Friday, July 8, 2011


After short visits with friends in Lebanon and the UK, I am back on US soil. It's really good to be home, and I'm looking forward to grad school in the fall. But it was also really hard to leave Kisiki. I know I can stay in touch, but it's not the same. There's so much I'm missing out on now. District athletics and music competitions. The start of a school weather station. The reading room really getting under way. Students preparing for their national exams. Daily life moving forward bit by bit.

But, I life moves on, and so I'm back home. I'll be relaxing into US living for 3 weeks in DC. My brother's home, and so we'll actually have some quality family time. A few good books, a city full of museums, and a lot of emails to catch up on will keep me just busy enough until I move to Boulder and start the next adventure.

I won't be posting here anymore, but (hopefully) you all have my email and can drop my a line whenever. Thank you to everyone who's supported me through all of this. I know some of my fellow PCVs who've had to struggle with family and friends who did not understand why one would ever leave the luxurious developed world to spend two years so far from home. I've been so lucky to have friends and family who see value in Peace Corps and have encouraged me to pursue my dreams, whatever they are. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PS 2 and a year's catching up

After almost a year of not posting, what gets me back here? I couldn't resist sharing that I spent the evening playing PS 2 with my neighbors. For the first time in my life I was the 'expert' at a video game!

It's been a while, to say the least. I certainly can't make up for all nonexistent posts, but here's a synopsis:

August - my holiday plans were turned upside down when the ministry moved our holiday up a week and shortened it from 4 weeks to only 2 weeks. Thankfully, I was still able to climb Mt Elgon, shiver for the first time in Uganda and see some strange but awesome plants. Even though it was short, just being back above tree line was such a release of stress and worries, it was a good break from the norm.

September - back to the grindstone. By now I was really regretting my decision to take on so many lessons. Enough so that I admitted defeat and traded a class. Not that it decreased my class time, but at least it decreased the number of lesson plans I had to come up with each week.

Despite all the teaching, I figured it was smart to pile on more work. I filled any free time with field trips (mathematics seminar and Entebbe Zoo/Airport) and a new reading room where students could come to read (they came in such numbers that I wrote a grant and we're now finishing up a beautiful new library extension - thank you US government and Kisiki College!).

My senior 6 (grade 12) students were starting to get frantic about their upcoming exam in November and I tried to give them the extra attention they wanted and needed but ended up too busy to help enough.

By sheer determination, many sleepless nights, a few terrible classes, and a lot of missed communications with family and friends (both Ugandan and American), I made it to December, marked my last exam and headed off for the long holiday (2 months!).

The first week was spent in a surreal Uganda/not Uganda camp playing games, talking about serious issues (HIV/AIDS, sex, friendship, self-esteem) with a group of 150 Ugandan girls in the first ever Camp GLOW - Uganda. GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) was put together by a group of amazing ladies (also PCVs) modeled on the other Camp GLOWs around the world. It was an incredible week, and I was awed by what a small group of people could accomplish.

Camp GLOW had barely ended when I was on a plane back to the states for Christmas (yay! home!). It was oddly not odd to come back and my biggest shocks were seeing people get into the wrong sides of cars and walk on the wrong side of streets. A week in CO with friends, a week in CA with family and at week in DC at home was hectic, busy and wonderful.

Coming back to Uganda in January I arrived just in time for our Close of Service (COS) conference, a bitter-sweet reunion of our group which had arrived 32 strong on 14th February, 2009. With only 20 members still in-country the conference felt empty.

If you're wondering about the 12; 2 left our first day in country (it just wasn't right), 3 left for medical reasons , 2 for family emergencies (very sick parents), 1 for economic reasons (we did leave at the beginning of the recession) with his wife following 8 months later, and 3 for personal reasons.

During first term I was in and out of school as I helped with the training of the newest group of PCVs. It was a great experience; training others to teach, talking about Uganda, remembering American culture. I am glad I did it, but was really challenged to work closely with good friends often frustrating situations.

All the traveling kept me away from school much more than I would've liked. I missed 4+ weeks of the first term, which only has 12 weeks to begin with. After the stressful 3rd term last year where I was not at all social, followed by a long holiday, I had a lot of friendships that had been badly neglected. So, these last few months I have not been teaching, but focusing on re-entering my school community and regaining some of my own mental sanity. On some level it's been successful, but it'd be hard to argue for my ever truly being sane.

Even with the travelling, I was able to be around for some fun activities during first term:
- Emma's introduction (kinda like a wedding)

Over the holiday I took a short vacation with the other teachers to Mombasa and Nairobi. It was a whirlwind tour, but a nice bonding experience.

Now 2nd term has started up and we're all back to work. Except for me, who's not teaching. Except, I'm pretty incapable of not doing any work, so I've been working on things here and there as they come up:
- Girls' football! We went to nationals in Mbale in May and got 14th out of 46 teams! The coach is now trying to set up a girls' football academy in our district and I'm excited to hear how it goes.
- Computer lessons with teachers - these have been on and off, but are going well. Mostly.
- The new reading room. We've finally gotten all the books organized and on shelves. The walls are starting to look bright with all the notices students and I have put up. One student has already finished a book and written a book report, and I'm only hoping as hard as I can that others will follow.

With only 3 weeks left in Uganda, it's finally starting to hit me that I'm leaving soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is turning into a photoblog. I promise some substance once the term is over and things calm down.

Scouting trip:

Biology Tour of Entebbe:

We had visitors from the UK and some of the hostel girls came over to help us make the house look nice: