Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—April 17, 2013 (Day 29)



Name: Caitlin Haden

Age: 24

Home Town: Denver, Colorado

What she did before Peace Corps: Graduated with a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Minor in Elementary Education, and was working as a Case Manager for a housing program through an agency that provided services to homeless teens and young adults in the Denver metro area. She also volunteered with children with cancer.

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 5

Host Organization: Kabale-Bukinda CPTC (Core Primary Teachers College)

Site location: Southwest region, Kabale District, Bukinda Trading Center

Language spoken at her site: Rukiga

Caitlin is working with Kabale-Bukinda Core PTC where she has been assigned to be a literacy specialist. She will also be teaching English Language classes and promoting literacy techniques amongst the students. Even though Caitlin is new to site, she has already managed to start a secondary project. She is planning on starting “Pub Trivia” at her college to help the students review for their national exams. Her hope is that this program will became a nation-wide program. She is also planning on working on a project to make sure that all of her PTC students have a way to hang their mosquito nets when they are living at the primary schools during their school practice.

Even though Caitlin’s school serves meals throughout the day that she could partake in, she prefers to cook for herself. She gets most of her food at the supermarket in Kabale Town, but there is also a local market in her trading center where she can get fruits and vegetables. Caitlin also has running water and electricity in her house.

Caitlin’s favorite things about her site are its location and the amenities she has there. “We’re in a valley and the hills that surround us are easily accessible. They make for a great hike and adventure around my site.” So far, Caitlin's favorite moment at her site is when she went out to school practice a few weeks ago to an all boys school. “They [the students] surrounded me and we went up to a hill where we just sat and sang songs and played together.” Her biggest challenge at site is the lack of structure between her college and the local university, Kyambogo University. She also struggles with the way the teachers at the PTC don't use the timetables for the classes. So teachers often don't follow the set schedule for class and they just teach when they want to.

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Name: Julia Lingham

Home Town: Boston, Massachusetts

What she did before Peace Corps: Worked for Boston University for their study abroad program in Australia

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 5

Host Organization: Nyabirerema Demonstration School

Site location: Southwest region, Kabale District, Bukinda Trading Center

Language spoken at her site: Rukiga

Julia is working with Nyabirerema Demonstration School. One of the projects she is working on is building a resource room. Her school has a lot of donated books from American organizations, so she is working on setting up a library. Currently she is assessing the reading skills of the students. And in term two, she is going to do small group work with 20 students at a time trying to improve literacy. She is trying to encourage the other teachers to use the resources they have. She also does read-alouds with the kids. In addition to all this she is working on positive reenforcement, where she will also be working with other volunteers on how to improve positive reenforcement among teachers and students.

Julia's favorite thing about her site is the location. “I love Kabale. I love the altitude and the mountains.” She also really loves living with another volunteer. She feels that it keeps her more sane at site and she is less likely to really want to get out of her site for weekends. Her favorite moment at site was when she cut all her hair off. She had another volunteer do this for her shortly after she got to site.

Julia's biggest challenge at her site is “Big Man syndrome.” This is when men here in Uganda think that they can do no wrong and when they belittle people to make themselves seem more powerful. This has caused problems for Julia because she struggles to work with certain people at her site because she often can't get a word in edgewise. She has also struggled to form relationships at her site. She is trying find a new counterpart, because her assigned counterpart is not very enthusiastic about working with her. She found two potential counterparts, but both of these people got transferred to other schools.

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The view from the PTC down into the trading center
This morning I left Kisiizi at around 7 AM. Alia knew a taxi driver that goes from Kisiizi to Kabale and he leaves promptly at 7 so she called him yesterday to reserve a seat for me. It only took me about an hour and a half to get to Bukinda, which is about 30 kilometers north of Kabale. During the journey it started to rain but luckily the rain mostly stopped by the time I got to Julia and Caitlin's site.

When I first arrived in Bukinda, I walked up to the PTC where Julia met me and took me back to her house. Julia and Caitlin have a very unique situation. They both live in the same house on the PTC campus. They are the only Peace Corps volunteers in Uganda that actually share the same house (except married couples). There are some volunteers that live close to each other or even right next door to each other, but no other pair of volunteers live in the same house, except for married couples.

Some of the very colorful buildings on the PTC campus
After getting to their house they offered me a cup of tea and we sat and chatted for a while. Then Caitlin took me through some of the PTC campus to show me around and she also introduced me to her supervisor and some of the other staff members. Once I had seen the campus, Julia and I decided to head to Kabale Town.

Kabale is about a 30 minute drive from their site and it is easy to get a taxi at the main road. Once we got here I went to Edirisa, which is the hostel that I'm staying at tonight and tomorrow night. I wanted to check in and get settled while Julia ran some errands in town and eventually she came to meet me for lunch. After lunch, a few other volunteers ended up meeting up with us and we spent most of the rest of the day just hanging out.

I decided to spend tonight and tomorrow night at this hostel, because it is my last two nights on the project. Despite the fact, that everyone I've stayed with so far has been so nice and hospitable, I felt like I just needed my own space. I needed a break and I wanted to have my own place for a couple nights.

Tomorrow I'll be traveling out to Lake Bunyonyi to see my last and final site. After tomorrow this project is officially finished and I'll be going to Jinja for the weekend. For now, 29 down, 1 to go!


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