Meet Joel Wood who is originally from Sudbury, Ontario, where he lived with his parents and two brothers until he was three years old. His father’s career in mining took his family to Kleinzee, South Africa, where they lived for two and a half years. One trip that Joel recalls is a trip to Okavango Delta, a large, marshy area in Botswana where they explored in a hand-crafted makoro. After their time in South Africa, Joel and his family returned to Canada to live in Timmins, Ontario. As Joel says, “It was really amazing to be back in Canada, especially with all of the fall colours.”

A Makoro

Joel excelled in computer studies in school where he achieved the highest level in grade 7. During seventh grade, his father accepted a job in Namibia, a country in southwest Africa. In September of 2014 – which should have marked the beginning of grade 8 for Joel – he and his family arrived in Lüderitz, Namibia. The school year in Namibia begins in January and continues year-round running for three trimesters, with a lengthy break between each. Joel was required to repeat a large portion of grade 7, this time in a Montessori school. After completing grade 8 and one trimester of grade 9, Joel’s high school closed:

timmins-ludertiz“When my high school closed, it was very sudden and scary. Nearly all of my friends from the two years I had been in Lüderitz were moved to boarding schools in other cities. I had very few options; I could either go to a boarding school in Windhoek (690 km away) or go back to Canada to live with my grandparents or brothers. VHS was my saving grace as it allowed me to stay with my mom and dad in Lüderitz, while still earning full Canadian credits that will allow me to eventually move back to Canada with my education intact. I have currently completed CGC1D and MPM1D, and look forward to ENG1D which I am starting now. I am happy to be able to work on my computer skills by doing my entire school experience online.”

In his free time, Joel enjoys participating in an archery program, piano lessons, and an art class in a nearby school. Joel says,

“My mother teaches the art classes on Friday to provide the kids with some much needed extra-curricular activities; I even help to teach some lessons. I am also a leading member of the Early-Act Rotary Club. It is a program that allows kids from ages 5 to 13 to volunteer and help out in our community with funds raised from other rotary groups across the world.”

Some of the most notable and enjoyable places that Joel has visited during his return to Africa include:

  • the Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa
  • the Sossusvlei dunes, some of the highest and oldest dunes in the world
  • the Caprivi Strip, a lush land with unique, traditional cultures

Joel’s story is incredible, and we are happy that the self-paced nature of Virtual High School has allowed Joel to continue his education while remaining in Namibia. In closing, Joel says, “I am so grateful that VHS offers this amazing service worldwide. VHS also gives me the opportunity to explore and experience Africa while I have the chance. Thank you VHS!”