Friday, 23 November 2012

Thanksgiving in Uganda

Celebrating Thanksgiving doesn't just have to be limited to being in America. Here in Mukono we celebrated Thanksgiving like we were back in the States. There was turkey (grilled not baked), stuffing, yams, green beans, mashed potatoes and all the desserts your heart could desire. The one thing we could not do was watch football in the morning. Yet we made up for that by playing football in the afternoon before dinner. Check out the pictures below of our Thanksgiving celebration!

Before the rumble in the jungle... or Mukono

Semi-action shot

The game is so intense that people are running in every direction

You wouldn't want Heather blocking you!

What is Thanksgiving without playing a little bit of corn hole?

Dinner time!

Wouldn't you be this happy if you were in a line for desserts?
(delicious desserts courtesy of the students)

post by program assistant Tiffany Gathers

Monday, 19 November 2012

Life in the Dorms.

You know what it’s like to live in a dorm: there’s music and dancing, there’s snack time and tea time, and of course, the reason we’re all here—studying! At UCU, life in the dorms is pretty typical. Students in the Uganda Studies Emphasis and Social Work Emphasis live on campus in the Honors College dorms, some room with UCU students, some in singles, and some with other USP students. So, while studying and sleeping have their place, there’s also time for impromptu movie watching, deep conversations, informal worship times, and even birthday parties and breakfast feasts.

A couple examples of the fun events: Earlier this semester USP students planned a surprise birthday party (birthday dance party no less, complete with cake) for their fellow classmate, Jean. Jean, a Ugandan Honors College student at UCU turned 22 and her friends, new and old, joined in the celebrations. As is typical in Uganda, she was doused with water (bath-day!), sung to, and given the honor of cutting and sharing the cake.  

October 9th is Uganda's independence day, and this year marked 50 years of independence. To help celebrate, USP students hosted a pancake breakfast for the Honours College students. It was an adventure cooking pancakes on a charcoal stove, but students were up for the challenge and the pancakes were delicious.

An important characteristic of Uganda’s communal culture is sharing and the dorms here are the perfect places for sharing to occur. This manifests itself in many ways, not only in sharing things like irons (for neat or 'smart' clothes), kettles and basins (for heating water, and washing), but students also share plenty of laughter, good stories, the celebration of life, and even cultural practices like pancakes for breakfast.

post by Program Assistant, Ruth Berta

Monday, 5 November 2012

Yoga!: A student's perspective on rural home stays by Becca Arnold

Hey everyone! So this past week, we headed up to Serere, Soroti, Uganda for a week of rural homestays! Going into this, I am not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. Where I live here, in Mukono, it is an unusual mix of urban and rural living. But growing up in the city, the idea of rural Uganda was a completely unknown world.

We left on Friday on a seven hour bus ride to the village. Friday night, we ended up spending the night at a guest house where myself and a few others chose to sleep in a tent for the night–the real camping experience haha, sort of.
Our beautiful home away from home... at least for the night

That night we ate together as a group and had a bonfire. It was a great way to end our time together for a week of separation. A few people and I stayed up a little later to watch the stars. It is so unfathomably beautiful out here with no light pollution. God is just so darn big and He knows each of these stars–pretty crazy! Eventually we went to bed in preparation for our big day the next day.
We woke up and found out that we were all being paired for our homestays with one other person. So I was paired with Emily. We drove for about 45 minutes and we were at our home for the week–quite isolated. But it was beautiful. Our family lived on a compound with about four huts and two buildings. They had 31 cows and 4 pigs and a ton of chickens and goats! 
One of the huts on our compound

Visiters enjoying oranges and tea with Emily and I

Our family consisted of our Toto (or Mama) and our Papa, our Toto’s sister, and then a nine year old little boy who was related in some way, Joseph. Then throughout the week, there were so many visitors in and out, it was hard to keep them all straight! The first couple of days our Toto’s daughter, Betty, came with her three children: Mercy, Emmanuel, and Faith. We had such a blast with all of the little kids! It was so sad when Betty had to leave with her kids on Wednesday :/ But we still enjoyed our time with Joseph–he was our buddy! Although he did not know any English, we became best friends. We had our own handshake and everything–so it was pretty official :) Also, the chief of the village’s daughter, Beatrice, came and hung out with us for the majority of our time there with her 9 month old son, Bryan. They spoke the language: Atesso. Yoga, in Atesso is how you would greet another person :)
We had the opportunity to do so many different things. Let me tell you, African women work so unbelievably hard, I cannot even explain how amazing they are!! They garden, clean, cook, and basically everything else. But our Papa was also a very hard working man and our host parents were some of the nicest people I have ever met. I feel so blessed that we were placed with this family and I was so sad to leave. I do not feel like I got to spend enough time with them all–but I hope, Lord willing, to go back someday and spend more time with them!!
We learned how to beat millet, grind cassava, grind g-nuts, and so many more things. I am going to miss them so very much but I am sure we will be able to stay in contact. Overall, my week was so amazing and I am just so thankful for all that I got to experience and I am thankful that I got to share the week with my friend, Emily! Then we went to Sipi Falls for a few days before going back to school where we had some awesome hikes to some beautiful waterfalls! It was a great way to end an amazing week!!
My family in Serere

Post by Becca Arnold