Sunday, April 3, 2011

they'll call me freedom, just like a waving flag

This weekend was one moment after another of reassuring me that it will all be worth it. Training has felt like forever, and while I still love being around all the trainees and rarely tire of their presence, I am so ready to move to a home that is mine. I'm just ready to be on my own and be able to eat when I want, lay around and read without feeling like I need to be taking tea or making small talk. We find out our site placement tomorrow, get to visit from Wednesday to Saturday, then we have one week of training left, and a week of being in Kampala getting ready for swearing in and moving to site. It kind of feels like it did before I left the states - so anxious and ready to start this for real (because up until now it hasn't been real?) but knowing that it's probably going to be super crazy and hard at times, and that there's no going back.

This past Thursday, PCVs from all over the country descended upon Lweza for the 50th Anniversary celebration. There are 160ish volunteers in country, and I think about 115 came. We had a Day of Service where we cleaned up a school, painted the dorms, planted a garden, fixed a water catchment system so they can harvest and use rain water, taught life skills, and gave a teacher workshop. It was all pretty cool, though I felt like it was pretty opposite of what Peace Corps is usually about. Nothing we did was sustainable, and I highly doubt that much effort will go into keeping up the things we did seeing as how we swept in and did it all and then left. The students and staff at that school don't have much, if any, ownership for any of those projects we did, so it's less likely they'll feel responsible for maintaining them. Case in point: We painted the dorms, and then broke for lunch. Upon coming back to the dorm to put the second coat on, we saw that someone had scribbled on the wall with a pen. Really? After the work was done, we all separated and showered and generally defunkified ourselves, and then reconvened at an amazing hotel for an outdoor reception. There were white tents on a lawn, a buffet with white table cloths, it was like being at a wedding in the states. Of course, it being Uganda, there were speeches. There was a video of the day, volunteers being interviewed about what Peace Corps means to them, and I got a little misty eyed, thinking how proud I am to be a part of this. After dinner we danced on the grass until 1 am at which point we piled into a matatu (taxi) that shuttled us back to the dorms. About half of the trainees rented rooms to avoid a late night, tipsy walk home to inquisitive host families.

In the morning we got up around 7 (habit, ugh) and all dispersed to cook lunch with our language groups. My group made spaghetti and meat sauce, rice and kabobs, chapati, and "chicken soup" which from what I could tell was just pieces of chicken boiled in water. I'm going to have to get the recipe for my mom's chicken soup and make it for people here. Lunch took 4 and a half hours to cook, after a night of drinking and dancing, we were all pretty exhausted starving by the time it came to eat. Granted we cooked three main dishes for 12 people, but I still could not imagine having a family here and having to spend that much time cooking every day. Oh, and we killed a chicken. By "we" I mean the maid and our language instructor, Judith. I felt bad for the poor thing because the knife she used wasn't very sharp and it seemed like she had to saw for a while before it died. The kitten who lives at the house were we cooked was all about getting it's teeth on any part of that chicken it could, and ended up eating the head, the lungs, and part of the intestines.

After lunch, I walked for an hour back to my host family's home, where I skyped with Jenny for an hour, downloaded some fun music from the dance party, and then passed out. This morning I met up with some other trainees and we went to visit a volunteer near here so we could see her house and her school and how she functions in this country as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Her house is around the back of a main house, she has a "porch"/outdoor room that the kitchen is off of, a small living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Granted she has electricity and running water, but just the fact that she has her OWN space to put up pictures and hang her clothes and whatever else she wants made me so optimistic for getting to site. I felt like seeing all the volunteers this weekend gave me such a boost. It showed me what I have to look forward to after training is over, since usually I have no point of reference other than those who are at the exact same place as me.

Now I'm just uploading pictures, and I kind of feel like watching a movie on my computer, but there's no plug in my room and out in the family room people just talk to me all the time and I feel like I'm the rudest person in the world if I get annoyed at all by this family who has shown me nothing but hospitality (but sometimes I just want to watch a movie and not talk.)

Lastly, I would say for now to hold off on sending me anything since I'm moving to site so soon. I still have yet to receive ANY mail, so it's obviously taking a long time. I will have a new address soon and we can try again. At this point I know my mom and one other person have sent a package, and a couple people have sent letters that we'll see if I ever get. (I really hope I do, getting mail makes me the happiest girl ever!)

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