Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hot off the press! Riots at Kyenjojo, S.S.

Gun shots ring out as I write this.

It appears that a student was expelled, and he did not take it well. He began fighting the teacher, other students joined in and within a few minutes police were called.

A riot ensued.

While things escalated, I tried to keep my students focused. Often, you can hear cheers and laughter from various classrooms around school. This was the first time I witnessed violence.

I am in class with the kids with the door locked. The rocks that begin raining down on the sheet-metal roofs mimic the AK-47 reports that have only just subsided. The sound of glass shattering fills the campus.

My students are livid.

"Why were the police called?!"

"Guns cannot solve these problems!"

I try to explain the situation... how the police felt they needed to exert their power by pulling the trigger; that in their mind, the fear caused by the discharge of the gun equated to control. After just a taste, they were hungry for more… RAT!...RATA-TAT!...RATA-TATA-TAT!!

"Did you see?!" one exclaims, "At first, they were shooting high into the air, but later they were aiming closer to the ground! They could have hit a student!"

Ironic that I have been teaching my students about projectiles. Rocks and bullets, baby! I take the opportunity to discuss the real world example we were witnessing. We briefly cover what a bullet fired into the sky does to the unlucky person it hits while descending. What goes up must come down… in this case deadly fast.

I decide to make a dash between buildings to be closer to the teachers. I would be lying if the image of me being torn apart by an angry throng of students didn't cross my mind.

I'm sitting in the teachers’ lounge. My ears are ringing; more rocks on the roof. I had alerted Mary, my boss, about the riot, and she made contact with the Peace Corps Security Director. She calls me back to say that he has contacted the police... the same individuals that blew things out of proportion to begin with.

Shots ring out again; this time in the distance but still not far enough for comfort. For the teachers, this is the juiciest event to hit Kyenjojo, possibly ever. Exasperated, they keep telling the story.

"There was a boy, and the teacher said, 'YOU GET OUT!', but the boy refused! He said to the teacher, 'I won't leave until you give me my money!' "

“These students! They come from families where no morals are taught!”

No. I think. These students are pissed off! They are sick of the beatings, the horrendous food and shitty teachers and administrators. Prison riots start for the same reason.

An hour has now passed since everything began. Crowds, gathered outside the school’s gates, can be heard. My security director calls to let me know that things have calmed down. Thank you Fred, I think, standing at ground zero. He assures me that there are plain clothes police officers being deployed in the town, and they will arrest anyone who harasses me. Plain clothes, eh? What about the huge guns they are toting?

And school for the remainder of the week? “CANCELED until further notice.”

I’m just fine. I'm headed home. I've felt surprisingly calm through the event; just mildly sick. Hunger mixed with the beginnings of PTSD, I'm guessing.

I kid, I kid!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Dearest Family, Friends and Michelle,

Don't let the date of the post fool you. I uploaded these photos two weeks ago while in Fort Portal visiting friends (the internet is USA-fast).

I think a few of you have received general descriptions of the area in which I live, Kyenjojo. I may have even told you a bit about my house itself. Certainly, I have mentioned the screaming, spoiled rotten beasts that my neighbor calls "children." HA! Children. More like. Poo/Pee covered Minions sent by the dark lord himself to wreck havoc upon myself. Apparently, I really screwed someone important over in a previous life.

Before the pictures, let me say, things are going quite well. Since my last post about my slacker kids, I've changed a few things in the classroom. (1.) Late arrivals are required to spend 3 minutes for every minute they arrive late to class. (2.) Ready? Set! DAILY QUIZZES! Since putting these two policies into action, smirking late arrivals to my class have dropped to, get this, ZERO!! And as for the quizzes, they are keeping the kids on their toes. The girl I spoke of in my last class is making marked improvements, and I feel like I have really cemented some key concepts that are fundamental to the progression of the class into more advanced material. So I am feeling good. Still, I feel a bit lost as to how fast I should proceed. I guess I'll let the quizzes dictate... when the average on the new stuff is, what do you think, 40? 50? 60? I can more forward.

Let me say, I'm seeing quizzes from a COMPLETELY new angle. As a student, I despised them! They were nothing but life-drains that threw me into crazed, forget-the-world study sessions with my trusted group member "type-A OCD" looking over my shoulder. Now, however, I see them as incredible tools to see the inner-workings of my students minds, and they allow me to address flaws that I literally, even with great effort could not make up.

What else has been going on around me and in my head? A few bullet points:

*More and more people know my Empaako (Amooti), and greet me in Rutooro instead of the high-pitched and nazely "Mujungu Voice" (Think: BOSTON with a speech impediment) as I walk through town. I take this as a great personal success, one that I take great pride in. It feels like my community has more than recognized my desire to find my place in their ranks; they have accepted me.

*A man that I work with has really revealed himself as a slime-ball. Last weekend, he approached me and says, "I am very strapped for cash. I was wondering if you would let me tell the administration that we are going on a trip for school? We don't actually have to go. I just need them to give money." I looked at him with a borderline incredulous look: REALLY?!?!?! and said, "Well, and please, I don't want to offend you or make you angry, but... to me that sounds a lot like stealing... and I'd rather avoid that if you don't mind." He didn't mind in the least, and we shook hands and parted. And now, I have to go to the administration and assure them that I will always ask for permission for teachers to accompany me on any trip just to be sure no one is trying that exploit.

*A few of my PCV friends were kicking an email back and fourth about who was eating more banana's/pineapples's, etc... per day. I didn't contribute. But I when mentioned my main protein staple last weekend, jaws dropped. Is 6 eggs a day really that ridiculous?

*OH! I played in a staff versus students soccer game last weekend! What a blast! The staff have some purple and gold uniforms, and I was tossed one a few minutes before the game... I was late, and I had to sprint home to get shoes and change. When I returned, suited up, 1200 kids were packed around the soccer pitch, and at my arrival cheers broke out among everyone I ran by. I stuck out my tongue, Jordan style, and threw a goofy face their way that amplified things. As I made my way around the field, I was greeted with louder cheers and high fives from my fellow teachers. I do believe I was beaming. The game, well, it was a shit-show that ended in a tie. I stubbed a toe and now lack a toenail, but for those few minutes before and after the game: a nail was a small price to pay.

*When I was in a market in Kampala a few weeks back, a man kept badgering me to give him money. He kept poking at my pocket where the outline of my wallet was apparently enticing him into being a jackass. He finally stopped, and a few minutes later I was explaining how rude it was to the woman sitting near by when I said, how would you feel if I walked up to you and said, "Mpa siringi bitaano (give to me 500 shillings)!!" To this she did not reply. She just reached into her pocket, pulled out a 500 piece and put it into my outstretched hand.

I can't really think of any more right now. I'm a bit tired and hazy. So, with this, I leave you with some pictures!

My town from a nearby hill top. I realized that aside from my trips to the market on Mondays, the occasional viewing of a world cup match at the hotel or randomly passing through on the way back from a village walk, I avoid the main town area. I had originally been pretty upset about the UN-rural'ness of my placement. Then I found out that, well, if you cock your head and look at it just right, it does sorta resemble the middle of nowhere! So, with effort, I'm recognizing the best of both worlds.

I edited this picture and threw a nice red circle around my compound (dead center in the picture). This is probably so against security policy... then again, if if you walked up to just about anyone in town and asked where I lived, they could probably give you directions to my doorstep.

The front of the apartments that I live in. I am the farthest doorway to the left. The girl standing in the middle is, dare I say it, yes, an imbecile. One of her favorite activities is to take a jerry can, put it under the rain-water tank, turn on the tap and walk away for half an hour. When she returns, she giggles as she realizes her error. And 60 or so liters of wasted water is sucked up thirstily by earth and sky.

The rain tank. The women on the property can burn through 3000 liters in about 2 weeks even when there is no rain and they should be cutting down on the usage. Complete disregard for conservation. I probably use between 60 and 80 liters a week total for drink, food prep and bathing.


My storage closet. I put dirty dishes in here, and I store boxes and lumber for my various projects around the house. Ngonza kubaija! (I like to do carpentry)

My kitchen. I brought a backpacking stove to Uganda. I didn't have a CLUE that I would be cooking on a fully controllable gas range. Very nice.

My tool corner. I've been picking up pieces here and there. I bought a drill bit this Saturday, the final piece needed to finish my counter project. I've grown tired of cutting veggies on the floor, so I rigged up a counter space that serves as a dish/vegetable washing area. The tools paid for themselves in the money I saved by not hiring a carpenter.

Drying lines for then it rains. I'm too cheap to buy a couch, so - HAMMOCK!

The right side of my room. That's right. I have a killer laser printer in Uganda. It saved me several hours a week and lets me print out notes, example problems and lesson plans. It is probably the best investment I have made here yet. Judge away!

My disgusting bathroom. There is no excuse for this. I cleaned last weekend, so it is looking a lot better.

My pop-up closet and book-covered desk.

The bed protected from flying malaria darts.

Looking out of my room towards the kitchen/living room.

A bit-o-love from the states. I've received two cards since being here: A post card from kelly and a birthday card from my grandpa, but I hear I have a package and a few letters waiting for me at the PC headquarters! You can send me letters/packages to Devon Murphy, PO Box 262, Fort Portal, Uganda. Wrap everything in pictures of Jesus, and it might get through.

The screaming hallway. Kids, maids, parents. They scream here whenever they can... just to let me know that I am not alone in this world.

The backside of my apartment... and hey! There he is... the Devil himself, just seconds before bursting out into outrageous, ear drum shattering shrieks.

The daily wash. A small church was recently put up behind the tree in the background. In a recent fund-raising attempt, I was kept awake for 4 nights by blaring music that was played from dusk until dawn, 3 songs on repeat... Uganda is a noisy place.

You can see the rectangle of my garden. I dug it all out, but the rainy season was over, so I let it mulch a bit and grow over. I'll turn it and plant in time for the next season that comes through.

The hill from which I took the pictures of my house and town shown earlier.


A "Devon" figurine a fellow PCV carved and gave me on my 27th birthday.

A goat. I have a strange fascination with goats. I really enjoy their faces.

A boy tending to his flock.


Fly - free bird.


Before I close, I'll let you with short dialogue I had with a lady on the street. Full grown lady. Not girl. Most of you have probably already seen this on Facebook, but I wanted to include it for anyone that may have missed it. Another priceless moment.

Lady on the street: "Are you Jesus' brother?"

Me: "No."

Lady: "Are you sure? Because you look like him."

Me: "Yes. I am sure."

Lady: "Because Jesus was a teacher. And I hear you are a teacher."

Me: "Yes. I am a teacher. But I am not related to Jesus."

Lady: " Well, I don't know how you can be so sure."

Me: "Just ask my friends. They'll tell you the truth."

I hope you enjoyed the stories, thoughts and pictures. Take care, and I will post again soon.

I love you all. (But especially you Michelle!)


Thursday, June 17, 2010

My constant battle

Well, the results are in: Half the students in my S5 math class do not know how to graph the equation y(x) = “constant” (i.e. y(x) = 4, y(x) = 8, y(x) = 12). Thirteen took the test on Monday, and six got a big-fat-zero on that particular problem. Damn.

But, in their defense, it is a strange equation. I mean, y(x) = 4? “y” is apparently a function of “x”, but where the hell is the “x”. I can hear their thought process: “Well, when y(x) = x+1, and Mr. Murphy asks for y(1), I just replace the x’s in the equation with 1… so y(1) = (1) + 1… but he gave me y(x) = 4… THERE ARE NO x’s TO REPLACE!! I HATE MR. MURPHY!!”

Here’s the rub (for you geeks that care but don’t already know)… the graph of y(x) = “constant” is nothing but a flat straight line that crosses the y-axis at a height of whatever constant value has been defined (if y = 4, it crosses the y-axis at 4). The slope of this flat line, m, is equal to zero. Therefore, given the equation of a line, y(x) = mx + q (where q is the y-intercept), the equation of my line, using the aforementioned y-intercept of 4, becomes: y(x) = 0*x + 4… which reduces to y(x) = 4, or generally as y(x) = “constant”.

The test… I was damn proud of it… to avoid the mastermind cheating that these kids are capable of, I assembled three different tests, sat them three to a table, and watched in amazement as a few still took long rest breaks by staring at their neighbors paper (or in one case one boy whispered the answer to a brutally hard multiplication problem, 8*7, to his buddy… “56” I hear as I approach, and “56” is quickly written…). I broke every problem down into pieces (a), (b), (c), etc… so instead of overwhelming them with one big question, they worked through each piece in a logical order. Furthermore, I had given a test review covering examples of every single problem in detail that I would cover (this was in addition to a set of notes with three more examples of every type of problem I would offer). Geez. Listen to me bitch and moan.

Test average: 42%


So I did what any teacher does when the average isn’t what was expected: I played with the numbers to see what was dragging it down.

Just as I thought… it was all those failing students.

While grading the tests, I realized that I was dealing with two groups of students; the kids who try, and the kids who don’t. Those who try, about half the class, attempt the homework, they come to recitation two times a week, and they ask questions. The kids who don’t try, well, they do the opposite.

The proof is in the numbers: The kids that failed (which by Ugandan Ministry of Education standards means they scored lower than a 35%, did so gloriously. Their scores are as follows: (0%, 2.1%, 4.2%, 12.5%, 21%, 24%). These kids don’t know a math function from a school function, and they had never “Excused My Dear Aunt Sally” even when asked “Please” (is this reference lost on anyone?... it represents the “Order of Operations”). In short, they lack even the fundamental concepts necessary to enter a math class where Calculus is being taught, and worse, they haven’t tried to correct these shortcomings in ANY way even though I have been extending them a hand for weeks now.

Back to it… When I removed those ghastly numbers from the pool, my average sky-rocketed to a, sad-by-American-standards but 1.2 points shy of a D2 distinction (that is, the second highest grade achievable in Uganda!), 68.8%.

So there it is: When I do my job and the students do theirs, the class average approaches an American “C”. That, I can deal with.

I had my second math class of the week today, and I had one of those “teacher moments”, one that makes you feel proud for what you are doing. You see some light at the end of the tunnel and that you are making a difference… I called the student that had scored a 2.1% to the board and asked her to find g(f(x)) when f(x) = 4 and g(x) = 2x + 2.

Before touching the chalk to the board, she turns around and says to me, “Master, I have failed you.”

“No. That’s not going to work this time. Write g(x).”


“Ok, now write g(1).”


“Remember, when I say g(1), it means you replace all the x’s in g(x) with a 1.”

g(1) = 2(1) + 2 = 4

“Now, write g(2).”

g(2) = 2(2) + 2 = 4

“Now write g(f(x)).”

To this she replies, “Master, I have failed.”

“No, you’re doing fine. Give me g(4).” I am trying to convey that regardless of what I put in to the parentheses next to g() I put THAT wherever there was an x. I’ve tried with problems, notes, speaking, everything I can think of, and I’m not getting anywhere. She needs to keep doing the problem until she sees the pattern.

We go through this with more numbers until finally, I say, “now write g(f)."

Reluctantly, she writes: g(f) = 2(f) + 2. And then quickly erases her work. With some goading, I get her to put it back on the board.

“Good! Now, write for me g(f(x)).”

The class and I sit there in silence. She traces over the 10 or so problems she has worked so far. Finally, she slowly writes:

g(f(x)) = 2(f(x)) + 2 = 2(4) + 2 = 10

I begin to clap for her. The class joins in. She goes to sit, her face an open book: I CAN LEARN THIS!

The period passes, and towards the end we find ourselves working through another problem missed with high frequency. h(x) = -x^2 + 10x. It is a simple enough parabolic curve, but if you don’t know your order of operations (you have to square whatever you put into x FIRST and THEN multiply by -1), you get extremely high numbers when you try to plot. I ask the class for a volunteer to plot the equation of the range [0, 5]. No one volunteers.

Just as I am about to call a random person, she raises her hand. 2.1% is, for the first time, asking to go to that board and try something that has stumped the entire class. I am thrilled.

“Of course! Come on up!”

She comes up, draws the table, and without hesitation cranks out every single answer in flawless form.

I begin to clap for her… the class joins in. I’m wearing a shit-eating grin as I return to the board. I say all that comes to mind, “that was brilliant work. This is my proudest moment as a teacher here in Uganda.”

There is work to be done, a lot of it. For the few that did poorly on the first test and decide they need help, seek it, and start trying, I think there is hope. For the few that think that the knowledge will come just by watching me write problems on the board, there will be trouble. And for those that have been working hard both in class and out, I see them blowing away the Ugandan standard. My goal for them is to pass the national tests next year with score that even an American student’s parents would be proud to display on the fridge.

Thanks for reading.

I love you all (but especially you, Michelle!)


P.S. If you want to give my test a go, download it here:,%20Secants,%20Derivitives%2014-6-2010.pdf

Saturday, June 12, 2010

500 Words or Less

Dear Family, Friends and Michelle,

Webaleyo! ("Welcome back!"... to this you answer "Ndugireyo!" ["I am back from there!"])

At the beginning of May, I was asked to write a column for the Peace Corps Uganda Newsletter. "Me Time" is a section where volunteers share stories and photographs from the field, so the content was up to me. The only stipulation was that the piece had to come in at 500 words or less. Well, I wrote it up, obsessed over the grammar for a week and finally submitted what I felt was that elusive perfect essay (Kel knows what I am talking about). A couple weeks later, I received the PDF newsletter in the email and excitedly I scrolled to my page... and there it was.

"Me Time" By: Devon Patrick Murphy, CHED

My O.C.D. sirens started to blare. CHED?? (Community Health and Economic Development) I'm education, bitches!

Hwhatever! I got over it.

I figured you all ("y'all!" Oh, it feels so good to say that!) would like to read it.

So, without further ado...

"Me Time"

By: Devon Patrick Murphy, **EDUCATION**

"I’m a big guy: six-foot-three and 200 lbs on the average day. I’ve got big bones and a big head (though I’m told it’s proportional). In Uganda, kids under age five will observe me from a distance and sprint away at my approach. I’ve been harassed by only the drunkest of adults, and I’ve been called both intense and intimidating amongst other things. All of this has given rise to a certain confidence, a confidence which accounts for my confusion at this moment… because I’m being jumped.

I’d just made my way back into Kyenjojo, after one of my long meandering walks through the villages, my mouth dry and stomach screaming for dinner. The sun was quickly setting, and I was in one of those I will give anything to avoid cooking tonight-moods. So I stopped at my favorite chapatti stand…

“They are over,” says the man as I approach.

Dejected but not down for the count, I ask, “you are making more?”

“Yes. You sit.” He indicates the opposite side of the stand. Success!

My eyes catch the sky; it is a forest fire. Horizontal slashes of blazing red and orange are descending upon the Rwenzoris. The alien cloud in the center of it all, thick with rain and muddy yellow, provides a dimming lantern glow around us. Awed, I move to sit. My guard is down for the attack.

She is three - four tops - and no taller than my waste. Pretty all in pink, her sweater is stretched and worn backwards, and her dress stops just above her tiny bare feet. She has fully wrapped herself in my arms before I am seated.

Shocked I say, “Hi!You’renotshyatALL!” which comes out sounding like one word.

I try a bit of Rutooro. Giggling, she buries her face in the soft crook of my arm. The laughter that breaks out among the three of us is spontaneous and fills me. I have forgotten my thirst. My hunger is gone. I want nothing more in this moment.

The sky cools as the sun drops further into the Congo. Blues, silvers and grays appear. My new friend and I play a game of, What have you got in this hand?… ok, what have you got in THIS hand?... I could swear you had SOMETHING in at least ONE of your hands!! She returns her face into my arm and hums happily. My dinner sizzles a few feet away…

As dictated by relativity, it is the quintessential moments that pass the fastest, and this was no exception. By the time I was handed my bag of delicious oily goodness, Akiiki had been called back to her grandmother’s shop and the sky had succumbed to the steady advance of night.

Walking home, I contrasted my infinite morning of missing my life of three months ago with what I had just experienced. It’s harder to let loneliness get the best of you when moments like these are just around the corner. True story."

Thanks for reading!

I love you all! (But especially you Michelle!)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pictures. Really!

Well Hello!

Back so soon? Yes. Yes you are. Why? For starters, I told you to come here on my Facebook page... And second, you love me. But why the second post so soon (after all, it took me a month to get around to posting this last update)? Well, (a.) I am in Kampala, and the internet is BLAZING fast here, so it is the perfect time to get the pictures up. And (b.) I was reading another PCVs blog, and I was inspired. I feel like I've let a few people down by not including more pics and more updates about my weekly activities. Granted, interesting things don't happen every day. But what I am realizing is that *WHAT* I consider interesting is changing. As I stated in the last post, the *newness* is wearing off, and that is disturbing. I don't want to become complacent. I want to remain the excited puppy, ripping around, checking things out, peeing on new trees. So, less journal, more blog. Cool? Cool.

PICTURES!!! Hope you like 'em.

Bikes aren't just for riding in Uganda. You see guys pushing around thousands of pounds of metal sheeting, hundreds of chickens, 10 jerry cans of water... or in this case a bunch of furniture.

Yes, there are bugs more terrifying than spiders...These are called Scrickets (spider + cricket... credit: Lizzie).

At a school in Gayaza. That's a whole lot of eyes on the muzungu. The girl in the middle of it all is haunting...

This is Nakasero Market in Kampala. The market actually extends back under some roofing to the left of this parking lot, and it is probably the best most beautiful farmers market I have ever been to. I just fully explored it all yesterday, and you can buy EVERYTHING there. Everyone kept offering to sell me Vanilla, which left me stumped until my friend Renee pointed out that vanilla was the priciest item sold at there. Wiley farmers.

Our language group developed a good method of dealing with the One-Too-Many Devon's. This was a sign up for MOCK LPI's (Language Proficiency Interviews) which we all failed even though we all walked out with shit-eating grins feeling confident. Turns out not a single PCT passed a mock. Their failing us was their way of MOTIVATING. Fantastic. At the actual LPIs our group DESTROYED the test with two of us (including yours truly) passing a level higher than the necessary Intermediate-Low. We were the only language group with a 100% passing rate.

During the construction of a Rocket Stove at Joe's house we had to mix saw-dust into clay to make it a better insulator. A dance party ensued. I love this picture.

PCTs after a mud wrestling match.

The finished rocket stove. I hear they are about 60+% more efficient than normal stoves, and, when made properly you can boil two pots of water with the same raging flame.

Fun with leaves.

Ugandan Lightening. Colorful.

Sunrise. Breathtaking.

A few of us walked by these kids on our way to dinner. I hear "tssssssssssss... tssssssss... tsss!" Stopping, I looked over and sure enough, they were spray-painting "God is Gud" on the wall. They began to dance and celebrate as we looked on in wonder.

Seeing this, I was taken back to a moment when Fey kept trying to buy two Carlos Rossi bottles of wine instead of one Concha y Torro bottle (because it was a better deal: 2 for $8 or 1 for $8). Well, Fey, in Uganda, you're better off drinking plastic-bag gin than pay 27 dollars for the wine.

Our trainers after white elephant. Shirley (in charge of the entire PCT program) laughed for 2 hours after the event. She couldn't get over the whole "stealing" from others part of the gifting process.

My language group and I singing "The 10 Weeks of Homestay" (to the tune of 12 days of Christmas) at the homestay thank you. The final lines, translated from the Rutooro we had to sing it in are as follows:

By the very end of homestay, I had received
Two thumbs up for style,
A fair price for pineapple,
Mud-covered legs,
Eighty power outages,
Flu and rabies shots,
Frightening mefloquine dreams,
Tons of dirty laundry,
Broken mountain bike,
"How are you, muzungu?!"
And matooke, matooke, MATOOOOOKKEEEEE.

Discussing cross-culture at the thank-you. This is us pretending to ride in a taxi. (In reality, there would have been a few more people stacked on).

Me with my little brother. This is one of my favorite pictures of PC yet.

MK the harpest. Girl has skills. But I think Sniper could take her.

Traditional dancing straight out of the north. In this picture, Cowboy Dave and his sister.

More dancing.

Me with my family (sans sisters) and Shirley and Jolie.

Me with my friend Rebecca. She sells construction supplies at the bottom of Kisimbiri, and became one of my favorite people in the Wakiso area.

My sister, Esther, decided that she was going with me to Kyenjojo on my last day home.

The enemy. From what I hear, PCVs have more trouble with these little bastards than any other pest.

The girls at the ambassadors house before swearing in.

The fella's.

The ambassador.

Me and Charlene representing VA!! She lives about 8 miles from my dad's house in Roanoke. When I left Roanoke for staging, she was in line just in front of me. Nervous and a bit sad, buzzing with nerves, it was her face and the word, "Devon?!" that made PC real... here in Uganda, she is basically my sister. Oddly, we have about 8 or 10 mutual friends back in Roanoke. This world is eerily small.


YEAH PEACE CORPS!! I am perfectly blocked (all but my right hand) by Grace (tall girl, second from left). This was during the final swear in when we took "the oath":

"I, Devon Murphy, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Just dropped off by this taxi as it heads on to Fort Portal with Devon and Chris. Bye bye training. Hello real world Uganda. The 4 hour trip from Kampala took about 8 hours because the people driving forgot their bosses daughter in Kampala (the point of driving down there in the first place), so to keep from losing the money they had charged us (the gas was actually free, paid for by the school), we had to wait in a town an hour out of Kampala until the girls bus arrived. And then we almost left two more people behind. Cluster.

The fact that I posted this just goes to show you that at the age of 27, I have acquired the maturity level of a 7 year old. Or a terrible 2.

(Peanut Butter. Duh.)

Beautiful rolling tea fields around Kyenjojo. You haven't seen green until you've seen tea and mango leaves.

Learning to weave baskets!

Sunset over the Rwenzoris. Gorgeous.

Passion Fruit Flower? Or Tree Jelly Fish?


Afternoon sun from my quiet spot.

Went to the Minister of Finance's Daughter's "Introduction". Big money. Big fun (not really). Too much time spent there. It was almost a 12 hour day. Thank god I had the Power of One to read. In this scene, there had been about 30 minutes in which different groups of woman came out dancing. In each group, the groom was supposed to determine if his wife was in it (it was playful). In the final group, he went through, scrutinizing each girl, and finally he stopped in front of his bride, tapped her, and they embraced for the first time in the ceremony. It was touching. The cool thing about these ceremonies is that the groom does not speak the entire time. Instead, his family sits on one side, and he has his best friend (chosen for his speaking abilities presumably) deal with the brides father (who in this case was one of the top lawyers in Uganda... I did NOT envy him for his job). Over the course of the day, the grooms family pays the bride price, converses with the other family, eats, dances, etc... it was worth seeing.

THIS is Peace Corps. Same pic. Flip it. Desaturate it. Sew them together. Bright, warm. Black/white Drab. It's the "ups" and it's the "downs." And when you put it all together, it's a beautiful view... sunrise on the horizon. The beginning of a truly unique day.

I'm sitting now in a surprisingly nice hotel (and cheap!) in KLA. A few more of "my kind" walked up to say hi, so I'm headed with them to grab a beer, shoot the shit, and then, I've got to get on the bus and head home. Class tomorrow. MATH!

I love you all (Especially you, Michelle!)