Global Outreach

Slowly finding the comfort zone

Posted by Van Le on Apr 24, 2013 9:31:00 AM

Sometimes, I realize that I don’t give much thought to boarding schools. I spent my whole life in public education, so there was no reason to ever ponder about the life of boarding school children. So many things make a lot of sense, but yet are totally new to my worldview. For example, it makes perfect sense that boarding school teachers live on the school compound and that they might bring their family and children to live with them. It was seriously mind-blowing to me when I found out, but that might also be because everything feels different being in a new environment. Anyways, sometime in the first week of school, I went to the nearby Internet café sponsored by USAID. The internet was free (another mind-blowing discovery)! I ran into one of the teachers’ kids on my journey back with Flavia. The walk was long and hot with little shade for comfort. After this first day, I doubted that I would make the walk to town from Stella Maris very often. I was right about that. Come visit during dry season and you’ll understand.

 

I found these cute children on my way back from the Internet cafe. They walk themselves to nursery school.

 

It's a really long and hot walk, but they're so used to it. I love that they hold hands. It's not uncommon to see men holding each other's hands, too, if they're close friends. :)

 

 

A poster I found in the staff room about different types of family.

The poster was a good reminder of how different and yet how similar families are in Uganda compared to our developed countries. There is greater visibility of orphaned and abandoned families, but there are also nuclear families, single parent homes, children raised by grandparents, etc.

Around this time, I was still getting acclimated to the village. Everything felt so strange and slightly uncomfortable. I enjoyed myself, but it was with some effort. The most difficult part for me was learning to identify everyone. For those of you who may have studied psychology, perhaps you might have heard of a concept called the same-race effect. This is when a person is more able to quickly identify a person of their own race. There’s a spectrum of races and I don’t mean to get into any heated debates about race, but it is an important aspect of being a foreigner in a completely different country. It took me a long time to able to differentiate the girls apart, especially when all their heads are shaved and they are in uniform clothing. I was overwhelmed. I met many CARITAS girls and I hope to have more opportunities for them to bond with us interns for the betterment of the entire CARITAS community. But first, we need to be able to identify who they are by face, name, and personality. Any ideas?

Topics: Africa

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