21 August 2007

Running Around

First a quick shot out to Michelle and Brandi (letters will be forthcoming) and Aunt Tracy (letter has been sent) for the excellent reading materials and Biff-Dad for many comfort / happiness essentials.

So, there’s been both a lot, and not much going on lately. I’m just on my way back from four days of language training in Mukono, which was nice. I really enjoy Luganda, and I’m starting to get into a little bit more of the meat with more complex conjugations (never and still and things), and the vocab is growing steadily (I have a little floss-box-turned flashcard holder that I carry around and try to go through about every other day). Actually, I may have been nearly the only one really looking forward to the language component of language training – it’s a little isolating to like learning the language so much when it seems most other volunteers aren’t really that interested. Beyond that, it was really nice to have a change of pace and some more American influence (and partying ; ).

Actually, it was my second “change of pace” in the last two weeks because I just went up to Mbale to help train some of the CCT’s (Coordinating Center Tutors, who are the teacher trainers and our counterparts / colleagues) in using computers. For one, Mbale is really beautiful (see picture below), and it has something to look at on the horizon – it’s amazing how much I really miss having mountains / hills around*. For two, it was a bit silly how unprepared they were to receive us – they didn’t have any place for us to stay the first night and the lack of electricity made it harder to find some makeshift accommodations. For three, they really weren’t prepared to use what they had, which was four (Me, Amy, Allie, and Fred – who lives near the college there) computer literate and willing teachers. Much of the time we just sat around playing on the computers (I discovered Spider Solitaire, which I’ll probably have to remove from my laptop when it comes with Dad & Jason in December), and when some of the tutors did come we mostly just introduced them to a program that helps them learn how to touch type. That actually seems to be a big theme here, when there are a lot of really good resources (whether that be money, or books, or trained people), the resources are either plundered (there’s quite a bit of theft here), squandered, or ignored. This is probably a big over-generalization, but it seems to happen WAY too much (and quite especially with USAID money too). It’s hard to tell why exactly it happens though – what do Ugandans want? Where do they want to go? Tiradein the CC aside, it was a good trip and had some nice time with computers and visiting people and cooking and things too.

Right before I left for Mbale, I had a couple days with not much to do, so I decided to look through a lot of the files (Coordinating Center) office at the school I’m posted at. I’d been feeling like I really wasn’t up to speed on a lot of the details of what was going on and it was nice to just sit and do office work for a while and start thinking about things I’d like to accomplish next term. I’d like to stick a little bit closer to the Primary Schools and the student teachers, which is really what I should be doing, over tutoring at the secondary schools. I’m making a map of all the schools in my cachement area (I think there’s 65), and I’d like to try to visit them all at least once this next term. There’s also a lot of materials in the storage of my Resource Center that are just sitting and gathering dust, but that’s mainly because the classroom where they’re supposed to be displayed isn’t secure enough and villagers and children often come into open classrooms and wreck things if they’re not well locked up (I don’t understand why).

Also, here’s a picture from a cool Japanese – Ugandan Culture day I got to attend. It was a lot of fun and enlightening for me to see the things that were similar between the US and Japan (like good time management, and not needing to look “smart” all the time), didn’t seem like there were many differences.

Well, that’s about it. Bit confused at times, but surviving thanks to good books, letters / emails from home, and Ugandan friends here.

Loves you all

* On a side note, one day when I was in Mukono I decided to walk up to the top of one of the hills nearby. I ended up meeting a nice Burundese (spelling?) man, many other nice people / children, and seeing a lot of the countryside after walking down and then around the hill. And I was thinking during the walk that mountains seem like a philosophical necessity for me (people in general?). There’re something there, something new, something big, an entity to be explored, and even more than that it seems like they just draw you to explore. At my site everything is flat and I haven’t really gone out exploring around much besides finding my way to schools I’ve never been to before. On the “horizon” there’s just not anything to look at besides sky, over there just seems to be the same as right here. But, if there’s a mountain, it seems to beckon. To draw one towards it, if for nothing else than an excellent view of what could be beyond. It’s a big dangling question mark, a challenge with the promise of novelty. Anyway, I miss ‘em, maybe I should head over sometime I’m free and walk up Elgon or something – you down Bro?

08 August 2007


Sorry this note will be pretty short - I'm actually using most of this internet time to catch up on my guilty-pleasure reading of the infinitely nerdy, but also deep web-comic xkcd.

Things have quieted down over here as the term is nearing it's end. I'm getting ready to head to a town called "Nyondo" near Mbale to help with a computer training. It should be fun.

The week after that is language training in Mukono (which it seems I alone of my entire training group am looking forward too - yeah, I know I's a nerd).

And then there is a training from the Ministry for the next week.

And then there's In-Service-Training.

So, I'll be all over the place I guess.

Take Care all.

P.S. Biff-Dad - Where are you? I've sent you a few emails and text messages - are you okay?