Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kongunga Secondary School's New Library

I am proud to present pictures of Kongunga Secondary School's new library, officially the third secondary school library established in Bukedea District. The library comprises 6,000 volumes of English, Science, Math, Geography, and History textbooks and workbooks, as well as fiction, nonfiction, and reference books. It will open on September 3 when the school term resumes. In September (before I leave Uganda), my primary focus alongside Denis, the librarian, will be to teach the students and teachers of Kongunga Secondary School how to effectively use the library for research and/or to reference information. As this will be the first time many of the students have ever used a library or opened a library book, teaching, for instance, how to use a book's Table of Contents/Index or how to properly care for/open a book is critical. Beginning next term, Denis and I also hope to form an afterschool reading club for students. Wish us luck!  



The outside of Kongunga Secondary School's new library.

Steel door and lock to safeguard all books, property, and materials inside the library.

Library shot.

Library shot take 2.

Library shot take 3.

Reference section.

Fiction section, organized and labeled (by color-coded label) according to Primary Fiction (P1-P4), Intermediate Fiction (P5-S2), and Secondary Fiction (S3-S5).

Math section.
English section.

A sign that explains the rules and policies of the library. 

A sign that explains how we organized books in the library, using the color-coded classification system.

Subject books for teacher use only, stored in the Staff Resource Room.

Take 2.

Class sets of subject books, stored in the Staff Resource Room.

Denis sitting at his desk.

Denis graduated with a degree in Library Management Science from Uganda Christian University, and has worked extensively as a librarian at Amnesty International in Mbale, so he is certainly qualified for the position. More importantly, now that we've hired Denis, I am confident that the library will be sustainable and achieve its intended objectives after I leave. 

Thank you again to everybody who so generously contributed to the project! It certainly wouldn't have been possible without you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two Years In, Two Months Out

Exactly two years ago, 45 strangers embarked on a journey together, having touched down on African soil (a first for many of us) at Entebbe Airport at approximately 6:00PM on August 11, 2010.

We originated from all different parts of the United States. Wisconsin, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, Iowa, Maine. Some of us had very extensive travel experience; others had never previously been out of the country. Some of us just graduated from college; others were leaving husbands, wives, and children behind. We came in with a variety of experiences, perspectives, interests, backgrounds, and reasons for joining the Peace Corps. Racially, we were not a diverse group, but individualistically, we were an incredibly diverse and unique group.

Now that I really think about it, it boggles my mind that I've lived in Africa for nearly 1/12 of my life, two years that have given me far more than I have given it.

What does it mean numerically, living in Uganda for 730 days?

4 training groups, about 160 PCV's, have sworn in throughout that time. A little fewer than 729 nights have been slept under a mosquito net. 3 mango flies have been extracted and squeezed out of my left leg. I have fathered 1 dog and 2 cats. 24,000 books have been sorted, labeled, cataloged, and shelved at various schools around Uganda. 20 pounds have unintentionally been lost. 1 Boston sports team (Bruins) won the Stanley Cup, another (Patriots) broke my heart by losing in the Super Bowl, another (Celtics) infuriated me by choking to the egocentric "King James" and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and one (Red Sox) can't even play .500 baseball at the moment. The weather never dipped below 65 degrees. Many friends have been made, both in Peace Corps and in Kachumbala.

More than just numbers, though, living in Africa for 730 days has made me even more so appreciate my family, friends, and life back home. It has taught me new things about myself, and reaffirmed things I already knew. It has exposed me to new customs and different ways of thinking about things. It has exposed me to cultural quirks I will never again be exposed to. Unless history repeats itself, and I make a baby cry because of my muzungu exterior, become the victim of another person's vomit, or have the unfortunate priveledge of eating matooke or posho.

Here's to the 44 other people I started this crazy journey with two years ago!

January 2011 - A post-IST shot of the majority of our group on the Nile River

October 2011 - A Midservice shot of all 45 of us still in Uganda
What's in store for me the last two months?

Officially opening Kongunga Secondary School's new library in September when school starts back up, and working alongside Denis, the newly hired librarian, to ensure that everything runs smoothly (pictures on the way). Filling out and reading COS paperwork. Refining my resume. Having my final medical checkup. Cementing travel plans and booking flights. Reflecting. Savoring every last minute I have here. Saying my (hopefully not final) goodbyes.