Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Update

Hi Everyone.

I'm really sorry for the long delay since my last post. I've traveled a good bit recently (to South Western Uganda to put on a Sex-Ed presentation and celebrate the arrival of some newly graduated PCVs, and then again to the SW for what turned into one of the most glorious Thanksgiving celebrations of my life!).

For T-day this year, 8 or 9 of us met up in Ibanda, and everyone got fantastically fat on multiple pies, stuffing balls, green-been casserole, CHEEEEESE, and god knows what else... whiskey for sure... and... oh yeah, a Turkey! By 10 in the evening, we were actually quite sick and regretting our gluttony. Looking back, it as totally worth it.

Let me just say: I hate killing things. I've done it so rarely in my life. Bugs? Yeah, daily. They are basically micro-machines. But real, warm blooded beings? Tough work, that. I did it. This year, I hung our turkey up by his feet from a tree, tied his wings back (so they wouldn't beat my face in), tore some feathers off his neck to expose the skin, grabbed a WICKED sharp Henckel knife and made the cut. It took about three seconds (everyone was very impressed by this), and if I understand the technique used on Polyface Farm in Virginia, the upside down position fills the fowl's head with blood, puts them into a comatose state and keeps the pain to a minimum.

It was definitely an experience. I shook for a while afterwards as we stripped it, gutted it and then put it into a large dutch oven we had fashioned using the large hole filled with coals.

I'll say this: The turkey was a sorry site after a night in which he was nearly eaten by a wild dog. But after several hours of slow cooking with a basting every half hour, he was beautiful brown and fully edible. He was one of the most delicious turkeys we've ever had.


The school term is OVER!!!! Well, the classes and testing is finished. Now, we are focusing on filling in report cards. I put together a digital report card system based on one that someone else had done in the PC office... mine is A LOT better. Overall, it has been one of the most ridiculously complicated experiences I've ever had using MS Office and Excel. I'll save the details of the grading systems here for another post... at least I hope to get to that at some point... for now, let me say that it's been a beast of a project. Now, with the program complete, I am trying to get the teachers to use it. I am starting small using it only for the A-level classes first as they have only 80 or so students. The goal is to slowly integrate it into the lower level classes (first in S4, then in S3, etc...) until the entire school is using the program in about a year. As of now, I've got a few teachers literally giggling with excitement over how much time can be saved with the program, and their enthusiasm is spilling over onto the other teachers. The ball is rolling! We'll see how far it goes.

My S6 students are FINISHED WITH SCHOOL!!!! That's right: Moses, Ivan, Mugisa and Suzie (and Leonard, though he transferred at the beginning of the year), are now finished with their UNEB national exams and are thus finished with their secondary education! I met them over the last few days, and they greeted me with enormous smiles on their faces, their relief obvious. Now they just wait for their results, and when those arrive they can begin applying for universities!

I am happy to report that after taking the tests for the classes I taught, they came out smiling and saying, "It wasn't so bad! We did well Mastah!" I'm Happy. Relieved. Thrilled really. Sure, I don't know the scores, but if their attitudes towards the tests are any indication of their scores, they did quite well! (On the flip side, everyone that came out of the tests for the papers I did NOT teach had only "It was VERY hard" to say about it). We'll know the results in February. Until then, my fingers are crossed.

The school term ends officially on Friday, so that gives us tomorrow to finish the report cards. We've got a meeting at 1 and a staff party that should be a great finish. We'll likely all get together at a local hotel, grab a beer and eat some fried goat. Unfortunately, this lines up with a visit by the US Ambassador to Uganda. He'll be in a neighboring village with my Country Director and a few PCVs. It was requested that all in the area attend, but frankly, as busy as we are here, I just can't make it... further, even if I could I think I'd rather pause to celebrate an interesting year with the staff than sit around discussing the ups and downs of development with bureaucrats.

Up next:

As always, I am racked by a guilty conscience over not posting enough (stupid Catholic baptism at birth!). I've actually had a picture post ready since October, but I've put it off and put it off. Well, no longer. I'll post it tomorrow for you. So check back.

For the holidays, I am leaving the country! Yep. December 5th starts my Capetown to Cairo over-land adventure! I'm flying down with 3 friends to Jo-burg, and we'll then follow hit the following places:

Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia (bungee jumping at Vic Falls... naked, if at all possible), Namibia (dune buggying in the Namib Desert), South Africa (again) (Capetown, Roben Island, Beaches, Table Mountain), Lesotho (horseback riding, hiking), South Africa (again), Swaziland (chillin), Mozambique(getting SCUBA certified), Malawi (Scuba and Snorkel in Lake Malawi), Tanzania, Zanzibar, Tanzania and then we'll finally return to Uganda!

The only girl on the trip, Natalie, is hopping off in Capetown and heading to Zanzibar for Christmas, but just as she leaves, we're all meeting up with none other than MR. DAVID FICKE!! Mr. Ficke will accompany us for the remainder of the journey, and he'll be stopping in Uganda to see my site, live with me for a spell, help out at my school and then explore the land. Yes. Uganda is about to become a happier place.

That's as far into the future as I care to look... I leave this Monday, and I get screaming excited thinking about it. We'll have video and cameras to document everything, and I hope to drop updates here and there at various internet cafe's throughout the country, so stay tuned.

That about gets you up to speed. Sorry for a total lack of pictures in this post, but again, check back tomorrow and you won't be let down.

Thanks for checking in.

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