April 08, 2006

Stoops on Stoops: Chapter One - In Memoriam of Herbert

by Stoops

(so, i figure the best way to go about this is to publish exerpts from my upcoming book, "Stoops on Stoops - An Autobiography of Stoops, by Stoops". i believe either jacob or chapman came up with this title. also, there is considerable overlap with the mass email i just sent out, so if you got that, there's nothing new here).

i'm currently finishing up week four of training. i have spent a substantial amount of time learning the local language for my area, which is runyunkore/rukiga. it seems as though i will be able to do most of my job responsibilites in english, and i should be able to get by using it in the village, but picking up with local dialect is key to integrating into the community, and i'm going to be trying to pick up on as much of it as i can. of course, the best way to learn it is not in the classroom but in the community, and the local community at my training site in luwero speaks luganda. did i mention that uganda has over 30 languages?

speaking of job responsibilities, the other major focus of my time has been learning what my role in the ugandan education system is going to be. i will be working closelt with the coordinating center tutor --- the CCT --- in monitoring and mentoring teachers at the primary level. "but stoops," you're thinking, "you've never taught before aside from tutoring --- how can you mentor teachers?" the answer, simply, is that it doesn't take too much to be a primary school teacher around here, and i am more qualified to teach these classes than some, if not most, of them. that's not to say that they're all bad, and most really do want to do well. a major focus of my work is going to be integrating co-opertaive learning techniques in the classroom, so it isn't so much chalk-and-talk. i've spent a lot of time working with my fellow PCV's in devising ways to do this, and i've also gone out to surrounding schools to get a feel for the system.

anyway, it has been a great group of people. i'm with these people for hours each day, and we've gotten along fine. it'll be sad to go our semi-separate ways in may.

the cross-culture element of uganda has been interesting. i should mention that staring in uganda is *not* considered rude, and since i'm white, EVERYONE stares at me. now, normally when someone says "EVERYONE stares at me," you asssume there is some hyperbole involved. that is not the case here. also interesting: as you may or may not know, homosexuality is illegal here in good ol' uganda. *however,* it is common for friends of the same gender to hold hands when walking down the street, but *not* the opposite gender. to imagine how weird this is, imagine scott and brian holding hands if you're from my home group, max and goose holding hands if you're from new york, and robinson and tank holding hands if you're from justin's wedding group. yeah, it's weird.

also, i should mention that i killed a chicken (named Herbert) last saturday and ate it. well, actually, this guy keith drew the straw that meant he killed the chicken. but i did play an instrumental role in its death, and i witnessed the magical transformation of the chicken from a living, breathing creature to an ingredient in chicken fajitas. i wanted to see if i would become a vegetarian, but all it proved to me is that i really like chicken fajitas.

part of the reason i like chicken fajitas is because they taste like something. virtually all of the food in uganda, however, does not. they have this thing called matooke which is steamed, mashed bananas --- which may or may not sound appetizing to you, but imagine if it were served EVERY DAY for EVERY MEAL. yeah.



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