To never have to start a sentence with "I wish I would have..."


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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Airtime, Potluck, and Bacterial Dysentary

First I want to give you a little more information about the bombings you may have heard of. A few days ago, after the final World Cup match, a terrorist group set of bombs in Kampala, targeting mainly areas where white people tend to frequent. More than 70 people were killed in the bombings, including 7 Americans. No Peace Corps volunteers were hurt during the bombings and Peace Corps staff immediately took control of the situation and restricted travel to and from Kampala until further notice.

The power has been going out a lot lately and I have been spending many evenings cooking by candlelight. The other night after I finished making dinner, I sat down to eat at my table. Buzi started barking outside, but I didn’t really think anything of it because he barks at pretty much anything that moves. He kept barking and I started to hear footsteps on my lawn. I don’t usually get visitors after dark and I of course started to freak myself out. I heard a scratching noise on my screen then someone whispered my name. I opened my door and looked out the screen door to see 3 pairs of eyes staring back at me. They were children and after greeting me in Luganda they just stood on my porch. My immediate thought was that they were going to ask me for money, but they didn’t. One of the little boys said he had airtime for me (there’s no such thing as a monthly cell phone bill here, you purchase airtime in various amounts and it’s kind of a pay as you go thing). Earlier that night I walked into town and went to my favorite dukka where Joseph, one of the nicest Ugandans I’ve met, works. Surprisingly, his dukka was closed and he was nowhere to be seen. I always purchase my airtime from him because he’s started carrying large quantities of it for me to buy. I guess someone in town must have told him that I stopped by and he sent a group of kids to deliver me my airtime. It continues to surprise me when people go out of their way like that to do something for me, but it’s definitely making me feel more and more a part of my community.

I’ve introduced the concept of a “potluck” to the tutors at my college. They were so intrigued by the idea they insisted we have one, so next Thursday Rakai PTC will have its first (of many, hopefully) official American/Ugandan cultural food exchange potluck (the tutors insisted it have a title, hence the food exchange part). The tutors were so excited when I made a flyer advertising the potluck and they all signed up and chose a dish to bring. I made the flyer more than two weeks ago…it’s all they can talk about…EVERY DAY. When visitors come to the school, my principal brags about this big cultural food exchange that I’ve organized. People have no clue what he’s talking about! I almost can’t wait for our potluck day to come and pass just so people will stop talking about it. I’m sure the actual event will have a story of its own. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes…

As our term is coming to an end I have been assessing my students. Nothing major, just an in class exercise to be able to get a grade for them. I thought an 8-10 question mini exam would be no problem. Boy was I wrong! I have been spending the majority of this past week grading 300+ short answer papers. It’s taken me forever and I’m not even done yet! I still have about 100 to go. What makes the work even more tedious is that my students have a hard time following directions. When I ask them to give me 3 examples of a specific term, they’ll list 7. When I ask for them to list 2 different ways of being a good guidance counselor, they’ll give me 12! I think I’m going to have to reiterate the importance of following directions next time, or maybe I’ll just try true/false.

You’ll be glad to know I survived my first major sickness in Africa! Last Thursday night I woke up in the middle of the night terribly sick. I mean running to the pit latrine every hour with simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea (sorry to be graphic). It turns out I had a bad case of bacterial dysentery, which basically means I had amoebas in my intestines. I most likely got it from using unclean or contaminated water to wash my vegetables. I can honestly say I have never been so sick in my life. It was the worst pain I’d been in, I couldn’t eat, and I could barely drink anything. I spent most of the 3 days I was sick in and out of sleep. I’m 100% better now and am super cautious of any water I use for cooking.

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July. While you were probably eating hot dogs and setting off fireworks, a group of us PCVs were spending the weekend on a remote island in a hostel on Lake Victoria. It was absolutely gorgeous. We had the place to ourselves and even had all of our meals prepared for us by the wonderful staff. On the actual 4th of July while we were all hanging out on the beach, we saw a bald eagle in one of the trees. It was a surreal feeling to be celebrating our independence in a different county, but seeing our national bird definitely made the experience real.

I think I mentioned that I started working at a primary school in Kyotera, my nearest town. I’ve decided to be their new PE teacher. I’m 22 years old and yesterday I spent more than an hour playing duck duck goose. It was the best day ever. The kids loved it! The best part is that I gave the directions entirely in Luganda. I tried teaching them Simon says, but they had a hard part understanding why they weren’t supposed to follow directions if I didn’t say “Simon says.” They taught me a Ugandan game, I think it’s called cat and rat or something similar. Basically, one person is a cat and one person is a rat. The cat is trying to catch the rat but everyone else forms a circle and holds hands. They lift arms to allow the rat in and out of the circle, but do everything they can to keep the cat from passing. It was actually a lot of fun and something I want to teach my students when I come back to the states. If anyone has any game EASY game ideas for little kids, please let me know!

As I’m going on being in country for 6 months, I am definitely missing you guys. Some days are harder than others but all of your letters and emails definitely help. I’m doing ok over here and I absolutely love my village. I hope everyone is happy and well there. Thanks for all the updates; I always look forward to reading them. Barbara, thank you so much for the MAD book, it will come in handy when I’m teaching. Mrs. Supik, thank you for the care package…I FINALLY got it and the granola bars were awesome!

Love and miss you guys like crazy!



  1. Skype was a great success. I don't know why we didn't use it sooner. I loved seeing u and felt u were right here in the kitchen. Also, sharing u with Uncle Rich. The both of u crying was priceless. I loved hearing you laugh most of all. I will continue to follow your blog.....Love, Mom-hugs and kisses

  2. Kids game called "7 up" you or someone chooses 7 children who come up front. All the rest put their heads down, eyes closed, no peaking. The seven chosen children walk amongst the rest and quietly tap someone, who must immediately raise an arm(to show they know they were picked. The seven, after tapping someone, come back to the front. When they have all returned, the other children lift their heads to see who had been tapped. The tapped ones stand and one at a time, with only one guess, try to guess who tapped them. If they are correct they change places. If not correct they just sit back down. If the one who tapped someone was not guess they stay to tap again. This can be exciting and the ones who move about quietly are rewarded. Trust your tappers if they think someone they tapped peaked and let them choose someone else. You might want to demonstrate with all eyes open first. Sounds like a lot here but 2nd graders taught it to me. love Cindy

  3. Sorry about the few errors, I was previewing and hit post instead of edit. Have fun

  4. What a great post! I loved the July 4th pictures on facebook, especially the bald eagle. I'm not at all surprised by the excitement over the pot luck -- your flyers are very inspirational!! Can't wait to hear how it turns out. :) Stay well.

  5. ashley! its been over a month... we need an update!