So I got dropped off at site on Thursday, not having any idea what to expect. I called my counterpart when I arrived, and he met me at a shop near to where I got off. I chatted a bit with the shopkeeper and some gentlemen seated outside who were all very nice and welcomed me into their town. They assured me that it is a great place.
I walked with my counterpart to my new home, which is much nicer than I had even hoped for. No power or water, but I have two decent-sized rooms (maybe 12×12 feet), a small kitchen, and an indoor bathing area attached to the bedroom. It was just recently refurbished, so it is decently painted. The entire structure is concrete, which is pretty standard here. It does have a ceiling (many homes and buildings here have a roof but no ceiling) and it stays relatively cool.
On that note, it is HOT here. It is still the rainy season, and about 3/4 of the ground is covered in grass. Apparently it all turns to dust during the dry season. When sitting under the tin roofs of the classrooms, you can actually here the metal expanding at around 10am! One of the teachers that I talked to cited the deforestation of Uganda as the cause for so much of its recent climate change, which I think is probably true. I am not looking forward to the dry season. I can barely hack it as it is. But I got used to the heat in Wakiso, so I can probably do it here. But it will suck.
Anyway. After moving my stuff inside and seeing my place we went to the school. I met a few teachers and saw the computer lab (10 good, fuctional computers), the library (a lot of English books, but very limited physics and biology). I have discovered that my primary role here will be to get the computer lab running effectively, to design and teach ICT classes, and otherwise try to impart some computer literacy. I will also be teaching a lot of physics, because they only have 3 physics teachers (for a school of 1000).
Yesterday I went to the end-of-term (we are now on holiday) staff meeting where all Department Heads gave a report. It was very enlightening. The common problems that they all had were students missing from class, few textbooks, and not enough teachers. There is a high teacher turnover rate, and one disappeared and was gone for 4 weeks before anyone found out why (and then adjusted the schedule), so there are many dependability issues. I am already getting a feel for which teachers I’ll be working the most with, but I am having trouble learning names because the naming system in Teso is: Teso name, clan name, and “religious name”. That last one is equivalent to “first name” for us, but is always pulled from the Bible (if Christian) or Quran (if Muslim). Speaking of which, about 1 out of 4 people ask me “Where is Eve?” when I tell them my name. I just respond “Mam engo ajeni” (I don’t know). They seem to find this amusing.
The people here are VERY nice, though I have been asked for money a few times (usually by children). Mostly they just want to chat and are amused at my efforts to learn and speak Ateso. They all want me to learn and insist that I will be “pure Iteso” by the end of my two years. Working at an English-only school will make that a bit difficult, but we shall see.
So that is about all I want to say at the moment. As far as how I am feeling about the situation, I’m not yet sure. I don’t have any work to do, and my main goal now is to get to know the place. It didn’t help that I lost my voice on the first day here (it’s pretty much all back), which sucked away a lot of my enthusiasm. But I will give it time.