Back in Uganda after a wonderful Christmas season with my family. I always love bringing back quirky gifts for everyone in my family, and this year I think the hand-carved folding table, goatskin sheathed pygmy knives, and traditional African string instrument won special amusement. I was the recipient of some wonderful gifts as well, most especially some new clothes and washing supplies (as I am still completely miserable at doing my own washing!)
As I anticipated, however, it was very difficult to leave the States! We entered the dry season here in Uganda while I was gone, and the sometimes muggy, always hot weather is very different than the slick ice and light snow that I visited at home.
Still, there is work to do, and my students have grudgingly returned to their efforts. For the sake of my homesickness, I keep reminding myself that the four months to summer is a very short time, but for my graduating seniors, it is quite the reality. They have to finish polishing themselves mentally, spiritually, and academically before the time comes for them to spirit away to university in all corners of the world but here. When recently surveyed, I found out that in fact not one of my senior students intends to stay in Uganda for post-secondary education. For me, that means sorting time to finish Jane Eyre, read Macbeth, and review and discuss some classic examples of British poetry. These students will cross minds with peers from all around the world, and many will have a much more formal English background. They have to be ready to make the grade just as well as anyone else, never mind a secondary education in the third world. When looked at that way, four months isn’t very long at all!
Most of my classes are the same this term, though they are all in different time slots. My seventh graders, who were fond of bouncing off the walls before lunch, are quite amicable after. It’s like meeting a new group of kids. Some have returned slightly changed; though none have noticed the addition to my progressing tattoo sleeve, I have noticed their purple braids, new haircuts, and shiny new backpacks and sneakers sent from abroad. It is the season for change and new things. I have also taken on the eighth grade social studies class for a friend on maternity leave, and her students and I will start acting out scenes from the Odyssey with them next week as the explore the culture and beliefs of ancient Greece.
Lastly, I have given some thought to my plans for next year. As one can probably tell from this reading, being back and forth to home was hard. It wasn’t made easier by family illness, and I was shocked and pained to learn that as I was flying back to Uganda, a dear uncle passed away. Needless to say, I’m feeling a little insecure about being so far from my pack. The good news is that the universe seems to be smiling on me, and my boyfriend (born and raised on this side of the Atlantic,) may be offered the chance to work in Canada in the upcoming year. Hemisphere crossing relationships- it would be quite the adventure! He has seen me make adjustments since my move to Uganda; I would be curious about what cultural differences he would find coming to the West.
But for now I am here, and going to make the most of it. As the school term gets back underway, I'm sure there will be more stories to share!
Lots of Love,
In loving memory of my uncle, Francis Sharpless.
The sweetest man anyone could ever have hoped to meet.