Wednesday, April 3, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—April 3, 2013 (Day 15)



Name: Alexander D. Bush

Age: 26

Home State: New York

What he did before Peace Corps: Taught English as a foreign language at a private school in Manhattan

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 25

Host Organization: Muni NTC (National Teachers College)

Exact site location Muni Village, Arua District

Language spoken at your site: Lugbara, and some Alur

Alex is working with Muni NTC (National Teachers College). “I mostly teach English literature to pre-service secondary English teachers. I also get to teach some methods and observe student teachers when they give practice lessons when they’re in the field. During the normal school holidays I do in-service training for Primary school teachers.” Alex never got the opportunity to work on secondary projects, because he had no support from his college. “I was discouraged when I arrived at my site because all my counterparts shot down the ideas because they had been tried by previous NGOs.”

Alex does most of his food shopping in Arua Town, although he usually buys things such as eggs, tomatoes and onions in the trading center near his school. As for water, Alex has running water in his house, however, as with most running water, this isn’t consistent. So when water fails, in the dry season for example, there is a borehole a short walk from his house.

Alex’s favorite things about his site are the location and the privacy he can get there. “I’m close to the amenities of Arua Town, though my site is very quiet even when school is in session. I’ve also found that there is a nice expat community around to associate with.” He has difficulty identifying challenges there. “My difficulties normally relate to perceived inequities and failures of the curriculum to prepare future students.”

Alex finds his school and his community interesting and unique because they don’t so much interact with one another. “There is an almost complete social division between the college and surrounding community. Teachers and administration that live on campus have little to no interaction with most of the surrounding population.“

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This morning I left Tom and Marcy's house and headed toward Alex's. Alex's school is about an hour walk from Arua Town. He lives out here at the National Teachers College campus. So when I arrived, he showed me around the campus and gave me some brief history on the place. After that we went into town to get some lunch and do some shopping.

We went out to lunch at the Ethiopian restaurant in town. I had never had Ethiopian food until I moved to Uganda and now I love it. You always hear people joke about it...”I didn't think Ethiopian people had food.” But compared to the rest of East Africa, Ethiopia is a country that has truly figured it out. Along with Indian food, Ethiopian food is one thing that Uganda really knows how to do well.

Alex taking a break in the supermarket trying to decide what to make for dinner
After having lunch we went to the market to get some food to make dinner. In the Arua food market there is a whole section of food that is usually only frequented by the white people and the Indian people. So we were able to get green beans, zucchini, and cilantro along with onions, tomatoes and other staples that were necessary.  We also went to the supermarket.

Women selling local snacks outside the market


Alex is the first guy I'm actually staying with while working on my project. To me as a Peace Corps volunteer this doesn't bother me at all. As long as I can get a place to sleep I'm good. And trust me, some Peace Corps accommodations are a bit rough (male and female). The reason I was thinking about this is because today it was really emphasized to us that Ugandans really struggle to understand the idea of friends. Just walking through the market with Alex today, we had several people ask if I was his wife. Every time this came up, Alex would tell them in the local language that I'm his friend. Usually they don't believe us and they would laugh. However we did have one woman ask if she could be his wife. So to emphasize this friends concept, I told her to feel free to take him.

Tonight we are just cooking dinner (the menu hasn't been decided yet) and hang out. Tomorrow I'm going back out to Ediofe to visit Chelsea at Radio Pacis, so I'm hoping to see another view on Ugandan radio with a radio station that is well established.

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