a beautiful day

Since I got back from Uganda, my team and I have been working together to fundraise money to send back to Busolwe, Uganda, to continue the kindergarten project that we started there. Today, the school is a registered primary school, and offers five different grades including our original Kindergarten. It is called Mango Grove School. The advantage that our school offers for our students is that it is attached to the community library, which means that teachers have more resources to teach the students, encouraging them to be creative and love reading. We have raised over $3,000 with Cedar Grove Elementary School since last year, and today we did our second presentation at Irwin Park Elementary School.

Our presentation is 30 minutes long and includes pictures and video clips of a few of the things we did in Busolwe for the Kindergarten project. Our presentation script tells the stories of the children who live in Busolwe. We want to share the story of the students in Busolwe with students here, to give them a peek into the lives of children halfway around the world. The purpose of sharing their stories is not just to fundraise money to support the school in Busolwe. We also hope to inspire some students to be thankful for what they have and perhaps one day also go abroad to interact with other cultures.

All the students were so attentive during our presentation– they really enjoyed hearing about daily life and school of the people we knew in Busolwe. We showed them the pictures of the classroom before we painted and renovated it, right before the picture of our completed classroom, and their response was so heartwarming… they started to applaud. We then showed an even more recent picture of the classes set up there now, and it made me so happy to hear them “oooh” and “ahhh” at the progress that Mango Grove School has made. All in all, I think that knowing that they have a story of Africa that is different from the story of poverty and disease that many charities depict is fulfilling enough for me.

Today was a beautiful day. The weather was the perfect backdrop to the many acts of kindness and wonderful interactions I shared with friends and strangers all day long. Vancouver can be such a wonderful place to live in. On my way home, a girl about my age was crying at the bus stop and was afraid to approach my bus driver for directions. She was clearly lost, physically and emotionally. My driver encouraged her to calm down, then promised that he would help her get to where she needed to go, right after giving her a free ticket transfer. I think if it weren’t for this kind driver, she would have been wandering around lost, all night. She was just waiting for someone to reach out their hand to her. Apparently it was her first time taking the bus, ever, so clearly she needed to get away from somewhere quick. I hope that her night turns out okay. At least she knows that a stranger cares enough to listen to her and promise to get her help if she needed it.

It’s been a long week. I haven’t seen my close friends in so long. There are so many overdue coffees and lunches, it’ll be such a relief when I finish my exams. At least then I won’t need to worry about them on top of teaching and trying to accumulate enough work hours.

Trees, mountains, water.

This morning I woke up to a gold full moon, lying low on the horizon. Took the ferry across from Langdale to Horseshoe bay, and the got onto the bus as the sun rose. So peaceful. Last evening we hiked up Soames Hill and watched the sun set. On our right was a brilliant golden sun dipping behind the trees and mountains; on our left was a pale, almost translucent moon coming up. The forest trail down felt so safe. Comfortable. Familiar, though it was my first visit.

I’m going to miss the daily routine of the teacher’s life, which I got to experience the past few days. It felt so right. Stef and I went with her mom to work every day, and I got the opportunity to drop in on several different grades in the school. I felt exhausted at the end of each day, but wonderfully so. I know I definitely will love working in the field of education, with others who share my passion. I guess it’s something I’m really looking forward to, anyway. Two days ago we got to attend a teacher’s workshop, and there we had many insightful conversations with experienced teachers all over the coast. Right now, I get to look forward to my B.Ed program. Stef and I were talking about our (near?) future when we can attend teacher’s workshops together. It’s so meaningful to share our passion, especially since we were with each other in Uganda.

I love living in BC. Growing up in the city, I never got to experience the comforts of “BC Living”: surrounded by trees, mountainscapes, ocean bodies. I guess I get glimpses of the North Shore from various beaches and points in the city. It’s totally different being away from the city. I love it.

It was still really comforting to bus into downtown this morning– I am a city girl at heart. Pulling into UBC made me feel proud; I love this community of students, I feel at home here.

homesickness

 

June 20, 2011- 3:45pm
the afternoon rain (Uganda)

The sky darkens, and a cool breeze refreshes the sweaty afternoon. The clouds roll in casually, not intrusively this afternoon, and begin to sprinkle the dusty ground with cold droplets of water. The light drizzling wafts a clean smell into the library, and I am no longer drowsy with sleep. It smells like home, like a light rainy day in Vancouver.

September 19, 2011
Two days ago I walked out into a drizzling Saturday morning. It reminded me of something familiar, and it wasn’t just the familiarity of Vancouver. I guess it reminded me of the moments I remembered home, when I was away from home. How beautiful. Who knew I would miss Busolwe the same way I missed Vancouver? And now, they are both part of who I am.

Kampala nightlife

Last night Hannali and I were escorted by two guys we knew to the ‘uptown’ club scene. They have similar districts like our Granville St., or our Yaletown area… but with a sketchy twist. It still kind of felt like we were just driving into a cheap parking lot, where the club stood. In the day time it’s probably not that impressive. Anyhow, the music was really good– there was a good mix of music from East Africa, and it was really fun to dance to all the different beats. People just love to dance here, and they do know how to treat the women well. Around midnight, we hopped to another club, which was considered more expensive (the cover was almost as much as those in Vancouver!)… but of course there weren’t any women around, only rich Ugandan men. As soon as H and I hit the dance floor, the whole place was dancing, so that was flattering in some ways.

Around 2am, we took a break from dancing, which was when things started to go sour. The guy that I was with got really clingy and kept professing his love for me, going on about destiny and fate…. I did not take him seriously, told him he was a stranger to me. Which was horrible timing, because then a song came on that sang, “I fell in love with a stranger tonight”. After that I just pushed him away and kept waiting for them to take us home. He made a lot of lofty promises, how he will be there for my graduation, how he will treat me like a lady, etc etc. In my tipsy state, I got really annoyed, and just started to ignore him.

Got home, hit the bed. Men were indignant and upset that they didn’t flatter us. Honestly, Ugandan men think that they are supposed to convince you to like them, as if they are trying to prove something. Flirting with them is impossible; they are so cheesy.

Slept for most of the morning, am back in a coffee shop reflecting on this amusing experience.

Watching Harry Potter tonight, finally!

Travel Plans (with updates)

Entebbe (Gately Entebbe: 3 nights)

August 5

August 6

August 7

August 8, flight out 10am

London (St. Christopher’s Village: 4 nights), arrival 2pm

August 8

August 9

August 10

August 11

August 12, 8:30am flight out

Paris (Le Village Hostel: 3 nights), arrival 11 am

August 12

August 13

August 14

August 15 flight out, 8 pm

London

August 16 (Heathrow Lodge: 1 night), arrival 9pm

flight home

Month 1, perspective

I am in a hotel in the city of Mbale, Uganda. It’s been over four weeks since I left Vancouver, Canada for this continent of Africa. What a strange feeling, looking back on those four weeks. I’ve never experienced learning as I did this past month..

Living in a rural village has not been easy. I don’t think that I have been able to really process how I feel about it, or what I’ve learned from it. I only know that my patience, courage, and selflessness are tested every day, and I hope that it strengthens as a muscle does with workout. Here, we are called ‘muzungus’, which has a wealthy connotation. And in truth, we are wealthy compared to even the most educated and wealthy people here. Why?! I have not figured it out yet. Perhaps I will take an international trade economics course when I am back on campus…

This ‘celebrity’ status we have here, enjoying the privileges of light skin, bothers me to some extent. In all honesty, it isn’t always off- putting… it’s nice to be attended to first, and with more courtesy. If the bank manager sees a foreigner in the bank, he/she will make the effort to walk over and ask, “How are you? Thank you for waiting.”, even though it usually doesn’t make a difference to how fast the line up proceeds it’s the sentiment that makes the wait more bearable. Still, it feels wrong for us to have all this wealth, though most of the Ugandans we’ve met so far work harder than any of us have ever worked in our lives. How is inequality so pronounced??

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my home. Homesickness is a distracting thing, so real and so bittersweet. It makes the day go slower, makes me put on my earphones, chew at my comfort snacks from home…

Homesickness hits unexpectedly, as I anticipated it. It feels like apathy, manifesting itself as indifference, carelessness, and even selfishness. Being as sentimental in nature as I am, it urges me to look through the photos of friends and family which I brought from home. It tires me out easily, and makes me susceptible to irritation at simple things like insects or heat. I am tempted to sit here, to wallow in it with my earphones on, blocking out the realities of this village. (e- journal, June 8, 2011).

I’m not sure what I wanted to update here on my personal blog. Most of the things I think about here really belong on my UBC Blog, but I think I wanted to connect to something from back home… which is this particular blog.

Though I am homesick for the people I care about, I also appreciate all this time I get to spend with myself (besides with my housemates). I think I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zones more than I have ever, in the past month, and I am more sure of myself now. I hope this translates into a stronger belief in myself and my passions when I am back in Vancouver.

 

Staying grounded

Listening to: Give a Little More by Maroon 5

The thing I struggle with the most is staying objective and honest about things in my life. I am learning to be neutral and not so emotionally invested in everything. I appreciate all the honest feedback from the people around me.

It’s really hard to keep in touch with many of my close friends each year because of changes in circumstance. I am always moving fast to get closer to my ‘future’, and because of this I engage in regret to relive the past that I often hastily moved from. I push for the truth, and yet I can be too sensitive to it. I say I am honest to everyone, but I don’t think I am honest enough with myself. It’s difficult to be in touch with ‘me’, because I am still unsure of who that is.

Lately a series of events have gotten me to redefine my goals, but more specifically. I know what I am passionate for, and it is up to me to work towards that with a strong personality and an open mind to learn. Instead of putting myself down, I will work to shift how I view things. I need to stop putting others over myself so much. There are a lot of things that I haven’t yet learned from life, but at least I know I have the toolkit to deal with them honestly and openly. I am going to put myself first when it matters. I am working to dedicate my life to others, as an educator. I want to promise myself a year or two off, to travel and work in rural villages as a teacher. Three years from now: I want to be involved with Teachers without Borders.

(en) Uganda Location (he) מיקום אוגנדה

Image via Wikipedia

I am going to Africa in 30 days. Travelling will be a good space for me to just spend time with myself. Teaching and learning in the Uganda communities will be a wonderful way for me to engage in what I’m most passionate for: education, and the reading culture. I look forward to my plane ride out of Vancouver, my home. I think that I will appreciate home much more after my trip. Or perhaps, I will be drawn to the excitement and flexibility of travelling space and time zones.

I am five exams and a summer away from my senior year at UBC.