them in my lecture. You’re already paying for these services, so go!


Tip #5- Communicate with your instructor.

Do not wait until the end of the semester when your grade is at stake. Come a few minutes early to class, stay a few minutes late. Ask questions, even if you know the answer. Email them when you have questions or concerns. On every test day, I got to campus at least an hour early to review. I was the only person there, but my instructor saw me every test day waiting in the hallway studying. Not saying this is why I passed this class, but instructors see students taking initiative.

Have a great semester!