I’m finally an official volunteer! Our group is the first in Uganda Peace Corps history to have all trainees swear in…all 29 of us made it! Last week we left Wakiso and had a huge celebration to thank our homestay families. Most of you know I didn’t have the best experience with my homestay family, to put it nicely. Despite that, the party was awesome. Another volunteer and I were in charge of the menu and we were able to have American food…macaroni and cheese! I gave a thank you speech (entirely in Luganda!) with a girl from my language class, which was pretty awesome. After the celebration we FINALLY moved out of our homestay houses and went to Kampala for swearing in. We got to go to the U.S Embassy here and met the ambassador. The actual swearing in ceremony was at his house.
I’ll be living in Bikiira Parish in Rakai District for the next two years. Rakai is about 30 kilometers north of Tanzania, so I’m pretty far south in Uganda. I’ll be working at Rakai Primary Teachers’ College (PTC) teaching PES (teaching methodology), early childhood education, and computers. I also think I might be the girls’ counselor, which I’m pretty excited about. The college has over 300 students, about 230 second years and 140 or so first years. The second years are broken into 2 streams and the first years are all together…which means I teach all 140 of them at one time! It’s kind of intimidating, but I’m hoping to be able to break the students into smaller streams at some point…we’ll see how that goes!
All of my students leave for holiday starting today and they’ll be gone until the end of May. That gives me plenty of time to settle into my house and start integrating into the community. My house is amazing! I’m so fortunate to have electricity! I also have a guest bedroom, perfect for hosting visitors! I live across the road from the health center—I really want to start working with the children’s ward there—and I’m about a 5 minute walk from the PTC. Bikiira Parish itself is actually pretty small, with just a trading center and a few dukkas. Kyotera town is about a half hour walk and I can get most of my groceries there. For more specific things, like oatmeal and peanut butter, I can take a taxi into Masaka town, which is about an hour/hour and a half away, and also use wireless internet there.
I’m going to start a garden so if you have tips on that please email me...or better yet send me seeds! I’ve never gardened before but apparently most everything grows fairly easily here so I figured I’d try it out. I also want to start a girls’ empowerment club at the college. I’m hoping to make it sustainable by teaching the students how to implement similar clubs at the primary schools they’ll be teaching at. I’d love to hear any ideas you guys may have for that. I’m thinking something along the lines of self esteem building, life skills, HIV/AIDS awareness, sex education, etc.
Thanks for the packages Celia, McKenzie, and Aunt Jody! And thanks for the letter, Jill! I still haven’t received all my mail so for those of you whose letters/packages I haven’t received yet…don’t worry, they’re still coming. I have established a new address in my community and now that I’m able to check it whenever I want I will hopefully get mail quicker. Feel free to start sending stuff! I’d love to get some pictures to put on my walls.
My new address is:
c/o Rakai Primary Teachers’ College
P.O. Box 29
Happy belated birthday, Dad!
Love and miss you all so much!