My First Week in Uganda

Osiibye otya!

I have officially been in Uganda for over a week now.  It was definitely a week of ups and downs.

I had a very hard time adjusting to life in Uganda, due to two reasons.  First, “African Time” has been a difficult concept for me to grasp.  It was hard having extended periods of time where I just wasn’t doing anything.  Second, I couldn’t really talk to anyone.  Most people speak a bit of English, but everyone normally speaks Luganda.  To learn Luganda, I sit down with my host mom and ask her to teach me how to say different things.  I have a long way to go, but I can greet everyone perfectly.  This helped with adjusting to African time, as I now spend a lot of time practicing.  I also fill my free time with playing with the village children, preparing my biology lessons, and talking to the students I teach.  They love asking me questions such as, “Do you know Arnold Schwarzenegger?”, “What were America’s mistakes in Vietnam?”, and “Did you know the American government captured an alien and is studying it?”  As the only white person within miles, everyone stares at me.  The kids get so excited, jump up and yell “Mzungu!” and wave.  If I am walking through the village, they run up to me and walk with me.  My favorite things is walking home from school with 3 kids holding onto each of my hands and another on each wrist.  Adults will usually stare at me, until I greet them in Luganda.  Their eyes light up and they smile and greet me back.  From then on, they greet me whenever I pass by and laugh as I answer in Luganda.  I eat plenty of food, as Cornelius, the reverend who runs my organization (ARCOS), loves to eat as much as I do.  He is a great man, and the work he is doing is commendable, to say the least.  I have no running water or electricity at my home, but I have camped with fewer amenities.  I actually enjoy the bucket showers, as I take them at night under the moon and many stars.  I spent the first half of this week preparing my biology lessons, and started teaching Thursday.  The kids are very bright and work hard.  I have also been preparing my health education presentations, and will hopefully begin that next week.  On Saturday, I went to the 10th anniversary celebration for the coronation of the lesser king of Buganda (the 2nd most important king in Uganda).  The guest of honor was the President of Uganda, Museveni.  As Cornelius is a religious leader, I got to sit in the VIP section.  It was actually pretty impressive to be sitting 20 feet away as a world leader gave a speech.  Afterwards, I got to meet the kamuswaga (the king).  He was shaking hands with many people and simply saying “thank you,” but when I greeted him in Luganda, he asked my name.  I answered “Ryan Lewis.”  He said, “Do you have a name here?”  I said, “Kateregga.”  This is Cornelius’s clan name, of the royal clan.  It means “one who stands for others,” which is something I strive for.  He then welcomed me to Uganda, and I felt more than welcomed.  (The Prime Minister of Tourism also gave me a hug and laughed when I greeted her in Luganda).  I really don’t know how to sum up a week in a completely new culture in one week, so I know I’m missing a lot.  That’s all for now, but I’ll try to post again next week.  Weeraba!

Oh, and next weekend I’m supposed to ride an ostrich so yeah I guess things are going pretty well.


3 thoughts on “My First Week in Uganda

  1. Hey Ryan! Sounds like you are having a really great time and adjusting well. I’m really pleased that your organization has been so inviting and welcoming. And very impressive that you’ve met with the President in your first week! Way to go, Mzungu!

  2. Hey Ryan, I am a friend of your Mom’s from Bishop Moore High School. I have also done a mission trip high in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. It is an amazing experience and you will never be the same after having had the experience. I love reading your journal entries. Your stories of walking with the village children, playing games, and just being present to them take me right back to the mountains of Las Lomas. Thanks for doing what you are doing, and for sharing your experiences with others! Looking forward to reading more soon!
    Margie McNamara Brannon

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