Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I have been back in the United States a week, but I feel like everything that happens is still so strange. My life in Africa feels like a lifetime ago some moments and like I should still be there others.

I still do not know where I stand or who I am in THIS world. I loved Uganda. Loved it with my whole heart. I loved my friends, I loved the people, I loved the beauty of the country, I loved the heat, I loved the fruit, I loved the sunset, I loved my family, I loved walks to town, I loved everything.

Coming 'back' has been a lot harder for me than it probably should be. I could relay countless culture shock incidents but it is not even that. I changed in Uganda. I changed a great deal, and I really struggle with people now. I feel like most people do not get it, they do not care that I have changed. I feel like many people are expecting me to come back to college the same girl I have been for the past two years, but I am not that person at all.

It is almost Christmas and I do not feel festive at all. I feel like I am in a dream. Like both my worlds cannot be real, and I am already tired of being in this one. I do not know how to adjust back. No matter how much re-entry someone puts me through, I still do not know how to adjust to this.

I knew it would be hard but I did not know that every day I would struggle to get out of bed because I did not get to wake up to the sun. I did not know that I was going to feel out of every loop created. I did not know I would feel like I lost the friends I had, and like going back to college in PA would simply feel like a nightmare. I did not know I would have a breakdown because I was living alone next semester, or because the dog at my chocolate. I did not know that I would feel so lost in broke in a matter of a week, and feel completely confused.

I did not realize how just out of it I would be in general. I went back to work yesterday and it was the most in sync I have felt in the past week.

I am tired a lot, and I need so much sleep. Everyone says jet lag but I am not sure if I can still attribute it to that. I cannot get over the hot water, the no fire oven, the big screen HD TV, the food, the desserts, the color of people, the stores, the stuff, the carpet, the washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher, the cell phone that I do not have to pay for. It feels like I dream world, and I just want to learn how to live in it again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trying to adjust..

Flying into Amsterdam was crazy. The first thing that hit me is how much everyone looks alike. When we were in Uganda we could all tell each other apart cause we were the Mzungu's in the midst of tons of Africans. Now everyone was white, none of us stood out except in maybe what we were wearing.

I have tried to think of things before I walk into them to try to prepare myself but it is not easy. I went out to lunch with my grandma's group of friends and listening to them just angered me. The way they complained about the dumbest little things infuriated me to my core. Then they asked questions about Uganda and I answered, when they stopped liking the answers they stopped talking to me.

What really drives me crazy is when people go "Oh Uganda, wow are you SO glad to be back??" Uh no I am not SO glad to be back. It is HARD to be back. It is definitely easier for me to adjust to there than to being back. If I say that though I just get a funny look. People do not get why I would ever choose to be 'there' rather than here.

The first night I was back I saw Phil in the airport. He bought me a snapple and when we were done eating he went to throw it away. In my head I was thinking... 'don't you have to return the bottle?' My mind has to retrain itself to what goes on here not there. Then once I got to Georgia my nana, gramps, and sister picked me up. (PS bek you have NO idea how happy I was that I got to see you, you made me week - I love you). We drove back to the house and my nana made hot chocolate and toast. They all laughed at me when I quietly said... This is really good toast.... My nana just laughed at my stale-bread-blue-band-health-inspector-breakfast stories.

Then I slept in a real bed. I was honestly missing my piece of foam above Lindsay's bed, with my mosquito net up above, and listening to the grasshoppers flying around. I was freezing, and with my sister. I used internet that night. I still can't believe how fast that is working. It amazes me every day. Then I took a shower. Now that was a real revelation. I just washed my feet over and over and they have not become brown since! It is so weird to have clean feet and to just feel so clean. I miss sweating.

The next day I was back I took my sister shopping. Now I had not driven since I left. I was trying to be confident but I was unsure. We did well though. I am pretty proud of myself cause then I drove my grandma back from the Atlanta airport after taking Bekah cause it was dark, and I did pretty good I think. I came home and went through all my clothes. I had to take all my stuff out of my suitcase so my sister would have a second one to take home, and my stuff was all over the living room floor. Somehow, and I am really unsure how I ended up with three loads of laundry. I had them prewashing and extra rinsing and literally got a cup of coffee, and sat in front of them watching them get clean. When they were all done I could not believe how clean everything was. My grandma had been commenting on my brown jeans and telling me I really needed to do laundry. I told her I had handwashed them... No one was impressed.

The cold is killing me. I had to board my plan outside in DC and thought I was going to freeze right then and there. Even being in Georgia, I have been SO cold. I do not think I will ever get used to this!

One of the weirdest things about being back, is that I cannot fit into any of my clothes. I gained, a number of pounds more than I thought I did, and now the only pants I can wear are the ones I took to Uganda with me and I lost the button on one of those, so that is a definite struggle. On top of that, everything I eat makes my stomach nauseous. I have been popping tums hoping that is calms it down. I have been doing my best to eat healthy and lightly. I still have no had ice cream and for all of you that had to listen to me miss it for four months you know what that means haha.

I went shopping with my nana yesterday and it went so well. Her and I had a really good conversation about what it is like for me to be back, and why some stuff bugs me. She was really great about listening to me. She has listened to all my stories with such great interest it has meant the world to me.

Life is different, but I go back to work tomorrow at the daycare I work at and I am really excited about that. I think it will help me alot.

So... That is my adjusting so far!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm not ready yet...

For those of you that know me well, you know how much I hate change, how much I hate goodbyes, and how after many a year of having to do them how much I still simply suck at them.

I get attached. Easily. And it is hard for me to move on sometimes. Ever since I left high school I have really struggled. I loved high school. I loved the people I was there with, I loved where I was, every little thing. Going to college in small town PA has not been easy for me at all. I have struggled with friendships and where I fit in. I still do not have a clue, and I am now a senior in college. I have struggled so much with my identity and life in college, I cannot even begin to explain it.

About six months ago my life hit me in the face. I was stuck and I hated that. I began making changes, and I think most people can see that I am so much happier. But I was still in GA, not forced to deal with my life at school, which I was running from as I left the US. I needed to get out, and I did. I went to Uganda.

In going to Uganda I had no idea what to expect. I think it is safe to say in the past four months My world has been turned upside down. Four months ago I left GA to go to PA. I spent three crazy days seeing people and dealing with annoying situations that I thought I had left. Phil drove me to the airport and I left.

I did not think about the day I would have to come back, and that is where I am struggling.

It is hard to be back. As nice as it is to see my family, get to talk to Phil everyday with a good internet connection, and have real food and hot water I miss it. I miss Uganda SO much.

I feel like one of the worlds I live/lived in has to be a dream. Nothing feels real right now and I feel like I have 20 lenses to look at the world through, depending on the world that I just returned from. I have no idea which one is right and how I fit.

I know a lot of people think that I KNEW I was coming back, so I should have been prepared. Well knowing something and doing something are so incredibly different. I feel like I am having to relearn my family, my friends, and figure out where I am at. And it is not going to end soon. It is going to be a whole new world once break is over and I have to go back to Valley Forge.

I have no desire to face what is ahead. Although I am walking back into that school as a senior, I am not sure I know what to expect, whether is be people, professors, friends who have not bothered being friends once I was in Africa, classes, chapel, or anything at all. I am beyond nervous about going back. I am coming from a 95 degree weather, a focus on experiences rather than books kind-of-learning and heading into freezing snow weather and 19 credit hours. I have had a number of struggles at that school, and I do not really want to go back and face much of anything.

I am not ready for all of this. I was not ready to come back. I appreciate all I have here, and the blessing I get from living in this country, but it is not easy for me to be back. I am struggling. A lot. I know I will get there eventually, but it is going to take me some time.

I would rather retreat into a hole, live in the world that currently feels like a dream and not face reality. I hold on to God, cause He is all I have for this. I know that I will adjust, eventually. Right now all I can do is pray.

Farewell Dinner and Entebbe (Debrief)

(Practicum students)

So the end of Uganda was alot of fun, sad but fun.

First off my 'family' and I went out and took lots of pictures together one of which is above. We had so much fun!

We also had a farewell dinner. It was where we said final goodbyes to a number of people. It went really well. Two people in our group gave speeches as did some teachers and other people. My family was supposed to come but ended up too busy to be able to make it, so just my aunt came, but it was good to be able to say goodbye to her!

The rest of that week was spent packing up, and then Sunday we went to Entebbe. We spent the weekend/beginning of the week debriefing and talking about reentry. However no matter how much someone tried to prepare you, you are never ready to leave.

We got to go to the zoo one day as well as hang out by a pool. I took my crazyyyy hair mostly out, and then tuesday night we went to the airport.

We had a flight at 1:45 that was 8 hours, then a 6 hour layover, then another 8 hour flight, then I had another 6 hour layover and a two hour flight.

Phil came and saw me once I got to DC, so finally getting to see him again was SO wonderful. He was such a help as I had to say goodbye to so many wonderful people, it was wonderous to have a familiar face right there next to me. It meant so much to me that he was there.

I froze on my flights. haha. I will have another blog on being back, it has been weird.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The past few days.

(The ending of Lit class.... Love these people)


(Mmmmm fried grasshoppers....)

As time is wrapping up so are the things going on. This past week has been the ending of classes and finals. I thankfully have no finals which is really nice.

It is grasshopper season right now and they are everywhere. They are in the shower, the toilet, the sink, our room, literally everywhere, but I am getting used to them. I also ate some which is the picture above. They mostly taste like salt and oil with a really bad aftertaste!

This past weekend we went to the marathon in Kampala. Not to run in but to watch. One of our leader people, Jones, was running it, and we got to see him which was really cool. He told people later that we helped him finish running it!

That is basically all that was going on. This week is mostly hanging out and doing stuff together before we leave.

I cannot believe that a week from today I will be in the United States. It is so unbelievable to me that my time here is over. It feels like time has flown by and I should be here much much longer. It is going to be so weird to leave...


Two weeks ago I got my hair twisted. Sorry I am just getting around to pictures! I have alot of hair... haha.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Overview of my time...

I had to write a final essay for my Faith and Action class basically talking about my overall experience in Uganda and what I am taking away from my four months here. It was for a class so there may be some things that are referenced that do not make sense, but I thought a few people might be interested. It is long, but if you are interested here it is!

The last four months have been a life changing experience for me. I am so incredibly glad I came to Uganda. I was unsure of many things, and although I still have a great deal in my life to figure out, coming to Uganda is one of the best choices I made in my life.

When I came to Uganda I came with few expectations or goals. I was tired of being in the United States, and with a great deal of other things in my life. I needed change of scenery and my love of Africa drew me to this program. I never expected to have some of my views so confirmed and/or changed in the four months I have been here. I did not expect to see much of a difference here than in the life I had lived in other countries before, and I was surprised at both how much I knew and did not know.

Since I have come to Uganda my relationship with God has grown significantly. After high school, because of some different circumstances I slowly drifted away from Him and focused too much on me and what I wanted and what I was looking for in this life. I still wanted to know what He wanted for me, but I kept pulling away, and demanding my rights. I really struggled with trusting God, and truly believing that He actually had my best interest in mind.

When I came to Uganda I was a broken person who had only recently begun to be repaired. I had only recently opened up my heart to letting God back in. Upon coming to Uganda I realized that I could not do this on my own. Every other time I had moved I was in the care of my parents with no worries whatsoever. I came here alone. I knew no one and did not really have a clue what I was getting into. In the time I have been here I have really learned how to lean on God. I have spent a good deal of time trying to grow closer to Him. I have spent more time seeking out what He wants and just trying to be more aware of His voice and be guided by God and God only. Faith and Action has been a good class for that. Although I do not agree with things that are said, or always love the class it has caused me to think about my relationship with God and this world. When I go home I want to continue trying to work on my relationship with God, and growing in Him.

I love the USP and Ugandan community. I have to admit making friendships with Ugandans has not been the easiest even for me. A great deal of this is because of the way men act here. Many times I just get hit on not talked to and that frustrates me. On the other hand, I absolutely love Honors College, especially the girls. They have truly just welcomed us in and I feel so comfortable with them.

I do love the way that people use ‘presence’. It is difficult for me to just sit sometimes and literally do nothing at all for long periods of time, but I think it is great the way they all care for each other and show their love through their presence. As Taylor speaks about how you have to interact with another culture on their level, I think that it has been a great growing and learning experience to be on the same page as people. I hope to learn how to be more ‘present’ even in the hustle and bustle of the United States and take what I have learned here about people and apply it to those back in the United States.

At the same time I love the USP students. The community that has developed between the thirty-two of us in these past four months astounds me. In many ways I have no desire to go ‘home’ where relationships are so much more confusing and not near as just simply good solid friendships. Although being with the same people all the time can be infuriating at moments, I love the people that are here with me. I love the way that we take care of each other and truly just look out for each other. I feel as though I have grown so close to the people here, and I wish that I did not have to leave them. I really want to work on my friendships when I get home and take a real look at them. After being here, I do not want to settle for friendships that are not as solid, or even just as true caring as the way we are together here are.

There are six of us girls that have grown even closer than most. Although I have a good relationship with everyone here the six of us are like a family. We all have our ‘place’ and we have grown together in such a way it is truly as though we are sisters. We are the family that we do not have here for each other. One of the most difficult things about leaving is going to be saying goodbye to the family I have developed in them.

As for the staff I do not have an overall strong opinion. I feel as though they are all given a great many roles to play and that it is hard to balance all that. It makes me truly appreciate the resources that people have in the United States, to be able to hire a great number of staff to fulfill so many different positions. However, one of the most frustrating experiences I have had here in reference to staff is just the way classes and grades are so different. I am someone who cares a great deal about my grades and that is what my focus is on. To not be given any and on top of that to be put under a different grading system was not easy for me at all. I feel as though giving grades can be better for some people, and also a better explanation of how we will get our grades for all our classes at the end of the semester would have been extremely useful and helpful for my time here.

Faith, hope, and love are spoken about in the bible as some of the most important aspects of our relationships with both people and God. How we handle and have these three things affects how we live our life.

When we discussed ‘faithfulness versus effectiveness’ from Mere Discipleship it really showed me how much our faithfulness had an effect on everything else. Although I cannot say that I agree with everything Lee Camp states in his book, I do appreciate how he believes we need a stronger faith in God and when that happens we will become more effective. I struggle with this because I want to be effective; that is one of my greatest goals. I am in social work because I want to make a change in at least one person’s life. I do not believe that the “end justifies the means” that Camp talks about and explains how that is destructive. I do think that the means is extremely important and perhaps something that many people forget. My goal is to be effective through being faithful and by doing things the right way, even if both of those are difficult at times.

Hope is something that I feel like many people give up. Personally I know I have lost hope at times in my life when I got hurt or confused. Since I have been here it is has been so incredible to see the hope many people have despite their circumstances. Compared to the majority of the world I have an easy life. I have food, a house, a family, and I do not fear that I will wake up and have nothing. I know that I am taken care of, and that when I graduate I will capable of carrying on my life and will be able to take care of myself. I have the ability to have health insurance, a car, a place to stay, and money to pay off my bills as well as invest for my future. Yet those who have the most seem to have the least hope, whereas it seems as though people who have so little are filled with such hope. They long for a better life and they do not lose hope. I respect that so much about the people here who have been living the same way for so long, yet have such hope about life and everything. They do not give up, and they do their best no matter what their circumstances are.

Love is not always easy to demonstrate. It is something that can be both hard to receive and give out. The community that I have seen develop simply among the USP students has truly demonstrated what real love should look like. The 32 of us were tossed together in a new country, culture, with people we had never seen before. All of us were force to interact with each other and become friends even if in ‘real life’ we would never have interacted with each other. As a result of this we have all come to love each other in such an unconditional manner.

When only 32 people are together all the time at moments it is difficult. To always be around the same people, they are bound to drive you crazy once in awhile. However, I feel as though I have made true friends. Friends who love me dearly, who care about me, for no reason other than the fact that they love me. The way we have all grown together and the way we all interact with each other truly shows me what love should look like in this world. It is not distorted; it is not for someone’s own benefit, or just cause we feel we have to be around each other. It is a result of truly caring about each other. We have a community similar to how Compassion suggests a group has one. “Compassion is not an individual character trait, a personal attitude, or a special talent, but a way of living together”.

When I came here I thought I had a lot of my vocational decisions figured out. Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life it was an easy answer, I was going to work in international adoption. I have a passion for Africa and international orphan children especially. When I began my practicum here my whole plan got thrown for a roller coaster ride. After working in some parts of international social work I was all of a sudden very unsure if that is what I really wanted to do.

In the beginning of the semester Gwen had us read Human Rights and Social Justice in a Global Perspective. In it there were a couple chapters that hit me, mostly ones that contained human rights. There is a quote on page 20 that says “social workers may find themselves in a bind trying to recognize the right to one’s culture as well as one’s human right’s”. I think that it made me realize that international social work is more than just put this child with this family. It is a blending of cultures and a great deal of work. Although I still love this area I am just not sure if it is really what is for me.

After rural home stays when our whole group was at Sipi Falls, some of us began talking about social work and specifically adoption and foster kids. During this conversation it hit me. I had forgotten why I went into social work. I had forgotten the passion I had for life, justice, and children being properly taken care of. At the end of that conversation I realized how much I want to work in social work in the U.S. for a while. Although I am still in-between some different ideas and still not sure, I feel like I do have a better grasp of what I want to do and what God wants me to do, especially with the gifts and passions he gave to me.I cannot say that I am sure of what my purpose in life is. I am not sure if anyone ever really knows that, but I want to do my best to figure it out. Right now my purpose is to be in Uganda and do the best that I can in my life here and in what I am doing here. Right now my purpose is to be the best I can be. However, our purpose changes I believe throughout our lives and I will simply always try to be the best I can be with whatever it is. I know I mess up a lot and that I still have a great deal to learn, but I want to live my life for God no matter what I do. I know that that phrase sounds cliché but I truly do. God has done so much for me in my life, and I want to live my life for him, no matter where that takes me.

Identity is a difficult thing for me. I feel as though I have several and that leads me to be confused about who I really am. Sometimes it seems as though I have a few lives that I lead because of the different friends I have and the different places I have lived. It is difficult sometimes, as I do not know where my heart lies. I love the life I led growing up, but I feel as though I have changed so much since I began college.

I have lived in four countries, four states and at least 15 houses throughout my life. I have always struggled with who I am. I have always defined myself as the oldest of three sisters, someone who loves sports and the ocean. I was the girl who was from Africa who did not want to come back to the US. I am the girl still learning to adjust to life and find myself.

Coming here has taught me a lot. I chose to come here because I knew I needed to do something other than what I had been doing for the past two years. I had hoped to maybe understand myself better, and find myself. Although that is not what happened I think I have come to better terms with my identity.

My identity in Christ is the most important to me. As I said before I desire to please Him and to be sure that He is the center of my life and all my relationships at all times. My identity in Him does not involve anyone else; it keeps the world out and only him in my viewpoint. My identity in people has always meant too much too me. I value what people think in me and my goal when I leave is to stop worrying about what people think of me and only care what God thinks of me. I want to make decisions for myself and no one else.

My identity in my family is to be the best daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, and niece that I can be. I know that I do not always succeed in this, but I want my family to be proud of me. My family has stood by me all 20 years of my life. When there was no one else in this world there they were, always next to me encouraging me. Coming here only made me realize how important they really are to me. Although I would not see them during this time anyways the convenience of being able to call them or know that if I really needed to I could see them was wonderful. I realized how much I truly miss them and how much I love them.

Being here in Uganda was and is such an amazing experience for me. In so many ways I am not ready to go home. I am not sure how to take everything that I learned and apply it. I have some ideas obviously, but life is different in both countries and it is hard to reconcile where I stand on some issues. I tend to think about everything that I do here in a different way than I do in America. I am thankful for the month that I will get before school begins to adjust. At the same time I am not sure if once you have lived overseas you can really ever completely adjust because you see life so differently. Once you have been exposed to the rest of the world you can never go back. For that I am eternally grateful.