Monthly Archives: December 2013

Adventures in Uganda

Because I hadn’t gotten my work permit here yet (through no fault of my own), I had to leave Rwanda for a few days and re-enter. Hence, I ventured to Uganda.  Travel alone to another country to stay with a friend of a friend but a stranger to me? Sure! These days I feel I can handle most knew things. So off I went on the 10 hour bus ride, which really wasn’t bad. Stopping at the border proved to have no hiccups, and I got through just fine into Uganda after paying a fee of course. I arrived at 4 in the morning, picked up by Yusuf, the brother of one of the directors of the school. We took a moto down to the village outside of the capital of Kampala where his family owns a lot of rooms for rent.

Day 1: The renters there in the village eye me carefully, but are kind enough not to shout “muzungu!” In fact, it is Ugandan culture for women and girls to have to kneel on the ground to greet their elders. Thus, about 4 different little girls come and kneel before me in the dirty mud. Though I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have the opposite effect, this humbles me.  Who am I that you should be dirtening yourself for my sake?! The little feminist in me is upset that this cultural norm is only for females, but that’s not my battle I suppose. As a foreigner, I was not expected to participate in this norm. We walked around the village area, which is huge compared to mine, but also much dirtier. Rwanda is so clean compared to most countries in Africa.

Day 2: Went into Kampala, the capital city. It’s very developed. Half the time I felt like I was in Rwanda, and half the time I felt like I was in the US, though neither of them feeling just the same. I even saw a very short overpass! I ate some American food, but to be honest all but the ice cream was pretty disappointing. No one seems to know how to cook it right. I asked for extra sauce on my pizza, and the waiter was very confused. After explaining that no, I was not talking about having ketchup on the side, I was talking about adding more of the tomato sauce when they made the pizza. Yeah, I ended up with a nearly no sauce pizza and two cups of ketchup on the side. *Sigh* But I did try a new food called jackfruit which was yummy!  I also got to visit Amy, another CTEN missionary who is working in Kampala. She showed me around the slum she works and we got to catch up a bit and that was really nice.

Day 3: Went into the city once more, got excited to see a few Christmas trees. Traveled by moto but there they put like 3-4 people on a moto (motorcycle taxi) at one time, all with no helmet, which seems like a bad idea…haha. Then went to the downtown market, and struggled to make it out alive. Ok, not really, but those people are shameless venders. They’ll scream at you, and physically force you into their store. I think they need a lesson in customer service. Yusuf and I left there exhausted.

Didn’t do anything too touristy, for lack of time and money and transport. But I met some nice people, got to see Amy, and bought a sweater. However, the most important part of the trip for me was the unexpected feeling I got when I entered back into Rwanda. I just got so excited to be home. I jumped giddily over the border and smiled all through customs. Whizzing by signs in kinyarwanda, the beautiful clean and quiet hills that are my country, I just felt in my heart a renewed sense of my call. Yes, I heard God remind me, these are the people I need you serving still. 


77 High Fives

I give/receive about 77 high fives a day in the 4 hours I teach in the holiday tutoring we’ve been doing every morning.  The high five has become a sacred ritual in my classrooms, given for correct answers, at the end of each class period as a goodbye, and at the end of the school day as another goodbye. Other rituals have developed as well (the 2nd graders always hide before I enter the classroom. I then proceed to act really baffled as to where they have all gone, before they pop out from behind  their desks to surprise me. I have to say, this is adorable. But I think the 1st graders win on adorable rituals. When they see I’m coming, they all put their heads down on their desks and pretend to be sleeping. It’s adorable, and it’s the quietest they’ll be all day. I then proceed to declare I simply MUST wake them up for class, through a means of tickling them and shouting, WAKE UP WAKE UP! These take about 3 minutes of class time, but put the students in a happy mood so it’s worth it). But the most used and cherished rituals is of course, the high five.

Yesterday I finally counted because I was curious just how many times I engage in what to me is a really amazing gesture for the following reasons.

High fives are fun. This makes them an ideal positive reinforcement tool for young children, and great way to motivate them for a lesson. Can you add and write the answer? Boring. Can you add and write the answer to receive a high five? WHY, YES I CAN TEACHER!

High fives are friendly. They allow someone to come into your personal space for a brief moment of intimacy that says, “yes, let’s be friends.”

High fives are appropriate. Boy? Girl? Old? Young? No problem. Everyone can get a high five without feeling uncomfortable.

High fives are versatile. The 1st grade students have now become fans of the psych out first high five, in which they purposefully miss the first time because it makes everyone laugh, and then they come back for another. After this became old, one little boy named Akim snuck over to an empty seat on the other side of the room which I hadn’t reached yet in my high five tour so that he could get a second one, much like the never ending line of goodbye kisses Snow White gives the seven dwarves. I giggled endlessly. The 2nd graders have become a fan of the high five while jumping, which requires both parties to jump, and I don’t mind this at all. The 3rd graders have introduced the double high five, using both hands. And the 5th graders have introduced the “pound it” knuckle punch after the high five. This is a sacred ritual, I’m telling you guys!

There are two downsides. 1) My hand is the color of a tomato at the end of the day (but it’s well worth it) and 2) it’s amazing how many germs must be spreading. But I think we’re spreading even more love.