Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uganda February 2011 Bridge to Post

Welcome and Introduction

In a short time from now you will be congregating for Staging, and soon after that you’ll be on your way to Uganda! Our staff here has been preparing for your arrival for some time now, interacting with communities and partner organizations to identify viable work sites and identifying and training the people who will facilitate your Pre-Service training. We are most excited about your arrival.

Arrival in Uganda

Suggested Dress upon Arrival

Please plan to dress nicely upon arrival. This means skirts (below the knee) and shoulders covered for women; trousers and shirts with a collar for men; No jeans, shorts, T-shirts or skimpy tops. All of you should be wearing comfortable but tidy shoes; please no flip-flops or sneakers upon arrival. This will generally be the case during training, although sports andfieldwork will involve a different look – we’ll go over that once you are here.


Several Peace Corps staff will meet you at the airport. We will be waiting for you when you exit the airport after you clear immigration and customs. We’ll also help get everyone together through immigration and customs, and on the bus for a thirty-minute ride to a simple little place with a lot of Peace Corps Uganda history called Lweza Training and Conference Centre. We hope to move you to Homestay families in the Lweza area as soon as the election process isover.

Peace Corps Uganda Staff

You’ll be meeting a number of Peace Corps staff the first few days: The Country Director (CD) Ted Mooney; Associate Peace Corps Director for Administration (AO) Gary Vizzo; Training Manager Shirley Byakutaga; Program & Training Officer (PTO), Jan Droegkamp; Program Manager (PM) for Education Mary Olinga; the Safety and Security Coordinator (SSC) Fred Kiyingi; and the Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMO) just to name a few. They and others will meet with you early on to start the process of your in-country training and to getting to know you. During the program team interviews we want you to tell us more about your skills and hobbies; and the Peace Corps Medical Officers will collect data regarding your health profile.  All this information will assist us in determining the initial language groups and family homestay
assignments. Also, on the first day of training you will receive an “Introduction to Pre-Service Training” from the Training Manager.

Emergency Contact Info

Peace Corps Uganda emergency contact phone number is: 256.772.200534. This cellular phone is held by a staff person 24-hours a day. Staging staff will provide you with emergency contact information should you need to contact someone during your flights and transiting in Europe. Our in-country medical personnel also have a duty cell-phone number which is:

Orientation (Arrival Week)


February 11, 2011: Airport arrival, transfer to Lweza Training and Conference Centre and a welcome tea. Lweza Training and Conference Centre quarters will be shared with other customers apart from our training group.

February 12, 2011: The Country Director will welcome you and the Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) will introduce you to the medical program and give out Medical Kits to you.  Thereafter, the Safety and Security Coordinator will give you some security tips. Other activities include an overview of Peace Corps Uganda by the Country Director, the Role of Volunteers in Development (RVID) and Introduction to the Project Plans by Project Manager.

February 13, 2011: You will do a lot of getting to know each other and team building activities, and come up with group norms to guide you in living and working with each other harmoniously.

February 14, 2011: Valentine’s Day! You may want to do a Valentine’s Day activity to begin the day. There will be individual meetings with the Program Manager, the Country Director, and Medical Officers. During the same period, there will be “survival” Luganda lessons – the language commonly spoken in Kampala, Entebbe and Buganda region. You will also have your passport photos and passports collected by a staff member. A small amount of walk-around money will be given to help you buy some few personal requirements

February 15, 2011: You will learn survival Luganda for one week and learn about the history of Uganda and its current affairs. You will be arriving at a time when elections will be planned so it will be interesting for you to learn and see how the history of Uganda affects the political aspects of the country

February 16, 2011: You will have a Safety and Security session in the morning focusing on the Acceptance model. You will also be introduced to the Ugandan school structure.


You will have access to your bags the whole time you are at training but for emergency purposes (in case your luggage gets misplaced en route) you need to pack a small “ Go Bag.”  This should include nice clothes for your arrival, some appropriate attire for sports activities such as soccer or a volleyball game, and a couple of changes of comfortable clothes as described in the Welcome Book. Shorts are not appropriate, except at times when participating in a sports activity, and should never be worn outside of where these activities may be held.  Women’s skirts should be well below the knees. Light, comfortable trousers are appropriate for men. Please be advised that generally in Uganda, flip-flops should only be worn when showering or as house slippers, but not in public. You will have the opportunity to reorganize your baggage for the training period, and to leave a large bag in a storage area at the training site and take what you need to your homestay. Please note the education program has a more conservative approach to dress and considers the dress code as part of professionalism. You may need to begin adjusting your mindset about dress.


You will receive vaccinations on the first days of your arrival. You will receive further information once you are here.


Please know that there is no immediate access to phones or the Internet at the Lweza Training and Conference Centre. PLEASE make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations regarding this before you leave the U.S.! Postal services are not available in Lweza and letters take about four to five weeks to arrive at their destination after they are sent. This is the case for mail going either direction. As such, it may be thought best to get your “pipeline” of letters started right away.

Local Currency/Money matters

You will receive a weekly allowance called a small daily “walk-around allowance” in Ugandan shillings to cover the purchase of personal items such as a bottle of water, a soda, newspaper, etc. You can exchange money at a local bank in Kampala but, if thinking to do so, please know it is best to bring larger denomination bills, such as $50 or $100, dated after 2006, since it will affect the exchange rate. Remember, though, don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose.

Local Conditions

Well, what to say? It’s a wonderfully different place. Visitors at times find it hot, but the shade is cool. It might be raining or it might be dry – this time of year is variable. If it is dry, it will be dusty. The most important thing to remember is that respect here in Uganda is shown initially through your willingness to dress nicely and cleanly in someone’s presence; please follow all guidelines for dressing in this conservative culture.

Safety and Security
You will want to buy a mobile phone here and we will help you do that in the first several weeks of training.

Please use your best street smarts when it comes to safeguarding your personal possessions.  Keep money, phones and cameras close to your body. Keep your eye on your luggage at the airport. Female Volunteers might get unwanted attention during their stay in the Lweza area.  During PST we will discuss this at length and find culturally appropriate ways to say no to the attention and possible harassment in the workplace and the community.

Pre-Service Training

Training Site

Lweza Training and Conference Centre is a thirty-minute ride from Entebbe Airport. It is a simple little place with a lot of Peace Corps Uganda history. When Peace Corps re-opened in 1991, this place was its first home. A number of PCV generations have initially passed through here. In addition it is the only monkey sanctuary in a sub-urban setting! You will reside here for at least two weeks and later on you will be using the training centre as your hub for the rest of PST. The surroundings are developing very fast with a lot of building construction going on.


Vegetarians can get along quite well in Uganda. Plant protein foods are plentiful (beans, peanuts, soybeans, etc.) and there are a lot of vegetables, greens, and fruits. However, vegetarians should be prepared to explain to homestay families their concept of vegetarianism.

Overview of Training Schedule

This Pre-Service Training will be mix of a center-based and a community-based approach.  This means that, after a few days gathering at central points for large sessions, we will then begin to hold our sessions in the communities, especially in schools in smaller groups, using the trainer houses, or places where community members gather. It emphasizes hands-on training and learning by doing. You will practice working with community groups to enable you get acquainted with Ugandan learning and working styles. The initial weeks of training are as follows:

Week 1: Overcoming jet lag, and interviews with individual Program team members and the Medical team. This week involves community entry, as Trainees begin to understand how to communicate with their Ugandan staff and communities. We will explore Uganda’s history, issues of community development and the Volunteer’s role in that development; personal health; and cross-cultural issues. The focus is on community entry skills and techniques, the concept of HIV/AIDS—at the global and local level.

Week 2-3: Field-based training:

In these weeks you will be exposed to many different relevant technical areas and issues regarding the Ugandan education system and procedures which will be presented to you through a combination of classroom and experiential learning activities.

Week 3, 4 and 5: Tech immersion
Secondary Education Trainees: You will be familiarized with National Teacher College activities; engage in practice teaching within local secondary schools; gain practical skills and knowledge in laboratory management; and many other activities that will effectively prepare you for classroom teaching in Math, Sciences, an ICT.
Primary Teacher Trainers: You will become familiar with College-based Training of pre-service teachers in the field; observe and engage in primary education classroom teaching; focus on effective curriculum development; become familiar with teacher development and management systems; gain skills and experience in planning and facilitating workshops, and much more.

Week 6 Language Immersion:
You will go with your language trainer in an area where the language is spoken to give you a better feel and grasp of the language in a real life setting.

Week 7: You will focus on other Peace Corps initiatives and ways to promote them at your schools, among the youth.

Week 8: You will have other component sessions and go on a site familiarization tour.

Week 9: Language final assessment and wrap up.

Week 10: You will meet your supervisor and counterpart and relationship-building will kick-off a future site visit. Then you will conclude by being sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer if you complete all the training requirements to become a Volunteer.

Cross-training: Secondary and Primary Education Trainees will be cross-trained in such areas as alternative discipline in schools; hygiene and sanitation education in the schools; malaria prevention and control; games and sports; instructional material development in resource-poor settings; etc. In addition you will learn about such areas as integrating HIV/AIDS education; construction and promotion of fuel-efficient cook stoves; Life Skills promotion and education; etc.

Building Community Relationships:
You will explore work opportunities using an asset based approach and how to extend PCV work to reach all the beneficiaries of a project. Overall, you will redefine your role as a development agent. In addition you will be required to demonstrate your readiness to embark on your technical work by presenting a model workshop based on the needs assessment you will have done in a Ugandan community through Self Exploration Studies.

Language Proficiency Testing:
Peace Corps regards language both as a social and safety issue. It attaches great importance to your learning a local language to enable you integrate in the community. You will take a language proficiency test to gauge your proficiency in a Ugandan language that you will begin to learn during the arrival week.

Basic methodology and assessment criteria for PST
Peace Corps Uganda’s Pre-Service training emphasizes 1) hands-on experience, and 2) developing an ability to live and work comfortably and effectively in a rural Ugandan setting.  While the initial week of training involves coming together at a central site, as the training progresses we move sessions more and more into the community. We find this is the fastest way to get you acclimated into the culture, so that you can become a more effective volunteer.

“Competencies” are the skills, knowledge and abilities that we have identified as necessary for effective service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda. In each component of training, we use “competencies” to help focus the sessions and to help you monitor your progress. The trainers have the responsibility of recommending you to our partner organizations (NGOs and Government Ministries) and to your Program Manager as ready to be sworn–in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. You will be advised of these competencies during the first week of training, and you will be asked to take part in several assessments during PST in order to monitor, 1) the effectiveness of training, and 2) your progress toward acquiring the necessary competencies. You will have a language proficiency interview and you will present a qualifying project. You will demonstrate to the training staff your ability to integrate into a community shown in the skills you
will develop through interactions, taking into action what you have learned, and habits formed at home.

Overview of Training Components
Training components are:
• Cross Culture
• Community Development
• Language
• Safety and Security
• Technical knowledge and skills
• Administration
• Medical

Sample Day’s Schedule While with Homestay Families
A sample Trainee’s day usually begins at 8.00a.m. and ends at 5.00 p.m. for formal training– which includes four hours of language sessions, usually two in the morning and two as community practice, and then a technical session. There is a strong emphasis on integration, so the specific aspects of cross culture and safety and security are incorporated into language and technical sessions. After 5:00 PM Trainees are expected to return to their home stay families.  There you will continue learning language and cultural skills through participating in home chores and in interacting with family members and neighbors.

Swearing-In Date
The swearing-in ceremony will be April 21, 2011


  1. Great plans for Uganda. The projects are worth waiting and people from their will surely be excited for the progress and as well as the other countries near it.

    Freight Broker License

  2. Hi Jen,

    My name is Michael Boudreaux and I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and traveled through Uganda after my tour. I befriended a young man, Emmanual, who I later sponsored for school. Emmanual is telling me he has a serious medical condition that he needs help paying for. I'm looking for a volunteer posted in the Fort Portal area to help me assess his situation before I just send money.

    Emmanual's situation may be quite serious, so I would really, really appreciate any advice!


    Michael Boudreaux