In mid June I received a request from Brand Eins magazine via Elke to interview me about my decision to take a sabbatical leave and my experiences in Mayana. I felt very honored that they were interested in my story and was even a little nervous about the interview. Via email I had set up an appointment with the journalist for a telephone interview the following Wednesday.
The interview started a little jolty because reception was somewhat tough – not on my end though which made me grin a bit. We tried instead a WhatsApp call which worked okay once we got used to the delay. First it was hard since you never knew if the person on the other end got the question or answer. I explained all about why I decided to take a sabbatical leave from work, how it was tough to find the right organization to place me in a project, why I chose the project in Mayana and am happy to support the cause of MCP. I was also questioned how I was coping with the basic living standards and the culture. The reporter also asked me if I would be the kind of person who could fall in love with the country and its people so much that I would brake off everything in Germany to relocate to Namibia permanently. I had to quote my dear friend Desi on that one: “If you should decide to act like this white Masaii lady, I’ll come down there personally and drag you back home!” Of course she also wanted to know how my employer took it that I was taking time off. I explained that I am very lucky to work for one of the biggest companies in Germany that has established programs for taking sabbatical leave and finding a replacement and how supportive my supervisors were. I am very happy that I didn’t have to quit my job like others who seek a breake from their job and am very fortunate to return in September to my job. After one hour and getting disconnected a few times, we ended the interview.
Besides receiving the reporter’s admiration for my courage to dive into an experience like that I was very pleased to also get a compliment on my blog from a professional! Maybe that’s a new career objective to look into once back home 😉
Naively I emailed the journalist after the interview if she needed any pictures she should feel free to contact me again. About a week after the interview I received a phone call from a Namibian number I did not know. When picking up I was totally confused because on the other end there was a woman speaking GERMAN. I was sure that it was someone from the embassy calling since I had put my contact details down on their website for emergencies so while scenarios of me leaving the country in the middle of the night because of a civic war or something or being put into jail because after all I was somewhat “illegal” in the country engaging in “business” while only on a holiday visa flashed before my eye, I totally missed who she was and why she was calling. Also I was not really prepared to talk German all in a sudden. After a while into the conversation I realized that she was a photographer hired by the magazine and trying to set up an appointment with me to come visit and take photos of me in Mayana. Wow! That was huge for me!
We agreed on the first weekend in July and I was soooo excited for the photo shooting. All week I was thinking about what would be interesting to take photos of and what we could stage. The photographer was going to arrive on Friday and leaving on Sunday which gave us plenty of time to take pictures – and lots of them. I really enjoyed working with her and loved the outcome of the pictures. I was also so happy to receive the fall-out pictures in the end since I didn’t have many pictures with me in yet. The photo-skills of people in Mayana were not the greatest after all. Using my camera was a challenge for most so after getting lots with my head cut off or just my knees in them I gave up on having people take pictures of me.
If you are interested in checking out the article and admiring me in my jammies just get the August issue of brand eins or click here to read “Die Umsteiger”. Meanwhile I will be enjoying my 5 minutes of fame 🙂
Thanks to Dorit Kowitz for the wonderful article and to Christine Skowski for the amazing pictures!