Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 10:15 AM

I just got back from spending the weekend in Kampala.  It was my first real time to spend a lot of time in Kampala.  We stayed with a guy who works for the US Embassy here in Uganda.  It was like a vacation.  He had an awesome house, even by American standards.  We had comfortable beds, hot showers and we even got to do our laundry in a washer and dryer.  While in Kampala I did a little shopping, ate a lot of good food and I got a haircut.  Overall, it was a great weekend.

Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to Rwanda for Christmas.  From what I’m told it is our friendlier cleaner neighbor to the South.  We are going to go to Kigali, Lake Kivu and to track the mountain gorillas.  It should be an interesting way to spend Christmas.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11, 2011 8:15 PM--Missing My Baby

Sometimes I think your pets are the hardest thing to leave behind at home.  Harder than any person and any convenience you have in America.  There are a couple reasons for this:

  1.)       You can’t talk to them on the phone
I guess maybe you can talk to them, but they don’t really understand and they can’t talk back.  It’s not like it is with people where you can have a conversation with them whenever you want.

  2.)       They can’t come and visit you
Any person you may miss at home has the ability to come and visit if they want to.  But your pets can’t come and visit.  They don’t have money for a plane ticket and they don’t know how to use the internet in order to book one.

So for these reasons sometimes I find the thing I miss the most is my baby, Olivia.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 4, 2011 6:45 AM

It’s funny how the infrastructure here (or lack thereof) is just accepted by the people here.  Power and water go out all the time and the people here just adjust their lives to deal with it.  Luckily for me my water comes from a rain tank, so I always have water unless the entire tank runs dry, which hasn’t happened yet.  But in Mbarara water has been going out all the time.  I know this seems strange because it doesn’t really happen in the U.S., but this means the water company shuts off the water.  It just seems ridiculous that Mbarara doesn’t have water half the time and we’re in the rainy season.  Things like this shouldn’t happen. For me power is the real problem.  First of all, I don’t pay my own power bill.  My school pays it (well…most of the time).  Every so often they don’t pay the bill.  I don’t exactly know why, but this causes the power company to disconnect the power.  This happened right before I left for Thanksgiving.  So my power went off Monday November 24th and it didn’t actually come back until yesterday December 3rd.  Luckily I was gone for a large portion of the time it was out, but after I came back I was told that they had paid the bill and we just needed the electrician to come out and reconnect it and that took about 4 days itself.  Power was not just out for me, but also all the other teachers that live on my row of houses.  This even includes the Headmaster and the Deputy Headmistress.  The fact that power was out for 12 days didn’t seem to bother anyone else in the slightest.  I think I was the only one really put out by this.  On top of problems like this, Uganda has been having problems with what they call “load shedding”.  I’m not exactly sure what this means, but to me it is an excuse for the power company to shut off power for an entire town or region for no real good reason.  I think it might be because the country as a whole is using too much power.  Either way it causes big problems for businesses and people have been demonstrating about it in Kampala.  And keep in mind as I’m writing this my power is currently out.

In other news, I’m leaving today to go to Camp Glow.  I’m taking 4 girls from my school.  This should be an interesting experience.  Most of the people here don’t move around their own country the way I do.  I don’t know that any of these girls have ever been to Kampala before.  Because my school is more urban, I know that they have at least been to Mbarara, which is the biggest town in the region.  But some volunteers are bringing girls that have never left their village.  So either way for most of these girls, this will be quite the experience. 

Camp Glow (Girls Leading Our World) and Camp Build (Boys of Uganda in Leadership Development), which are being held right next to each other, are the capstone events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps.  So at least for the last day of these camps there should be a lot of volunteers around.  It should be a good week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011 12:00 PM--Stars

I don't always like when the power goes out for obvious reasons.  At night it makes it quite dark, I can't use my computer for too long after it goes out, and I can't charge my phone.  Sometimes I can't even cook without power.  But there are moments when I really enjoy the power outages.  Last night power went out for about an hour.  During that time I finished watching a movie I had already started and I washed my dishes.  When I went outside to dump the dish water, I had a moment when I looked up and I could see every star in the sky.  It kind of makes you wish power doesn't come back right away because it is the one moment and place when you can see the stars better than anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011 7:30 AM--Sandwiches

Most restaurants here don’t make international/American food, but the ones that do don’t always put so much care into it.  Ugandans don’t understand the idea of having good food.  As long as it’s edible, they’re okay with it.  However, there is one guy in Mbarara who just opened a small cafĂ© and movie theater.  He is Ugandan but he has lived in America before, so he can kind of understands how Americans like there food.  He makes the best sandwiches!  And he actually cares how we like our food.  He always makes sure everything is fresh.  This weekend alone I had three sandwiches.  When we went in there on Saturday, it took a long time because he had to go out and buy all the ingredients to make our sandwiches, but they were so good that we didn’t mind.  This pace makes me want to buy a sandwich every week when I’m in town.  There are other places to get good food in town, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to go there every time I’m in town.  I kind of just want to support this guy because I love that he cares so much what we actually want. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011 11:30 AM

So I finished with my classes today.  This means that other than giving my exams, grading my exams and attending my end of term staff meeting, my second term is officially over.  My school year is also finished.  So after the term officially ends on November 30th, I’ll have off for almost 2 months.  I hope to take advantage of this time.  I want to get started on my computer lab project and I also want to do some travelling.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8, 2011 6:15 PM--Computer Practicals

Today I finally finished with the computer practicals.  To me it was very long and kind of boring, but I think overall it was worth it.  You could tell there were a few of the girls who had used a computer before, but for the most part I don’t think that most them had ever used one before.  This made it all the more interesting.  This must have been what it was like when the first personal computer was created and they gave it to the first test subjects.  Most of the girls were totally fascinated by things.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of people so computer illiterate.  It’s kind of nice because there is a lot to show them and there is a lot of gratification in it.  Some of the girls constantly wanted to stray away from my lesson, but others were so thrilled when they did something I told them to do correctly.  I had at least one group who was totally terrified.  At the beginning of one of my lessons, after I told the girls to click on something, they just continued to stare at me and the computer without touching it.  I had to explain to them that they didn’t have to be scared of the computers and that they were allowed to touch them. 

I also somehow managed to give all of my lessons at the time I originally allotted.  This may seem obvious, but almost every lesson, at one point or another, got rescheduled.  Sometimes there were other people using the lab.  Sometimes I couldn’t locate the keys to the lab.  And one time I even had power go out for a minute or two.  But despite all of these little blips, I managed to give all of my lessons as planned.

I really want to try to get more computers in there, now more than ever.  Most of the girls kept asking me why we don’t do this more often.  And when I explained to them that we don’t have enough computers and we have too many girls, they all agreed, but you could tell most of them are just dying to get into the lab.  The headteacher wants to work it out starting next term so I can give practical lessons to some of the students that don’t take computers, like some of the higher level classes.  So I would stop teaching Math and focus solely on computers, which is what I originally wanted anyway.  But this could be very difficult without getting more computers.  Hopefully over the holiday I can work on fixing up the lab.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5, 2011 5:00 PM

This week the senior 1s invited me to come to their party which was taking place today.  It was a party not only for the senior 1s but also a party for the members of Harvard House, which is one of the dormitories.  It was to initiate the Senior 1s and to congratulate the Harvard House for having the cleanest dorm.  I would say it was one of the easiest functions I’ve ever been to here.  It did however start about an hour late.  Although this didn’t bother me so much because I anticipated it starting late and I didn’t show up on time (but I was still there well before it started).  It was however only 2 hours long, including lunch, so I was pretty pleased with that. 

Sometimes, being here, I look at people or I look at my students and I can’t help but think how different they are from American students.  However, today I looked at them and I couldn’t help but think how similar they are.  There was supposed to be music at this party.  And for the beginning of the party there was, but about halfway through power went out.  But while power was on, all most of these girls were interested in was singing, dancing, and how “smart” everyone was dressed.  I can’t say that this is all that different from how American teenagers think.  I felt bad for them, because their little dance afterwards was postponed/cancelled because the power was out.  But overall, it was a good event.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011 12:30 PM--"But You Haven't Had Any Food"

Ugandans typically don’t think you have eaten unless you’ve had “food”.  This may sound like it makes sense, but you don’t know what Ugandans consider to be “food”.  “Food” to Ugandans is something like matooke, posho or rice.  They typically eat meals consisting of “food and sauce”.  “Sauce” can be something like beans, meat or peanut sauce.  But if you try to tell them that sauce is food, they will never agree with you.  So if I just eat meat, according to most Ugandans, I haven’t eaten.  You can even give them a dictionary definition of food and they still won't agree. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27, 2011 3:00 PM

I have finished my classroom lessons for computers with my girls for the term and also the year.  This means that starting next week I start what they call practicals.  This just means that I’m taking them to the computer lab for a practical lesson.  Up until this point, I’ve been teaching them computers in their classroom with the chalkboard.  I’m not really sure how effective this is.  So, I guess, I’m hoping that one 80 minute lesson will sum up and tie everything together.  I hope they get a lot out of it because it means that I have a lot more work to do for the next two weeks.  I broke each class into 5 groups.  So I have 10 groups in total.  So over the next two weeks I have to teach the same lesson 10 times.  Each group has 10 or 11 girls in it and I only have about 5 or 6 computers that we can use.  So the girls will still have to share computers.  They seem really excited about going to the lab.  I’m just hoping they behave once they get there.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011 7:00 PM

“The days go by so slowly, but the weeks and months fly by.”  This is something I hear volunteers here say all the time.  This may not make much sense, but when you are here experiencing it and someone says this, it totally makes sense.  There are many days that you don’t have anything to do, so your days can go by slowly.  On the other hand, there isn’t much change in seasons here.  It sometimes seems like an eternal summer.  Without any change of season, for someone who is used to having both summer and winter, it can seem like time isn’t moving, when, in fact, the months are going by before your eyes.  Sometimes it feels like I just got here yesterday and in fact I’ve been here for almost 9 months.  My dad mentioned this to me the other day and, at first, I didn’t see the significance of 9 months.  At 9 months, I’ll be a third of the way done.  That seems crazy because there is still so much to do here and so many places to go see.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 21, 2011 2:30 PM--Mom Visited

I know I haven’t written on my blog in over two weeks, but I’ve been too busy to write. Too busy having fun! My mom finally got to my house early in the morning on Saturday October 8 after having a lot of trouble with her connecting flights. It took her almost an additional day and an extra stop in Nairobi, but she eventually made it without any major disturbances.

So, on October 8, after she slept for a few hours, we left my house and went to Lake Mburo National Park. I thought it would take us about an hour and half to get there, but my calculations were a little off and it took us about three hours to get there, but it was worth it. Even though we were only there for one night, it was totally worth it! We stayed at the Mihingo Lodge, which is actually just outside the park (although you can’t get there without going through the park). It was nothing short of amazing. Up until that point I don’t think I’ve eaten so well in this country. I didn’t even know there was food available in this country that can be so good. Our room was huge. It was trying to portray a rustic feel in the lap of luxury. Many people have told me that Mihingo Lodge is debatably the nicest hotel in any Ugandan National Park and it might be. So, we spent Saturday hanging out and laying by the pool relaxing. Then Sunday morning we got up early and went on a horseback safari. We spent two hours on the safari and we saw many different kinds of animals. Most notably, we saw a lot of Zebras, but we also saw some waterbucks, eland, impala, monkeys, and warthogs. In the afternoon we took a boat ride on the lake and we saw some hippos and crocodiles as well. By Sunday late afternoon we were on our way back to my house in Kinoni, which is where we were going to spend most of the week.

The Mihingo Lodge Pool (it overlooks a watering hole)


Our Room (or tent as they called it)


Our Bathroom


The was our "Tent" (no, we were the only ones in this huge room)


Horseback Safari


There were lots of Zebra


The sunset from our room


Hippos


And more hippos


On Monday, we went into Mbarara for the afternoon. I gave my mom a nice little tour of the town and we saw many of my favorite places, including the Peace Corps resource room, City Restaurant (for Indian food), the market, the Orange store (for airtime for my phone), and a couple of my favorite supermarkets. Other than that there is not much to do in town because it wasn’t nice enough out to go to the pool.

On Tuesday, I took her to school for lunch and to meet some of my favorite people here. Unfortunately, even though I only gave the headmaster short notice of her visit that day, they still insisted on improving the lunch. Instead of Matooke, we had rice (which is somewhat of a luxury) and they also gave everyone bottled water. This never happens except on special occasions. While we were there the headmaster invited us to come back later that day to have evening tea with him and a few of the other teachers and to take a tour of the school. This ended up being a lot nicer than lunch. We had tea with the headmaster, the deputy headmistress, the director of studies, the head of the business department and the head of the student council. After tea we took a tour of the school. This was the first time even for me to see the inside of the dormitories. We also went down and saw the girls having their dinner. Not only did they love seeing another white person, but they also loved that she brought her camera. Most of them either really wanted their picture taken or some were very shy and didn’t want it at all. The tour ended up being very amusing.

One of the classroom blocks


Some of the dormatories







On Thursday morning, after I had finished my first two classes, we left for Queen Elizabeth National Park. Even though it is only a few hours from me, I had never been there before. I had arranged for a private car with a driver to take us. He even had a safari vehicle where the top opened so we could see the animals better. We stayed at the Simba Safari Lodge, just north of the park, for two nights.



On Friday, very early in the morning we went on a game drive in Kasenyi (a game area in the northern part of the park). At first we were a little disappointed. Other that seeing some kob, buffalo, crested cranes and other birds, we hadn’t seen anything all that exciting. Until…we got a glimpse of the big cats. We saw a bunch of cars stopped looking at something, so we stopped as well. They said they saw some lions in the distance. Even with my binoculars, we couldn’t see very much. So after a few minutes the two of us got back in the car and waited for the driver. When he came back he told us we were going to go out and see those lions. So we drove out to where they were and we were within about 20 feet of four lions, 3 male and 1 female. It totally made the drive worth it!

A Crested Crane (the national bird of Uganda)






In the afternoon on Friday we went out to Mweya, where there is a boat ride in the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George. Our driver dropped us off at the Mweya Lodge to have lunch. When we got there we realized that this is where we should have stayed at. It was beautiful! I started to have my doubts that Mihingo was the nicest lodge in any Ugandan park. After we had an amazing lunch there, our driver picked us up and took us to the boat ride. This boat ride was much better than the one at Lake Mburo. We saw lots of hippos and crocodiles close up. Some of the hippos even rocked the boat. We also saw buffalo and elephants as well as many birds!

Where we should've stayed








On Saturday morning, we checked out of our hotel and started out for Ishasha. Ishasha is in the southern part of the park and it is where you can often times see the tree climbing lions. On our way to Ishasha, we saw more elephants, but when we got there we didn’t get to see any tree climbing lions. I guess I’ll have to try again some other time. After Ishasha we left the park and we took the back roads down to Kabale. This took quite a long time because the roads are made of dirt and they wind around the hills (luckily it wasn’t raining). I thought it was really awesome because this is the kind of route that you will never get on public transportation. It was really something to see. When we got to Kabale we had lunch and then we went out to Lake Bunyoni.




At Lake Bunyoni, I had made a reservation to stay at the Bunyoni Overland Resort. Even though it was an okay place to stay, we weren’t very happy with it. Right from the beginning we had our doubts about it. The guy who checked us in was not very friendly and after a while he seems straight up grumpy. He was also the person we had to deal with for everything. The room only had one towel and he was the one we had to bug for another. I didn’t even want to mention to him that we had only a trickle of hot water for the shower. This was the most disappointing part to me, because not only did the guide book brag about the hot water at this place, but I always look forward to a hot shower. The food at the hotel restaurant was okay, but not the greatest. But besides all these faults, the lake was beautiful and the grounds of the hotel were very nice.

The first place we stayed (The Bunyoni Overland Resort)




On Sunday morning, we took a boat ride on the lake. We could have rented a dugout canoe, but my mom wasn’t that adventurous. So instead we got a small motor boat with a driver to take us to three of the islands. It was a nice ride on the lake and it was nice to hear about all its history, but there was nothing all that interesting to see on the islands.

After getting back to the hotel, we ordered lunch and went for a little walk down to, what looked like, a nicer hotel that we had passed on our ride in the day before. It was called the Birdsnest and it wasn’t even in my guide book. After stepping in the lobby, I think we were completely done with the first hotel. This hotel was gorgeous! Later we found out that it was only built a year ago and that is why it wasn’t in the guide book and in fact, it was still under construction partly. After speaking with the owner, Pablo, and meeting his dog, Pacino, we decided to move from the Bunyoni Overland Resort to the Birdsnest Hotel. We went back up, paid our bill, ate our lunch, packed our things and moved.


The second place we stayed (The Birdsnest Hotel)







The Birdsnest had amazing food, a hot shower, and the second night we were there, I think we were the only guests there. It was nothing short of perfect. So we spent the next two days just relaxing around the hotel and looking at the pretty lake.
On Tuesday, we came back to my house for my mom’s last couple days here in Uganda. And on Thursday she left for Entebbe so she could fly out Friday morning. So far, as far as I know, she has only had minimal problems with her flight. Needless to say, I don’t think she ever wants to fly through Heathrow again.
So now I’m back to the same old same old and planning for my next big trip when my parents come in the spring!

Friday, October 7, 2011

October 6, 2011 3:45 PM--Rainy Season

It’s been rainy season here for over a month now.  Some days it rains and some days it doesn’t.  Most days it at least looks like it’s going to rain at some point in the day, even if it never actually rains.  And then there are other days where it rains really hard.  But no matter what, it almost never rains all day.  Today was one of those when it rained really hard.  I was heading to my last class and you could see the rain clouds starting to form.  I got to class and I started teaching.  As I was writing on the board I could hear the rain start and I didn’t think much of it until I noticed the commotion going on in my class.  It was raining buckets outside and it was windy too.  So because many of the windows in the classroom are broken or missing, the rain was starting to come in.  So the girls had started to move all of their desks to the middle of the room.  One of them got up to close the door.  This made no sense to me, because the door is supposed to have panes of glass in it and they were all missing.  So I don’t know what good this was doing.  Another one of the girls also got up to take down the clock, which hangs on the wall above the blackboard (in the middle of the classroom).  This also made no sense to me.  I think the funniest part of this whole ordeal is that it is not uncommon.  These girls are so used to learning with distractions like this.  And by the time my 40 lesson was over, it had stopped raining all together…go figure!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011 12:15 PM

I have another movie pick from my ever growing movie collection.  I watched Out of Africa last night.  Or I should say I tried to.  I watched the first two hours and then there was a problem with the video file, so I didn’t actually get to see the last 40 minutes of the movie.  But even though I never saw the end, I still think it was a good movie and I’d still recommend watching it if you are interested.  It's a Meryl Streep movie from the 80's.  It’s a love story, but in the background of the love story it’s actually about colonial Kenya.  It’s interesting to hear them talk about and go to the different places in Kenya and talk about the Masai men.  So I’m adding it to my movie recommendation list.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011 12:00 PM--OIG

This afternoon I’m supposed to be getting a visit from the office of the Inspector General from Washington DC.  Apparently they are coming to interview me about how good of a job Peace Corps and Peace Corps staff are doing.  This should be an interesting visit.

On another note, my mom will be here on Friday.  This weekend we are going to go to Lake Mburo National Park.  And then next weekend (or extended weekend, I should say) we are going to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Bunyoni.  This should be a fun little trip even though I’m gonna be teaching in between.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011 11:30 AM--Introduction Ceremony

On Saturday I attended an introduction ceremony for Juliet’s “sister”.  I had originally thought it was her actual sister and later found out that it was actually her cousin whom she calls her sister.  That is a very common thing here in Uganda to refer to all of your cousins as your brothers and sisters.  In fact, as she was introducing me to her family members, I noticed she had a lot of brothers.  So I asked her how many brothers she had.  She told me that she only had one actual brother and the rest were her cousins.  It’s also common for them to call their aunts their mothers and their uncles their fathers.  There are a few reasons that they do this.  Partly, because they live in large extended families.  So they don’t differentiate between their cousins and their siblings.  It can also be because if their parents die it is understood that their aunts and uncles will take care of them like they were their parents.  I’m also pretty sure that in most Bantu languages, they don’t have different words for sibling and cousins, as well as aunts and uncles and parents.

Anyway, I initially thought that an introduction ceremony was kind of like a bridal shower, where they introduce the bride.  However, I found out that it is actually more like an actual wedding for the bride’s side of the family where the bride is introducing her family to the groom’s family.  I was told that most of the bride’s family will not attend the actual wedding ceremony, so for them this is the wedding.

Juliet was in the ceremony because she is a close relative of the bride, so I ended up sitting by myself and therefore I had no one to really explain anything to me.  However, even though the entire ceremony was in Lugandan (the groom’s family is from Buganda), I was actually able to figure out a lot of what was going on.  So the bride has all of her female relatives in different groups depending on their age.  And each group is introduced to the groom’s family.  Then the groom’s family gives them all small gifts.  At the very end of the ceremony, almost the entire groom’s family got up and left and they each came back with gifts for the bride’s family.  The women were all carrying baskets of food on their heads and the men brought in a large bunch of matooke, some chickens, cases of beer, soda and water, and even some furniture (a couch and two chairs).  I think this is supposed to represent a dowry.

Overall, I enjoyed the ceremony and I really liked going to Juliet’s village and meeting her entire family.  They kept telling me that I needed to come back and visit them sometime.  Her village was very close to Mbarara town.  Even though it is very close to town, it was somehow still deep in the village, so it was very nice to get to see.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011 4:15 PM

Ugandans use a lot of different phrases.  Some of this is British English and some of it is Uganglish.  Sometimes I wonder if they really understand what they are saying.  Here are some examples of some commonly used words and phrases.

a. Trousers
What we call pants they call trousers.  I’m not sure if this is British English or just a Ugandan thing.

b. Pants
Pants is what they call men’s underwear.  So if you ask someone about their pants they may get embarrassed or offended, because you are asking about their underwear, which, even in the U.S., someone would think is kind of strange.

c.  Knickers
Knickers is what they call women’s underwear.

d. Pick
This one has a couple different meanings.  The one that is most easily understood is that people will say “Can you pick me some sugar?” or “I will come pick you.”  This is the same as using the phrase “pick up”.  They simply just drop the “up”.  The other way they use it is to say “Are you picking me?”  When someone says this they mean “Do you understand me?”  They are literally asking if you are able to pick out the words they are saying.  I’m pretty sure this is Uganglish.  It is their interpretation of English.

e.  Chips
This is British English for French Fries.

f.   Boot
This is British English for the trunk of a car.

g.  Sir/Sebo and Madam
The word for sir in all Bantu languages is Sebo, so they tend to use this even when they are speaking English.  They typically don’t use the word sir very much.  They usually say “sebo” if they want a man’s attention.  On the other hand, for women they say “Madam”.  For example, all of my students will greet me in class by saying “Good Morning Madam”.

h.  Balance
This is the word they use for “change”.  For example, if you are buying something and you want your change, you would ask for your balance.  This is basic Uganglish.

i.  Toilet
Instead of saying bathroom or restroom, they say toilet.  I find this interesting because most of the time they are not talking about an actual toilet.  They are talking about a pit latrine.

j. Bathroom
Bathroom is what they call their bathing area.  So if you said you were going to the bathroom, a Ugandan might be a little confused because they think you are going to bath or shower.

k. Dodging
This is British English for “avoiding”.  So they will say, for example, that some of the teachers have been dodging their lessons, meaning they haven’t been going to their lessons.

l.  A program
Program is what they say instead of plans.  They will ask if you have a program on a specific day or are you free.  This simply means “do you have any plans or are you free?”

m.You are most welcome
When they want to greet you and welcome you, they will say “you are most welcome”.  Whereas we would say more simply “Welcome”.  I guess they feel the need to emphasize it a little

n. Somehow far/somehow near
Ugandans use the word “somehow” different than we would.  When they say something is “somehow near”, what they mean is that it is kind of close.  And if something is said to be “somehow far”, they mean that it is not really that close.  So if you are arguing the price of a taxi ride, you might be saying it is somehow near and that it should not cost that much money.

o. You are lost
Like I’ve said before, if they say “you are lost”, they mean that you haven’t been around.

p. Now Now
Ugandans are never very timely, so when they say now, they may mean in a few hours.  They use the phrase “now now” in order to emphasize that they are actually talking about now.  So if you want to know if a taxi or a bus is leaving now, you have to ask if they are leaving “now now”.

q.  Extend
This is a word they use if you are in a taxi and they want you to move over so they can squeeze more people in.  You can try to explain to them that if you extend you will actually be taking up more space, not less, but this is one thing that I think Ugandans will never understand.

r.  Tomorrow
I told one of my neighbors today that my mom was coming to visit in two weeks and that she would be here on October 7th.  In response to that he said “oh she will be here tomorrow!”  After arguing with him for a few minutes, trying to explain that October 7th is not tomorrow, he explained to me that “tomorrow” is an expression they use to mean that she is coming very soon.  This one makes no sense to me.  They say tomorrow, but they don’t mean tomorrow…

I don’ think there are any Ugandans who have learned English as a first language.  And they typically learn English from other Ugandans who are not native English speakers.  I think this is part of the reason they speak the way they do and not the way we would in America.  They do use some British English, but a lot of their phrases and words are straight up Uganglish.  It’s almost as if they have their own syntax.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011 7:30 AM

After living here for a short time, you start to think in foreign currency instead of converting it into U.S. Dollars.  Part of this probably has to do with the fact that we get paid in Ugandan shillings and not U.S. Dollars.  I find that when I tell people in the U.S. how much something costs, they can’t imagine that I would even need to think about something so inexpensive.  But for us volunteers and the people who live here, everything is somewhat reasonably priced.  However, I guess this whole idea can go both ways.  Ugandans will ask me how much money people make in the U.S. and they think that all Americans are rich, but then when you explain to them that everything in the U.S. costs so much more and that the cost of living is much higher, they don’t want to believe you.  I guess they like to think that Americans are rich, because it fits their preconceived stereotype.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011 6:00 PM

Today I was invited to a Ugandan introduction ceremony.  An introduction ceremony can be closest compared to an American bridal shower.  I don’t really know how similar they really are (I’ll tell you after I go).  It is where they introduce the woman to be married.  I was invited by Juliet, the school secretary.  It’s her sister’s introduction ceremony next Saturday.  It should be an interesting cultural experience.  I’m sure I’ll get asked a million times to compare American wedding rituals and Ugandan wedding rituals.  Kind of like how at school (almost every day) I’m asked to compare the American school system with the Ugandan school system.

I’m also in the process of applying and nominating girls to go to Camp GLOW.  Camp GLOW is a girls empowerment camp put on by Peace Corps volunteers.  GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World.  I applied to go myself (they’re only taking 15 volunteers) and I’m allowed to nominate 5 girls from my school to apply to go.  The girls have to be between 13 and 15 years old, so after talking to my headmaster, I think I’m going to nominate 5 girls from Senior 1, 2, and 3.  The camp is going to be in December right after the term ends, but I should know who is going (including myself) within the next month.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011 7:00 AM--Ugandan Speak

The way people here speak can be an adjustment in and of itself sometimes.  And I’m not just talking about the words they may use (because they do speak in British English), but actually the way they phrase certain things.  One thing that many of them do that I can’t seem to understand a reason for is they ask and answer their own questions.  Instead of just stating a fact, they will pose it in a question and then answer the question themselves.  For example, they may be talking about going to Gulu and in the conversation they might say “Gulu is what?  It is far.”  It can be a very confusing mannerism at first, because they usually hesitate in between the question and the answer.  So you may have a tendency to respond to their question before they answer it themselves.  Another example might be if they are talking about lunch they might say “For lunch we are having what?  Matooke.”  You may have noticed that their questions are kind of phrased backwards, with the inquisitive word at the end.  And that I think I can actually explain.  In the local languages, the question word (or the “what”) always comes at the end of the sentence.  But why they ask and answer their own question, I can’t really explain.  I can only think that maybe they do it for emphasis.  But it can seem strange if you aren’t used to it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 2011 8:00 PM--Kinoni's Weekly Market

Every Monday I go to the local weekly market in Kinoni.  Every time I go there is a little old woman who always insists on giving me something.  She doesn’t speak any English, so I don’t really know why she wants to give me stuff and I can’t easily tell her I don’t need anything.  Apparently when I don’t go to the market she asks for me and sometimes she even sends something for me with someone else.  Today I went to the market and I didn’t see her there.  And then later today one of the teachers from school came to my house with two avocados for me from this old woman.  I think sometimes there are people here who just like foreigners way too much.  It’s one of the amusing parts of being here and it’s not a bad perk either.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011 9:00 AM--Foreign Aid

Many Americans and people in other developed countries often give aid and send money to developing countries like Uganda.  These people think they are helping those who are less fortunate than them.  But what they don’t know is that they are not really helping anyone.  In fact, they are destroying the economies of these developing countries.  All of this aid also gives the wrong stereotypical image of white people (or foreigners in general).  For example, many missionaries have come to Uganda since it became a country fifty years ago.  They give a lot of money, build schools and churches and then two weeks or a month later they are gone, feeling like they did this great thing for the world.  What they don’t know is that they are just giving them money and not helping the local people help themselves.  Developing economies get used to having money just given to them and if foreign aid wasn’t there, the economy might fall apart.  Also, in many communities, if any foreigners come in to try to help, they are expected to bring money.  Many other Peace Corps volunteers have a hard time accomplishing anything in their communities, because they are seen as nothing other than a bank.  Peace Corps volunteers are not here to give money.  We are here to make things sustainable.  But the last fifty years of missionaries can make this a challenging task.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011 8:15 AM--"You Are Lost"

Ugandans tend to use the word “lost” in a way that we don’t always necessarily understand.  For instance, now that I’m back from my three week trip they say to me “oh you have been lost.”  They don’t mean that I’ve actually been lost or unknowingly missing.  They just mean that I haven’t been around.  I also feel like they use this term too often.  They don’t only use it if I’m away for the weekend, but they also will use it if I sleep in and miss morning tea.  They like to be around people all the time.  They can’t understand that I would want to be by myself sometimes.  I think as time goes on they begin to understand it more and more, but it is probably something they will never fully comprehend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011 7:00 AM--Staff Meeting


Staff meetings are notorious here.  They are typically started a few hours late, last for anywhere from 5 to 7 hours, and are incredibly useless.  Yesterday I had my beginning of term staff meeting and I don’t know if I will ever have such an easy staff meeting.  It only started 45 minutes late.  It also only lasted for about three hours and that is including a break in the middle for lunch.  I also found it to actually be somewhat useful.  Obviously a large part of it was useless for me because they were talking about the teachers strike and money.  But I was impressed that the other computer teacher brought up the issue of the non-teaching staff eating their lunch in the computer lab.  They say we have a solution.  We will see if it actually happens, but now they are going to have them take lunch in the library.  I don’t know if that is better than the computer lab, but now it is no longer my problem.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 3, 2011 10:30 AM

So I just got back to site yesterday.  My vacation was pretty amazing despite getting a little sick towards the end.  It was kind of hard to come back.  I went from being around Americans all the time back to being by myself most of the time.  I’ll get used to it but it might take me a few days.  After getting back I noticed that my house is pretty disgusting and not because I left it that way but because it just accumulates dirt and some bugs over time.  So I guess I’m gonna be pretty busy for at least a week or so because I have to clean my house and the term technically starts today.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 12:00 PM--Rafting the Nile


Yesterday we went white water rafting on the Nile.  It was nothing short of amazing!  There were nine boats in total and we filled more than three of them.  In my boat was me, Emily, Ryan, Chelsea, Audrey, and Ali.  We had a really good group.  We didn’t go too crazy but we still had a lot of fun.  Most of the rapids were grade four and five.  We only managing to flip over once, but we got stuck in a tree at the same time.  The entire trip took up almost the entire day and the rafting company had a barbeque waiting for us at the end with some amazing American food.  Overall, I would say it was nothing short of spectacular and I would totally do it again!

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011 10:30 PM


Ugandans get so caught up in getting certificates and awards for meaningless things.  They gave out certificates at the end of the training and that was large reason why many of the Ugandans came; whereas us Americans didn’t care.  They are just so proud of that certificate and none of us can understand this.  I can only imagine it is because of ignorance of the fact that the certificate doesn’t mean anything.  This will be something that I may or may not ever figure out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011 9:00 PM


All day yesterday I was thinking that no one from my school was coming as my counterpart for the training, but then at evening tea I saw my headteacher.  He said that the deputy headmistress was supposed to come but couldn’t at the last minute, so he came instead and that was why he was late.  I was really happy to see him there and I thought it was really nice that he felt that if no one else can come, he will.  It was supposed to be my counterpart and not my supervisor, but I didn’t really have a definitive counterpart anyway.  My counterpart was originally Marion, the other computer teacher, but she is not around all the time and she is very quiet and I don’t really work with her.  My headteacher told me today that my counterpart was leaving the school.  Although he was saying my counterpart was a different teacher, Allen.  I know her and I think she teaches physics, but she is still not someone I really work with.  And apparently she is transferring schools, so she will not be back this term.  So the headteacher has identified a new counterpart for me, teacher Rovian.  She teaches physics and math.  He really wants me to work with her to try to integrate into the community better.  So hopefully this will work out better than my previous two counterparts.

This training is based on us, as PCVs, working on secondary projects.  So it sometimes feels like we are constantly being given ideas for secondary projects and coming up with our own ideas.  We can even apply for grants if we want to work on a project that needs money.  This idea bothers me a little, because giving money is not sustainable.  It also gives people the idea that white people just come in and give money, so when they see us they expect and often demand money.  However, I feel like I have a good project idea and for this giving money might not turn out bad.  My school is pretty self-sustainable and operates almost solely off of school fees.  They also request more school fees if they have a specific project.  They have never asked me for money and therefore, I feel pretty comfortable trying to get a grant for this project.  The project is to build up the computer lab.  Right now we have only two working computer and a fairly large lab that is being used also as a multi-purpose room.  The biggest thing they do in there is let the non-teaching staff take tea and lunch in there.  So I guess my first goal is to get the room totally dedicated to being just a computer lab.  After that is where the grant comes in.  I want to get more computers.  I want enough to be able to teach classes in there.  So I’m thinking maybe ten in total (this is including the two they already have).  Because at that rate, even if there is a class of 50, you can break it in half and take half to the lab at one time.  The way the grants work is that the community (in this case the school) needs to be able to provide 25% of the funding, so that they have some ownership in the project and it is not just us giving them money.  I don’t think this is a problem, because they can get more school fees for this purpose.  And 25% of ten computers among 600 girls is not that much money even here.

So I proposed this idea to the headteacher and he really likes the idea and seems really willing to work with me on it.  He said he wants to have me meet with the Old Girls (school alumni) when I get back and have us come up with a proposal.  However, I feel like he can be a little idealistic sometimes.  But I think if I keep pushing for this, that it will happen before I leave.  It is the kind of project that I might be working on the entire time I’m here and I may never get the benefits from it.  But that’s okay, as long as I can get them to love the project as much as I do, so that it will not just waste away when I leave.  I guess I will need to work on making it a sustainable asset, but that is way down the road.

We had a session today on gender roles.  We had these in our pre-service training as well, but it wasn’t until now that I realized how nice it is to be at an all girls school.  This issue of gender roles is almost a non-issue for me.  My school is so focused on educating girls and they have a good respect for women, which is not always seen as important in this culture.  I also found out recently that it is almost unheard of to have a male headteacher at an all girls school, but I finally found out why my headteacher is where he is.  He apparently didn’t start school until he was 12 and it was only because of the help he got from his aunt and his sister that he made it all the way through Senior 6.  So this plays into why he is so intense about educating “the girls child”.  He was also telling me that he has only been at Kinoni Girls for three years.  When he got there, there were 180 students and now three years later there are 600.  I feel like he genuinely cares about the school and the girls in it.  Many volunteers don’t have this kind of support and I think that is all the more reason for me to try and do something that can really help the school, because when I leave I have faith that he will continue to make the school better and better.

So maybe my ideas are really idealistic and challenging, but I think they are also realistic and doable.  I guess only time will tell…

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011 10:30 PM--IST


So far training has been pretty uneventful.  Last week from Wednesday to Saturday we had our language IST.  It was really unstructured.  We had a schedule, but we kind of just did whatever we wanted.  To me, it seems like if you aren’t making it at site with the amount of language skills you already have, you’re not going to make it at site at all.  If we need our language, we will pick it up along the way.  So last week we did not spend a lot of time in training sessions.  Starting this morning we were supposed to start the rest of our in-service training, however, no one informed us of our schedule or when we had to be awake and productive.  But once we figured it out we started with legit training sessions.  Our counterparts were all supposed to arrive today, as well.  I don’t know if any counterpart is coming for me.  I don’t really work with any particular counterpart.  So when Peace Corps asked for my counterpart’s name and number, I just gave them the number for my headmaster.  And I figured that if he wanted to send someone, he will.  In a way, I’m kind of hoping no one comes, although it may be a good thing if the school sends someone.  So I guess I will see tomorrow whether or not a counterpart comes from my school.  I don’t feel too bad though, because I don’t know that many of the counterparts will come because Peace Corps was so unorganized with inviting them.

I think after today, most of us are sick of training already.  It is really nice to see everyone.  There were about 10 people in my group that I hadn’t seen since our swear-in.  But training is much more intensive than the laid-back atmosphere at most of our sites.  Most of us are just looking forward to going white water rafting this Saturday when we are done with training.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 16, 2011 9:00 PM--Mount Sabinyo

So last weekend a bunch of us went to climb Mount Sabinya.  We left on Saturday and got there Saturday night fairly late.  


Sabinya from our ride to Kisoro


We left to go hiking at around 8 on Sunday morning.  We had been told by some of the other volunteers (athletic male volunteers) who had done this hike before that it was a “narly” hike.  And I’d have to agree that it was pretty wicked.  One volunteer hiking with me even said that if a hike is ever referred to as narly, maybe we should think twice about going.  I only made it to the top of the first peak.



There are three peaks in total.  Even just to get to the first peak there were a lot of ladders, but I heard that to get to the third peak it is vertical ladders straight up for about 40 minutes.



Some of the bridges we had to cross



The ladders got pretty long closer to the top of the first peak, but apparently that wasn't even the worst of it



Someone told me today that it is the hardest UWA (Ugandan Wildlife Association) hike in the country.  There were four of us that didn’t make it past the first peak and we all had our own reasons/problems.  I wasn’t feeling well in the morning and I thought I was going to get sick on the hike, I didn’t have good shoes to hike in, I was really out of shape and I went at a really slow pace.  Other than the four of us who stopped at the first peak, everyone else made it all the way to the third peak.


View of the DRC before we got too far up in the clouds


The first two peaks are in Uganda and Rwanda and the third peak is in Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC.  The four of us ended up eating lunch and hanging out on top of the first peak for a few hours.  We weren’t allowed to go back until the rest came back, but when it started raining and thundering, we insisted that we go back.  But the rest eventually caught up.  Even though I didn’t make it to the third peak, I’m still really glad that I went.  And I kind of want to go back at some point and try it again.  I just need to get in shape, get some hiking boots and maybe leave earlier so we would be able to get back before dark.  I also think hiking with a smaller group might be easier too.

Now after going back to my site for one night, I am at my In-service training (IST).  It was supposed to be at the Rydar Hotel, however they kept holding out to confirm that.  And finally on our way to Kisoro, we all got a text saying that it was going to be at the Lweza Training Center, which is where we had our pre-service training.  It’s okay, but the food is awful and we don’t have a pool and we have to share a bathroom.  Basically, it’s no Rydar.  I was intitially really bummed, but now that I’m here I’m okay with it.  It’s kind of nostalgic.  It reminds me of the first few days I was in Uganda.  I also took a hot shower tonight for the first time in over a month and it was awesome.  So I guess I can’t complain too much.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011 5:00 PM


I started running again yesterday.  It’s not always easy to run here.  I run at around 6:30 AM because it is still dark out and no one is out.  This is good because it is cooler and there aren’t people to stare at me while I run (not that they don’t stare at me when I don’t run).  But this is challenging because it is dark and the ground is uneven.  I also don’t have the easiest time to get up at that hour of the morning.  I guess I also find it hard to run because I have no goal.  At home, I would run in training for 5K’s, but here I have no real goal accept maybe a 5K that I may run after I get back.  So needless to say, it is not easy to run here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011 7:00 AM

So because the school is on holiday until September 5th, I have a nice long break from working.  The even better part is that I get to get out of site for almost the entire time.  This Friday some of the girls who are up North are coming to stay with me, because on Saturday we are all going to Kisoro and we are meeting up with a bunch of other people from our group.  The girls from up North are staying with me a night because it is too far to go all the way to Kisoro in one day.  We are going to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and we are climbing Mount Sabinyo.  It is a one day hike.  It’s 3 or 4 hours up and then another 3 or 4 hours back down.  I think it’s a little late to start getting in shape again, but I started running again today (if that helps at all).  It’s supposed to be kind of challenging but when you get to the top you are straddling Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC all at once.  So we are heading down there on Saturday, hiking on Sunday and leaving on Monday.  I think some of us are coming back to my place for a night because we aren’t due in Kampala until Tuesday.  So then on Tuesday we will head out to Kampala for IST (In-service training).  This goes from the 16th until the 27th.  It’s just more training now that we’ve been at site for four months.  It should be nice though, because my whole training group will be there and we are staying at a really nice hotel.  Then on the 27th, the white water rafting company is picking us up at our hotel and taking us to Jinja.  We are rafting that day and we will be in Jinja for two nights.  On Monday I think I am spending a night at one the volunteer’s places in the East, because we aren’t supposed to be back in Kampala until Tuesday the 30th.  Then from the 30th until September 2nd, we have our all volunteer conference (All-Vol).  So we are staying at the really nice hotel again and it is not just my training group but all volunteers in country.  And then on the 2nd, I’m heading back to site to start my second term of classes.  That, in a nutshell, is my plans for the break.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011 9:30 PM

My first term is officially over.  We had our end of the term staff meeting today.  It was supposed to start at 11 and this morning I found out it wouldn’t start until 1.  It promptly started at 2:30.  And it only went a short 4 hours.  Note my sarcasm.  But one good thing came out of the meeting.  So up until this point every time the headmaster would introduce me he would say that I was sent by the U.S. Embassy and that I’m from Canada.  I always found this really intriguing because the headmaster is the head of the whole school, yet he doesn’t know the difference between the U.S. and Canada.  I guess I could see some average person not knowing the difference but not the head of a secondary school.  That would be like the head of a school in the U.S. not knowing that Africa is a continent and not a country.  Not being able to distinguish between Africa and South Africa.  Yeah there are definitely many Americans who don’t know the difference, but the principal of high school should and probably would know.  So anyway, up until this point I hadn’t corrected the headmaster on this mistake, because I didn’t want to correct him especially in front of whoever he would be introducing me to.  Well, today in our staff meeting they were reading and correcting the minutes from the last meeting.  And in our last meeting, which was the beginning of term staff meeting, the headmaster introduced me as being from Canada and this was reflected in the minutes.  I didn’t even need to correct the minutes myself on this error.  One of the other teachers pointed it out.  So maybe now the headmaster will introduce as being from the U.S. from now on.  I hope so.

Monday, August 1, 2011

July 31, 2011 6:30 PM--Ugandan Little League

Baseball?  In Uganda?  This weekend I went to Nakirebe, which is between Mpigi and Kampala.  There is a little league baseball complex there.  We had the first annual JICA Peace Corps baseball weekend. 



A little background on baseball in Uganda…Some wealthy American built this facility so there could be a little league team here in Uganda.  Last year was the first time they ever went to the regional championship in Poland.  They are in the African/Middle Eastern region.  Needless to say there usually aren’t very many teams that go to the championship.  Last year they went but didn’t win.  But this year they went and they won, which should send them to the Little League World Series in the U.S..  This is a big deal because they would be the first African team to ever go to the Little League World Series.  Unfortunately, due to some discrepancy in some of their ages and lack of birth certificates, they were denied visas to the U.S.  But hopefully they will make it again next year and they will actually get to go to the Little League World Series.

I know all this because there is a film maker (who is actually from Philly) who is making a documentary about all of this called Opposite Field.  We got to watch the first cut this weekend, which was the entire story from last year, but he said he doesn’t think it is finished yet, because the story isn’t finished.

Jay (The film maker who made the documentary)


Anyway, this weekend was a lot of fun.  A lot of Peace Corps volunteers and JICA volunteers (Japanese volunteers) came together to play baseball and see and stay at the training complex built for the little league.  It was interesting because many of the JICA volunteers don’t speak English any better than Ugandans do, but it was so much different than just spending the weekend with Ugandans.  They were really awesome and we had a really good time.  Peace Corps lost the first game versus JICA on Friday, but we won against the Ugandans and then JICA on Saturday.  Overall, it was an awesome event and it was really different than anything else here.  Hopefully we will do it again next year.

There was no lack of Phillies representation at this event

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011 4:30 PM--Teachers Strike

So the teachers finally went on strike today.  It was interesting because I was the only one teaching today.  At first I didn’t even know they went on strike until after my first class.  For the first two classes most of the students came to class and the rest of the students in the other classes were constantly being chased back to their classrooms even though they had nothing to do there.  For my last class, which wasn’t until after lunch, I don’t even think I had half the students so I left it up to them.  I asked if they wanted me to teach and they asked me to go over their exam.  After we went over the exam, I let them go.  Teaching while the teachers are on strike really isn’t that bad.  They don’t picket or anything like that.  So it’s not quite like crossing the picket line like you would do in a strike situation in the states.  They don’t even seem to care that I was teaching.  It was more that they didn’t quite understand why I wasn’t striking with them.  I don’t think some of them really realize that I’m a volunteer and not an employee.  It’s actually kind of funny how they strike here.  The teachers either stayed home or they came to school and did everything as normal except they didn’t teach.  They took tea and lunch as normal.  They were even grading their papers like normal.  The only thing that wasn’t done was teaching.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27, 2011 4:30 PM

It’s Official!  The school is officially closing on the 3rd of August and classes are finished after this week.  So tomorrow is my last day of classes until September.  It was kind of funny because they posted a schedule for what is going on for the next week in the staff room after lunch today.  So when I went to my 3 o’clock class at the end of class I told them this was our last computer class for the term and that we would pick up where we left off next term.  They all started clapping and cheering and asking when they were going home.  This is the point when I realized that no one had told them yet.  Oops.  It had been discussed in the staff room for about a week now, but I guess the students had no idea.  Luckily, the same thing that was posted in the staff room was also posted for the students and they were all hovering around it when class was over.  So I didn’t leave too much suspense.

July 26, 2011 4:00 PM--Kobusingye

The headmaster introduced me to the school’s Board of Governors today.  It was kind of nice and kind of annoying at the same time.  No one informed me that they were having a meeting until it was upon us.  So I was called up to the school because the headmaster wanted to see me, only to find that I was actually being invited to eat lunch with them.  Unfortunately I wasn’t hungry.  Luckily after we ate I was free to go.  But one good thing that came out of today was that the Board of Governors gave me a local name.  Finally someone gave me a local name!  The teachers have been asking me for a while what my local name is and when they find out I don’t have one, they say that the girls should give me one.  And seeing as how the girls still haven’t given me one, I was still without a local name.  So the Board of Governors called me Kobusingye, which means peace.  This is something that happens to most volunteers at some point or another.  It is a nice alternative to the locals calling you Mzungu.  It is a word in their language that they can pronounce and understand and it makes you less of an outsider.  So now I may have to get used to being called Obusingye Jennifer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011 11:00 AM

Today at morning tea all the teachers were talking about some teachers strike.  It sounds like to me that the teachers may go on strike.  They were arguing about whether it mattered or not about whether they were paid by the government or the school.  I found this kind of funny because I’m not paid by either.  So no matter what this strike has no effect on me teaching.  It sounds like it is a country wide thing.  I guess all the teachers from government schools are threatening to go on strike.  We will see how this all plays out.