Tuesday, April 10, 2012

422 Days = Cautiously Optimistic

As I write this we have been in Uganda for 422 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes. The past year or so has been many things and until recently none of those things were busy. But as I speak I am sitting typing this blog during my third week of evening lab times, piloting a lab assistants program. Emily and I have been overwhelmed by all the initiatives and clubs we are trying to start that are actually working. We knew that if we were going to get clubs, and study session times off the ground we would have to do it this term. So, going into the latter half of Term 1 this year we find ourselves cautiously optimistic about the next year!

The Primary Teachers’ College schedule is hard to navigate for anyone; much less overly excited Peace Corps Volunteers. Therefore, we kept asking if we should start clubs now or wait, and the answer was always to “Start Now.” So we would try to start and fail because of any number of things, including slashing, games/sports, worship, school practice, impromptu school breaks, and many other things. So we thought that with a new school year and new students we would try out our ideas. So, during the orientation week with 1st years we plugged so many things it sort of felt like we were introducing a new club everyday.

We have started about 5 book clubs, 3 of which have been successful. Emily has started a Girl’s Life Skills group, where she has so far covered HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, and other important life skills. She has also started back up her math help time in the evenings. And I have started a Computer club made up of about 16 students who will be helping in the computer lab during class time and evening sessions. In addition I have been co-teaching this term and it has been really rewarding. The coming year will definitely be busy if these things continue and grow when the second years come back.

As we look ahead to the coming year we are cautiously optimistic about more than just our work at the PTC. We are optimistic that our original VSLA and second one started recently with staff at the PTC will be successful and no problems will arise. We are optimistic that relationships that we have built in our first year at site will continue to flourish and open new doors in discussing culture with our Ugandan neighbors. We are optimistic that our garden will continue to thrive as we transition back into a dry season in about a month. We are optimistic that our bikes will be able to be ridden multiple times. Our time in Uganda is going great but as with most peoples Peace Corps experience we are optimistic that the next year will fly by and we will be returning to 819 Edmund before we know it.

We are so excited to have so many extra things this coming year too. In May my parents will be here for a couple of weeks to get the full Uganda Peace Corps experience (well maybe not the full one). Then in June Emily’s mom is going to be visiting us again as she travels to Kenya to teach at the theological seminary there. Then we are super excited about a trip we just planned to Italy, France, and Spain in August. It will be our first time out of Africa since we arrived, our first time in that part of Europe, and my first time in Europe at all. It is a once in a lifetime trip, and it will feel exponentially (Can you tell I was just doing my college algebra homework online?) more rewarding and lavish coming from Uganda. Then finally in December/January we will get to visit America, and see what has changed before we come back for good. Those are all the things that are happening for sure, in addition to a few more possibilities in the works. So far it seems that our school time will be busy, and our breaks will be just as busy. We hope those things combined will make my cautious optimism about the next year flying by a reality.

Our first year at site has been so rewarding in so many ways, and makes me excited for what year two will offer. In the next couple of weeks we have to say good-bye to some of our better Peace Corps friends from the area, Jean and Hayley. Jean has been practically our next-door neighbor for the last year, and we can’t believe that our year with her is over. We have shared so many experiences with one another, and we will miss seeing her multiple times a week. Our Peace Corps friends are such a valuable support to us, and we will miss those who are leaving. The first year at site would also not have been possible without the support of our family and friends at home. I say this while eating Starburst Jelly Beans sent in one of many care packages that our family at home has sent us. We can not describe all the ways that the support of family and friends at home has helped us get through hard times and also allowed us to share victories.

Well with that all said we cannot wait to continue to share the next 365 or so days with ya! We will try to make sure that we keep you updated on our blog/vlogs, and by talking to you all. We hope that everyone had a great Easter weekend!

We love and miss ya,

Ryan KJ

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