Date: 1 July 2019 at 7:40pm
Location: Busoga Region
Oh how the time flies by.
I’m feeling it.
I’m feeling a bit of everything. The level of difficulty in adjusting, learning, and living in a new environment, missing all of my friends and family back in the USA, and of course indoor plumbing.
The entire feeling of being away from home is a story I am trying to understand; the story of immigration. How much did my parents go through to bring us and give us a life outside of their home country? How much do people give up in order to make a new life that is far, far away from their roots? How do the people feel when they are displaced from their place of origin and how are they treated?
For many of us, in this cohort, a lot of us were trying to simply fill the gap. We all had the time to do Peace Corps and for the most of us we have just finished college and gotten tired of our way of living. We wanted to make a difference, but at the same time, we didn’t want to simply make a short call to do a quick mission and return back to our original, comfy, American lifestyle.
At the same time, it’s hard to foresee how much of a toll this can all take on somebody. There is no denying that all of us have been completely overwhelmed with what is going on here in Africa and the sort of treatment that we get is mixed. On the one hand, Peace Corps has done a great job in accommodating our needs and giving us the tools we need to get used to our service. On the other hand, there is nothing that can prepare you for the bombardment of information and sensory overload.
The muddy walks.
The constant harassment.
The Reward: My Community
It was past 3PM and we were making our way back to the language training site. Sun bearing down with clouds every now and then to give us a little bit of shade. A bit delirious from being in the sun all day, walking around the market and walking off our meal, we wanted to just get back to our site.
As we’d approached the front gate to our training site, we greeted the front guard as always, but this time he had stopped us. A little unusual. The guard spoke and greeted us with warm regards, but also posed another question:
Why are you really here? Why are you learning Lusoga?
It took a bit of time understanding what he was saying because of his limited English. He went on a small banter, to say that previous workers that looked just like us, foreigners, of which have only worked for the purpose of “money.” There was no heart or no other reason than for their own personal gain.
I took slight offense in thinking that he might have thought we were here for the money. But I had to process what he was saying and instead came to think, maybe he’s not accusing us of our purpose, but is unsure of what we really do.
Having pondered on the idea of why I am really here:
I wanted to understand the people of where I had come to serve. I am learning Lusoga, the language of this community, in order to listen to the words of the Ugandans. It is not to superimpose any American ideals that I have in my mind to try and fix the “problems” that I may see. The problems I see may not align with what my counterparts may see. I seek only to gain the understanding of how the people here live and think, so that I may communicate these ideas and highlight the importance of who these people are.
Communicating my ideas about this importance to the guard, with the look of understanding and reverenced he welcomed us back in.
My hosting family
They are amazing.
The citizens of Uganda have shown me compassion and understanding for us as Americans coming in to learn about their society. Moving in to my new homestay family, Kalange, Bushra, Sabra, Sarama, and my host mother and father, they have welcomed me in and have been enjoying my time with them.
It can be a bit much having younger brothers and sisters for the first time, so now I can empathize with my sisters who had to deal with me lol. But, they have been great.
I’ve been working with them to teach them how to type on a computer and juggle while they taught me how to cook with the charcoal stove, washing clothes and the average lifestyle of a Ugandan family.
Sanity, Thoughts, and Mentality
Intact. Erratic. Confident.
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This first month was tough. Adjusting to new cultural norms and trying to find a place to fit in is not exactly the easiest thing when you are going over policy after policy, managing your personal space, adopting a new diet and trying to make new friends while communicating with your friends back home.
For many of us, we have been pushed closer and closer to a breaking point. The feeling of breaking down and having our thoughts revel in the negativity that rolls through our minds. The thought that we aren’t good enough to be here and the inability to adjust to our new lifestyle, let alone for the next two years continually runs through the mind, day in and day out.
But, presumably, we were invited for a reason. Someone saw potential in our ability. Someone believes that we can do this. From application until now, our friends and family knows that we are capable of pulling through all of this, so it is only right to complete our challenge and make our loved ones proud.