Today has been a good day. A lot has happened in the past months leading to today being a good day – let me catch up with that first.
I’ve had four very welcome visitors from the States since last April. (Five if you count getting a new computer, which, of course, I don’t count. But others might count it.) I sure do feel loved these days.
Selina came to visit in April. J That was a lot of fun. I also got to show her off to my Ugandan friends here and fellow PCVs. And, seeing as my kids (or at least my neighbors’ kids who show up at my doorstep throughout the week) had been asking to meet my madam, they were also very happy to meet her. Selina also had a good time, I am told (from her). She even had a chance to tie my headteacher’s baby on her back Ugandan-style. It was nice for her to be able to see how I live and to get a sense of how “out in the village” I am. And I really am out there. And I also thoroughly impressed her with my engineering skills. Feel free to bug her for more details.
My engineering buddy, Mike Shi AKA Shibot, was my next visitor. He was introducing himself as Shibot (She-bot) but, seeing as “Robert” is pronounced “Robot” here, many people thought his name was Shebert. When Robot went me a letter to send my greetings to Shebert, it made me crave some Sherbert. If anyone can think of an easy way to send me some Sherbert then the joke will be complete (or at least completely overused).
And then came April. At with it came the two people who were largely, if not solely, responsible for my existence: my parents. We had planned to see as much as we could during our short week in Uganda and by golly I think we did a good job. Things really could not have worked out much better: From doing a three day Safari to arranging private transportation (ask me about public transit if you want to hear about how fun it can be), everything came together flawlessly. My parents were quite thrilled (and my mom was impressed with how clean/well organized my house was (THANKS SELINA! YOU ARE MY FAVORITE!) AND with how well I planned everything). My dad even had a good time hanging out with the chimps on our safari.
Then we went to South Africa. Wow-wee. Fun stuff! We did another three day safari but this time at one of the best game parks south of the equator: Kruger National Park. We saw quite a bit there: hippo, zebras, giraffe, and the like. I even managed to spot all of the Big Five: elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions and rhino. (Though this was my fifth safari, I had never seen leopards or lions here in the Pearl of Africa – and rhinos are extinct in the wild in this country.)
While in ZA, we stayed in the mountains of Drakensberg for a week and then spent a couple days in Cape Town. Drakensberg was fun and a very relaxing interlude between Cape Town and how busy we were in Uganda. We went horseback riding, did a noteworthy zipline, saw the world’s second best boys choir, and saw some cave paintings dating back a thousand years or so. Also, we played a lot of banana grams and Pinochle.
Cape Town is beautiful. Sheer cliffs and mountains cover the coast around the tip of the continent where the two oceans meet. The Cape of Good Hope (AKA Cape Point) was some breathtaking views. Literally. I didn’t realize how close to the edge I was as I climbed up it and then, all of the sudden, I found myself looking over. There was a short wall there indicating the edge of the walkway but…the suddenness and severity of the drop took me aback and I must have nudged someone behind me as I tried to regain my sense of balance. We saw some whales from the shore and a nice little penguin colony and ate some good food. It was also pretty neat seeing the place where Nelson Mandella gave his speech after being released from prison after 27 years. (It helped that I had just read his autobiography, “The Long Walk to Freedom,” which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to hear more about the incredible life he lived.)
My favorite part about their visit, though, was just hanging out with my parents. Also, I have never seen my mom laugh as hard as she did in my whole life. Quality time with my parents in Africa: A+.
But by now you may be forgetting that I am a Peace Corps Volunteer here and that I am supposed to be working or something. Well, let me tell you. The Ministry of Education brought computers to my school! I did not expect to see them while I was still around but here they are (I am even writing this blog on one of them right now). We have 11 new Asus EeePCs that all run on solar. All of it was setup together though we don’t have internet yet. This term I have been keeping quite busy teaching computers. I am focusing on teaching the teachers so that the knowledge can still be passed on to the students after I am gone (although I am co-teaching ALL of the students so that they know the basics and am showing them how to use resources such as Microsoft Encarta and a teach-yourself computers program that was made by another PCV somewhere).
I can’t believe the progress that people are making. It seems that most of the students and all of the teachers are starting to understand my computer lingo now! Phrases like start menu, double click, scroll, maximize, close and the like are becoming second nature! So, people are getting the basics. I’m also seeing that many of the school documents are being typed up on the computers now, which means they can easily save and organize their documents, spell check, make copies and even, perhaps soon, start making there exams on the computers.
Today I have another lesson with just the teachers. I am going to be teaching them about making documents using Word. There are two teachers in particular who I am focusing my training on. One of them I even walked him through the steps of taking out a harddrive from an older desktop computer. As we worked, I pointed out different parts on the motherboard and explained there function. And he was actually picking up what I was saying! I am trying to approach computers in small bits so that as people get more used to what they know I can teach them more or, more importantly, they can teach themselves or each other.
My lesson this morning co-teaching the S1 students went well. I can’t wait to see where all of the students and teachers are at by the end of the term! It is nice to finally have my passions and my strengths lining up better with the work that I’m doing! This concludes my writing about today being a good day. Thank you, please.