Monday, May 28, 2007

“The blonde kid from Iowa
Personally, I don’t think my hair is blonde, but it is lighter than usual I guess. It’s helpful wearing an Iowa hat in telling people where I’m from.
Be sure to read the last paragraph.
Last night I was able to do something that I’ve wanted to do my whole life…learn a breakdance move. It didn’t take that long to learn it either, so I’m going to try to learn more from April and Teija.
This week was really the first normal week where projects were started and we were constantly busy with things to do. All the schools got back from about a month holiday last Monday. I’ve been helping teach English and Literature. When I’m up in front they call me Master Kasey or just Master. The guys are Masters and the girls are Madams. Ha. It’s a little difficult, but also really interesting and fun going back to elementary. Tuesday we did PE with the kids, so I think I found something that is harder than teaching American football to Europeans…teaching African kids how to play Steal the Flag. They didn’t understand the whole prison thing. They loved running in packs to take the flag, it was funny. The ages of the kids was probably 3-7, about 100 of them. We played Frisbee before they arrived, all the boys and girls came out with no shirt, undies or shorts or skirts, most were just in undies…yeah, definitely something that wouldn’t happen in America. We did stretches, jumping jacks, leap frog, and then Steal the Flag. Tuesday we also started business training. We have about 20 adults we teach at the town center. Tuesday we taught some basics, what businesses are supposed to provide their customers, the 5 external forces, and we played Prisoner’s Dilemma, to get them a little more cutthroat about business. It’s fun teaching it and using examples and suggestions on how to improve businesses here like providing more variety in what they put on chipatis, advertising the single samosa restaurant in Mukono better, etc. Thursday we played the BES game, which is a business simulation that is learner-based and gets the students to learn basic business principles hands-on. Wednesday I went to Parliament all day. Hamis told me that April and I were on TV last week for one of the economic meetings we went to. We went to the Economy meeting and only 3 MP’s showed up, haha, I love Africa. We chatted with them for awhile about American Politics and who was going to win the next election. I did my best to tell them about Mitt Romney and how he’s the best candidate. I asked Hamis if he knew any NGO’s in Northern Uganda that I could work with for a couple of days. So he took me to see the Opposition leader, who is from Northern Uganda. This is the Opposition Leader, kind of like the Senate Minority Leader! He has a big office, really nice couches and carpet, a tv and computer. He was really nice and stopped what he was doing and chatted with us for 20 minutes. This guy is one of the most powerful people in the country and is an important Acholi (one of the Northern tribes) leader. He speaks with Joseph Kony and is one of the mediators between the LRA and the Ugandan government. He didn’t really know anyone personally, so he called in another MP. We chatted with her for several minutes. She is really excited for us to come up there and said she would plan out everything, arrange thing with contacts, etc. I have to get permission this time from the Board of Directors in Provo. So hopefully it’ll happen. The Parliament session was interesting. I forgot to mention this last week, but the ruling party sits on one side and the opposition parties sit on the other. They start with a prayer and then people bring up different items. The first item they brought up is how cups of coffee in the Parliament Restaurant have been poisoned. The person that everybody thought was going to be the president’s successor was poisoned and died. Friday we taught the teachers at the Crane School our first business course. Saturday we helped build an adobe stove at a school in a far away village.
When we went to Parliament, my stomach was really not feeling good. I thought it was the bananas I ate that morning or the meal from the night before. At the meetings my throat started hurting and then got a headache. Then all of a sudden right after Parliament my nose was VERY runny. We went home and I went right to bed. From 6 in the evening to 9 in the morning I stayed in bed and slept maybe 4 hours. It seemed like every minute I was blowing my nose, followed by a sneeze and then maybe some coughing. In the morning I had a super huge headache, and I thought it was from all the fluids that I had blown out my nose. Seriously how much water is up there?! I think I drained my brain. So yeah, I stayed home all day, until 3 for business class, went back to bed at 6 and then Friday I stayed home until 3 for another business class. Saturday I was mostly fine, just weak. But yeah, I am very grateful for health. I had a lot of time to myself, a lot of reading out of the Ensign. I read an article from Valerie Hudson a couple months ago. She’s a nationally recognized political scientist, and is just very knowledgeable about National Security and Chinese Politics. She told her students that the politics stuff isn’t really how things are, the way things really are, are spoken about in Conference and in the Ensign. Anyway, so much reading out of the Ensign made me think of that. Frank, one of my buddies from the Crane School kept on asking the teachers where I was, saying that he missed me, loved me, and I was one of his best friends. When I came back Friday afternoon he held my hand and we talked for like 20 minutes. Ya know, it’s not that weird for me anymore to hold guys’ hands now, they’ve held mine so many times, mostly just when we’re standing and chatting, I don’t let them hold my hand when we’re walking, though.
I received my official Ugandan name- Muonge Kasey Nkula. Nkula is the clan name, meaning the Rhino, and Muonge is just a family name. When you buy a drink here, in restaurants and supermarkets, they always give you a straw. We love having kids sing us songs. One of my favorite songs they sing goes, “Jesus is a winner mannn…”, “Satan is a loser mannn…” They dance to it and everything. Ha, I love it. I don’t think they have wheat bread here. All the wheat bread we’ve tried was just white bread dyed brown. It’s confusing walking past people on the street because we’re used to passing on the right and they’re used to passing on the left. There are pigs, cows, goats, dogs, cats, cranes, other big birds, and chickens everywhere. The pigs next door are always squealing in the morning, so that along with roosters and chickens provide good alarm clocks. The cows have huge horns. When we went to Rwanda they played an African movie. Africans in Holland always watched those movies. They all have the same actors, who are pretty bad at acting, they are done with home video cameras and the plot usually has something to do with witchcraft. I’ve seen bits and pieces, and they are funny. They also played some African music videos. The chorus line goes, “heeeeeya never met a mzungu.” Which means they never met a white person. I guess they’re not actually saying that, but I like to think that they are. I always hear mice running around in the walls and they whine a lot, I can’t remember if I already wrote about it, but I thought there was a bat in the room. I couldn’t see it, but it was either a bat or a big moth. According to people here I talk in my sleep, I talked about soccer very clearly once. I’m pretty sure somebody in our house sleep walks. The last couple nights when I couldn’t sleep I hear somebody walking around, and I heard the door open once. I went to see what was up, but didn’t see anyone, but then I heard more footsteps like 10 minutes later. I would have gotten up but it’s too much work to get out of bed and out of the mosquito nets.
It’s interesting being the only guy with 6 girls. They have funny chats with each other and it’s just interesting hearing what girls are thinking about a lot of things, as Zack Morris once said, the more I’m around girls, the less I understand girls. Girls really do pluck their eyebrows, this morning Tamara said ow after each hair she plucked. I found myself saying something that Alan would say earlier today. Kindra offered me porridge. I said I would rather stick the knife I was holding in my eye than eat that stuff, ha. They’re a lot of fun. The other house is a lot of fun too, their guy goes home next week and they don’t feel safe without a guy in their house so I might be going there next week. Saturday we helped make an adobe stove. It rained really hard for like a half an hour. I really like getting soaked by the rain here. It was funny cause we were fetching water to make mud when it started raining. We laid the bricks and then threw mud on them…and on each other. I’m doing pretty good about putting on sunscreen. We’ve only had a few really hot and really sunny days. Most of the time the weather if just perfect. Right now the clouds are tempting with a thunder-storm, it’s sweet. I always forget to put sunscreen on my ears, they’ve burned a couple times and that hurts. I have some pretty funky tan lines going. I love it how people always ask questions when making statements and then answering. Here’s close to something I heard the other day in Parliament, “RVR will not begin providing services until we’ve done what? Signed the contract.” Ha, that just might be my favorite part of Ugandan culture, everybody talks like what? Like that. Part of Uganda culture is that no one talks at meal time. Church always goes over, it’s pretty funny. Today it only went over 10 minutes, the worst was my first Sunday it went over 25 minutes. I love the pineapple here! The missionaries weren’t joking when they told us that it’s the best in the world. The fruit is really good here. Does anybody know when you can tell if the papaya is ripe? We have a papaya tree in our front yard but no of us know when to pick it. So when I wash my clothes I can never tell if the water is just dirty or my clothes are really dirty when I dump the water. There have been three baptisms the last three weeks. I love baptisms! They make me think about my own baptism, even though it was awhile ago, I remember just feeling good and clean. It’s been one of my favorite all-time days, just really special.
It was interesting the other day watching kids at recess. Some were playing volleyball, some soccer, some were burning things, some were dancing, some were talking, and other kids were just sitting and thinking. A lot of the kids here are orphans. I just think a lot about them, what they’ve gone through, what their goals are, and what life has in store for them. When we were doing the stove, we played a lot with the kids and just had fun with them. One kid had a 49ers sweatshirt, another had a Spiderman t-shirt. I asked him if he knew who Spiderman was. He didn’t know and was kind of confused. The kids we met at the stoves were all orphans, all 200 of them. They live in a village far away. Some of them will probably never go anywhere except Mukono and their village. They know a couple things about this other, modern world, but for the most part they really have no idea. Ya know, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. They are happy, they have fun, life is simple and manageable. It seems like that the more advanced countries become, the less happy the citizens are. That explains the recent surveys that show that people in Africa are generally happier than people in the US, UK, and Japan. Even though they live simple lives, life is still hard, they don’t necessarily have families, they do a lot of hard work in farming to grow food for the school, and teachers beat them. I think I would cry myself to sleep every night, but they are happy. As we walked away and said goodbye I was glad to meet them, have fun with them, and learn from them. In one of the books I’ve recently read, it said that what every person wants is to be important. So hopefully we’re making them feel important somehow.
Hamis and others told us in Kampala that Mukono is known throughout the country for child sacrifices that go on here. They said that newspapers often have stories about these tragedies. The police aren’t really empowered enough to do much to stop the situation. I’ve noticed lot of kids have sticks that go through their ears kind of as earrings. We asked around and found out that parents do that to their kids to give them blemishes so they won’t be offered as sacrifices.
I figured out what the x-factor is for a lot of African men, they like white women. I’m not quite sure what’s going on but I’ve heard from so many people about men who like just white women. I think it has something to do with Hollywood and how people all over the world watch American movies. Maybe African men, because of the entertainment industry, are cultured to be attracted to just white women. There are several older single guys here. A couple of the girls here have been asked out, I wonder if they are just holding out for white women. Man, think about how negative an effect this could have on African society if African men think that African women are second best.
I’m really excited that our projects are rolling. Things are really working out. I work with kids and help out at schools in the morning and then teach business classes in the afternoons and evenings. We’re teaching 4 groups of people twice a week and working on adding more groups. I really believe that better business practices and a better business environment can help the developing world. They need to become more competitive with the outside world by exporting more and provide better goods and services to citizens here. I’m more of a macro person, that the best way to help the developing world is through large scale projects and top-down stuff, that’s why I’m so interested in politics, but also improving businesses. But I still recognize the importance of micro-level projects as well.
This Friday we are going to Jinja. Hamis and his MP, Honorable Fred Nkayi, have wanted us to visit two schools. He says that what the students need to most are to be inspired. But what they mostly want is for us to help the teachers improve their teaching methods. They want us to give a teacher training workshop about cooperation, dealing with children with abnormal behavior, why they shouldn’t beat their students, how to handle teenage girls, teamwork, how school isn’t just about grades but also able personal growth, why it’s important to know the children individually, simple methods of handling children, why creativity is important to develop and how games and other activities can be used as teaching tools. So yeah, that’s a lot, I know. Some of the people in our group are familiar with this stuff because they are elem. ed majors and such, but if there’s anybody that reads this that could email me or even call me and let me know some good stuff we could use and teach the teachers, I would really appreciate it. I really don’t know what should be said, so if you could help me out, that’d be great. K, so you can email me or call me. To call you have to dial 011 to dial outside the US, then 256, then 773153765. Email or call before Thursday 5ish my time, so 8 in the morning Utah time, and 9 Midwest time. So yeah, it'd be nice if you could help us out, you would really be helping out the people here. Thanks.
Wabalee nnyo ssebo oda nyabo! (Thank you very much man or woman)
We had a poetry night last week Sunday. I wrote a poem, it isn’t great cause I wrote it during the exchanging of poems, and it’s mostly inside jokes, but if you’re interested, here it is:
Africa, Africa here I am
Being a mzungu I don’t really blend
Amazing sunsets and stars so bright
Except for sleeping in mosquito nets I love the night
Gosh I love samosas and chipati
As I digest them, they tickle me
People are amazing and very happy
I’m trying to not let this poem get too sappy
If you haven’t taken a boda-boda do so quickly
Isn’t it disgusting how the meat is so drippy
Mukono gives me very much glee
Ha, I love saying poo-poo-agie
Pooped on me too, Tamara just said
Everyday I become more what? Red.
This place is awesome and very supa!
Are we in America? nope…you gone duh!

1 comment:

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Be sure to check out Becca's Blog