Thursday, May 31, 2012

20 days and counting...

I'm going to miss Ben's head greeting me through the gate's peephole. Dog will still be with me, gate will not. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reflection, 21 Days Until Departure

My grade 9 students just finished a unit on major conflicts/their impacts on individuals within war-torn communities. As part of the unit, students were asked to interview someone who was directly exposed to a major political or military conflict. I had no idea how easy this was going to be.

Most of my kids interviewed close family members: mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts... my students' families were in rebel attacks in the Philippines, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, WW2, the Rwandan genocide, the Bosnian conflict, the Ethiopian Civil War, the civil war in Burundi, political conflicts in Mali, large scale unrest in Romania, various violent upheavals in Uganda (including tortures at the hands of Idi Amin and the forced immigration of individuals from Asian decent); a variety of ISU faculty members and teaching assistants also volunteered their stories.

Interviewees were soldiers that fought on fronts, civilians that fled across continents, friends with presidents, genocide targets, Indian generals, refugees,  jailed political activists, parachuting air force members, military deserters, and IDP camp aid workers. Many watched family and friends die. Nearly all were shot at, bombed, or threatened with violence. Most were neutral civilians that were actively victimized. A few reaped the benefits of war. More suffered heavy losses.

I have been blown away with the horrific situations so many of my students and their family members faced; I've been shocked by the relative political power many held.

I realize that in my lifetime, there have been many armed conflicts, most of which I heard little about in their times.  How has the escalating violence between Sudan and South Sudan been sheltered from the public eye? Where was the media as Hutu and Tutsis violently clashed in Rwanda and Burundi?

Where was I? Why didn't I know more/care?

Working in the community that I work in, I have realized how little I really know of the world. One thing I do know for certain: I've lived a blessed life of peace. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Processing: Part 1 of unknown

The end of my time in Uganda is rapidly approaching. I feel as though I am avoiding blogging partly because I have been excessively busy in preparation for my departure and partly because I have begun the whirlwind of conflicting emotions. However, I am conscious that in several months I am going to want a record of this emotional journey.

In a few weeks…
I won’t be silently cursing the relentless string of belting choir practices.
I won’t have to check my water cooler light to confirm if my power is on.
I won’t wave to a host of familiar neighborhood guards every time I walk or drive.
I won’t be greeted by “Hello Madam” or Loveline’s huge hugs every time I enter the compound. I won’t be questioned about English vocabulary by Harriet. We won’t swap our cultural approaches towards an array of topics.
I won’t hear the regular Nokia SMS chime at 4:45 and know that it is Lindsay confirming our evening walk. I will not need to stress about getting Ben on leash to avoid baby goats running free on campus. I’ll have no concern about whether my dog will kill someone’s stray chicken. The chained guard dog under the tree won’t faze me.
I won’t have to fight copy machines, Umeme, the business office, or Orange.
I won’t hear the VanPee kids speed their un-muffled motor cross bikes up and down the road.
I won’t have game night, or Bible study, or home-church Lubowa.
I won’t have to avoid eye contact with traffic cops.
I won’t run into six coworkers every time I want to buy milk at the store.
I won’t be chased by half-naked children shouting “hello muzungu” as I slope through the fields. I won’t watch my step to avoid lines of safari ants.
I won’t have to cook for every social gathering.
I won’t be passed by the president and his entourage, complete with a port-a-potty, every other time I head into town (usually driving on the wrong side of the road at high speed, like all “important” diplomatic sorts).
I won’t have a backyard. Or a three-bedroom house with a porch. Or two broken toilets, one broken shower, one constantly dripping faucet, and about a dozen broken lights.

No one will ask me how I am doing before saying hello.
No one will try to buy my dog while I walk.
No one will stroll beside me casually carrying a gun.
No one will park a tank in an intersection. Or a cow, for that matter.
No one will ask me what we’re doing in class or when I will return their papers.
No one will drive up on a boda, or a mutatu and offer me a seat.

I’m excited. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m lonely. I’m loved. I’m pushing away. I’m clinging. I’m not sure I’m ready to let go in just three weeks.