Friday, 25 January 2013

Party Crasher

As a Program Assistant, I have the pleasure of visiting a few of the IMME student’s homes during the semester. This week was the week I decided to start to do home visits. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of visiting Allison’s family for tea. It was a great experience to see how she interacts with her family and to also view how comfortable she is at her home. I had a really good time there. 

Allison showing off her craft to a family friend Martin Mpooya

The next day I knew I wanted to visit Olivia’s family. I went to the IMME quarter’s room and saw Olivia there. I told her I wanted to visit her family soon. She said, “Why don’t you come today. We’re having a graduation party. We are always having parties at my house.” “Sure!” I said without even thinking. I don’t know her family that well nor do I know the people whom the party is for, but I thought to myself, “Good people and good food will be there. Why not go?”

When Olivia and I arrived at her house, the loud music indicated that the party was about to start. As we were about to take our seats the MC said that family sits on one side and friends on the other side. Olivia sat on the family side and I sat on friend side. Eventually the guests of honor arrived. The two graduates walked out along with Olivia’s mama, Margaret Ssekalongo. Mama Margaret greeted every person individually. When she got to me she looked at me and then said, “You have finally come to visit. You are welcome. Come sit next to Olivia.” It felt pretty cool to know that I could sit on the family side now.

As the ceremony went on, I could not understand what was taking place since it was all in Luganda. Luckily Olivia was there to guide me through the ceremony. She even gave me tips on how to introduce myself. She said since her family has had so many parties, she’s learned the appropriate actions for the ceremonies. I spent the afternoon viewing how graduation ceremonies are done here in Uganda. I also got to eat some great food, just in case you were wondering. I had to duck out towards the middle of speeches to get back to campus at a reasonable time, but all-in-all, I had a great experience being a party crasher. That’s the thing I love about Uganda, you are always welcomed and not considered an inconvenience.

Here are some pictures below of the evening.  

Mama Margaret greeting guest

One of Olivia's aunts greeting Olivia

The guests of honor

Mama Margaret giving a speech

Olivia and Mama Margaret

Olivia and her sister Angie
Post by Tiffany Gathers

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Mukono Home Stays

It's that time of the semester again when USP students who live on campus start to get a little bit nervous (not all, but some). They start to wonder what they have gotten themselves into with USP; they are full of questions and speculations. They knew this day would come, but so soon? You all know what I am talking about? Mukono two-week home stays have arrived!

Today, January 19th, was the start of home stays. They started bright and early at 10 am. (10 am is early right??) The students packed up their bedding, clothing, toiletries etc. and waited in front of Honors college, anxious to find out which van to get into to head for their new home.

Whatever nerves they had the day before or even today began to dissipate as as they met their new families. Here are some pictures of students meeting their families...

Rachel meeting some of her family members

Look! All smiles!

Jessi walking with Mama Edith to her new home

Amanda and Mama Ruth

Carissa gearing up to meet her family

A loving embrace between a dad and his new daughter

Kelly and Mama Odeta

Vincent helping Benita arrive at her home stay

These pictures only capture a few students experiences of meeting their family for the first time. The families were very excited to meet their new sons and daughters. As I greeted each family, the mother or father would say to me, "Thank you for bringing my daughter." Ahhh, you gotta love the openness and warmth you feel right away from Ugandan families, though they hardly know the USP students yet.

This is only the beginning, two-weeks from now many are going laugh thinking about how nervous they were today. What I know for sure is that they are going to take away from their home stay experiences, memories and relationships that will last a lifetime. 

Post by Tiffany Gathers 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Spring 2013, and we're off!

The turn around between the fall and spring semesters is pretty quick here at USP, and jumping from a group of 24 to 39 is quite a job! But our new group is on the ground, and we're off and running. Here are a few photos of our first couple of days.

Group shot (minus one) in Entebbe kicking off orientation. 

Last Saturday afternoon, we dropped off our 16 Intercultural Ministry and Missions Emphasis) IMME students at their respective semester-long home stays. Here Dave is meeting his host dad, Mr. Martin Mpooya.

Friday we went to a place called Vision For Africa, for a chance to do some final orientation sessions in a nice, off-campus setting. 

The afternoon was spent enjoying the sunshine and a lovely pool. Yes, in January! One of the many perks of being so close to the equator.

The entire group, all 39 this time:

We're looking forward to a great semester!