Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Fitting In...

               Secretly when I first started to blog I really didn’t like it. I used to blog when I was younger and I didn’t mind it then, but being forced to write 750 words once a week regarding the trip that I am going on; it is suffice to say that I thought it was challenging. I now look forward to writing my weekly blog, it has become one assignment that I don’t cringe at the thought of completing. So to keep on track of what this blog is about: getting ready for my three month placement in Uganda! I can tell you this much: it is hectic. Each day is filled with more things to do than the last. I have been moving along with what needs to be done before I leave: needles, forms, appointments, doctor’s visits, dentists, wisdom teeth extractions, volunteering and when I have a spare moment I try to research Uganda as much as possible. I am still frustrated at trying to find resources about Uganda in the specific areas that I want but I realized that the more I poke around the more I find. I can easily find more information on the United States or Canada but I guess that is to be expected since I live in this part of the world.
I have recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a woman who works at the University of Waterloo to discuss what it is like to live in Kampala. I invited along my travel buddy Krista and on the first day back from reading week we went to discuss what it is like to live in Kampala. So here is a brief view into what we should be expecting:

Evidently if you want to look like a tourist then you should wear shorts. We have to wear pants and long skirts. Did I mention that Uganda is on the equator? Oh and flip-flops are shower shoes and should not be worn out of the house. People will look at you funny.

Apparently this is the only time that I will feel most fearful for my life! The roads are so narrow and the boda boda’s zip in and out of areas with heavy traffic. Now I know what most of you are thinking, “A boda-what?” A boda boda is a way of transportation that people take in Uganda. Think of it like a taxi, only it is a motorcycle (or a bike). Here are two pictures:

General notes:
Do not wear jewellery, do not take a purse into the central market. Ok I’m warned. Also the people there are very friendly.

The Creepy Crawleys:
There should not be a problem with spiders (phew!) although there are lots and lots and lots of mosquitoes. (Mental note: if I only pack one thing, let it be a good mosquito net). There are also snakes.

And the last thing we did which made me so incredibly excited to go to my placement, we Google mapped. So that everyone else can be really excited about where I am going I will include a map for everyone to take a gander:

On the map the location that I will be staying at will be A and the location that Krista is staying at is location 
B. And there are a few things I learned about Uganda this past week! There is more to come though, I promise.
                On another note, I am glad to report to you that I have a volunteer placement! Finally! I start this coming up Tuesday and hopefully I will be able to get all of my 20 hours in before the end of the term. I have been very lazy when it comes to getting my placement set up. There were a few places that I wanted to volunteer at but the training days had already passed. I will just have to keep these in mind for when I return from my placement. I am going to be volunteering at the St. John’s Kitchen! I will have more to post about next week when I am going to have my first day of volunteering under my belt! Wish me luck! (First days are always a dousey for me)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am spending my reading week in Florida visiting my grandmother. I have been down in Florida since Saturday night. It has been six days that I have been in Florida. So I was in the shower tonight doing what I do best, thinking. It is the one place where, in this small condo, I can truly get away and be by myself and I don't have to answer 500 questions or be expected to keep up conversation. I don't have to answer why I like to keep some things in my life to myself. I can just be by myself and think. And what do I think about you wonder? My family. I get one moment to get away to have time by myself and what do I think of? the people I am trying to get away from for a brief moment.

I realized that I am not a very big family person. I am not a very communal person and I am very independent. I like to be able to do things by myself and to rely on myself. I always feel bad when I have to lean on someone else. I have structured my life to try to lean as least as possible on other people. I do not like to feel like I am in debt to someone else. I would rather struggle to find my own way than to have to lean on anyone else. With all of that said and done, I am not a scrooge who keeps to herself. I will stretch myself as thin as I can go to give to other people. I will offer rides, I will do extra work, I will do this and that and try my hardest to make people happy. In a way, I have very much adopted to a North American life style of independence (just without the blackberry). I am someone who loves my “home, but I can make that home wherever I am. I find a nice place that I feel safe and that section becomes my home. I find it hard to venture out from my spot and I like to be by myself in my spot. I am very much someone who loves my space that I call “home.

Saying all of that I have been constantly with my family for the past six days. I wake up and I am with my family, I go out and it's with my family, I go to dinner and it's with my family, I go home to relax and it's with my family and finally at the end of the night I go to bed and it's with my family. Now please don't misunderstand me, I love my family and part of the reason that I quit my job was, among many other plentiful reasons, was because I wanted to see my family on our traditional vacation to Florida. I love my family but being constantly around them has been so different. I haven't been with my family like this since I lived with them before moving into university (and all of the other Florida vacations). I have gotten used to being more independent. We are together constantly, and I know these are the times and the trips that I am going to remember forever. This is just vastly different from how I live at home and the contrast has taken some getting used to. I find myself looking forward for my vacation to end and my school to start again, to be able to go back to my little corner that I have made for myself and be comfortable by myself.

This makes me think more and more about this summer which is quickly approaching. I am going to be living with a family in Uganda and developing countries tend to have a more collectivist culture. I am going to have to get used to living in a family unit again; I am going to have to get used to sharing with a family. I am going to become part of a collectivist culture and this may be something that I may find extremely uncomfortable with. I like time to sit and process and be by myself. I have grown so accustomed to having my private life and having it be kept in my comfy space where I can work on it on my own. This summer I may have to lean on other people for help and I may have to be involved in the family unit. This may be one of my most difficult things to take part in. I like my walls and I like my comfy space, I am not going to be comfortable having it be pried open for all to see. Our professor told us a story where one of the old members in the program couldn't change one night because the entire family was in the room talking, expecting her to continue changing. Hello invasion of privacy! Although that is what a family is, among other things, a unit which is, as it is described, unified. I am going to have to learn how to venture out of my comfy space and be with the family. Hello culture shock, my name is Jacquelyn, it is scary to meet you.

A question to follow blog readers: Do you think of yourself as individualistic or community based?

Friday, February 12, 2010


This past week, although very hectic, was interesting. I made a presentation on Uganda in my class. I presented on the history, government (including the Lord’s Resistance Army), geography as well as my placement. This blog post I will cover the history and the government. Krista took over other topics and you can visit her blog here. She may post her details that she found when she writes her blog. Until then I can give you some more information about the topics that I researched. For all references to where I looked at the material please see the bibliography at the end. Unfortunately I do not know how to properly do referencing on this blogging tool. Each part of the bibliography is listed by section, so it should be relatively easy to find out where I got the information. If you are confused at all please send me a message or comment and I can help you out.
First I’ll show the information that I found on the history. The history of Uganda has many different governments which were overthrown by many other different governments. In order to know more about the country, however, it is important to know about its history. Uganda was found by the British in the 1860’s when they were looking for the origins of the Nile River which is located in Uganda. The British then took over Uganda and Kenya as its colonies. Uganda gained self rule in 1961 and this started the many different coups which occurred throughout Uganda’s history. In 1966 Prime Minister Milton Obote took over Uganda, suspended the constitution and assumed all of the government’s powers. Obote was in power until 1971 when he was run out of the country during a military coup led by Idi Amin Dada who then assumed power. Amin had many different human rights violations during his reign. Not only were there human rights violations but there was a large decline in the economic sphere. This decline is so great that they are still recovering from it. In 1979 a rebel army overthrew the government and Amin fled from the country. In 1989 President Obote came into power and this regime had one of the world’s worst human rights records. Then in 1985 the military took over and established a government. In 2005 a national referendum resulted in the adoption of a multiparty system. During this time there was also a law which eliminated presidential term limits. This allowed President Museveni (who was in power at that time) to be able to continue serving in government. The elections in 2006 declared President Museveni the winner for the third term in a row. The presidential elections occur every 5 years in the republic styled government which rules Uganda. The country has had a rocky history and it is now returning to peace and prosperity.
This country has a very unstable past which included many different military coups which frequently occurred. I cannot fathom what it would be like to live in a time when a country is in such a politically unstable. Everyone naturally wants to find peace and happiness and it would be terrifying when you think you are supporting the strongest party one day only to learn that they are not the next day. Not only are you lost in who to support but the other side has now targeted you as an enemy of the state. In Canada we are peaceful to the point where some people call our government a push-over on some subjects. We try to accommodate everyone who comes into our country, we try to make sure that they have housing (most of the time), that they are in good medical health and if they aren’t we have systems in place to help us get better, the government makes sure that if you are fired from your job that you will have some money still flowing through your bank account until you can get back on your feet. Our government is working for us, they are working to make sure that we are able to be taken care of. This is heaven compared to a country where you don’t even know who is in charge because it changes overnight. We are so lucky to have a government which is the same in the morning as it was the night before when we went to sleep. I am nervous to be going into a country which is so vastly different than ours. I am curious to see how this affects the people and how they think of their government. I know that our professor has told us that we are not supposed to talk openly about events in history. This may be a soft spot for the people in the country so I will try my best to carefully observe the people and their opinions of their government. I hope to gain some insight about how people interact with a government which has had many troubles in the past.
History Information
United States Department of State. “Background Note: Uganda.” .
Government Slide 1
United States Department of State. “Background Note: Uganda.” .
Government Slide 2
Election Gudie. “Country Profile: Uganda.”

Other Useful Links: (This is also my Bibliography)
Amin Idi
Country Flag
Child Soldier 1
Child Soldier 2
History Information
United States Department of State. “Background Note: Uganda.” .
Joseph Kony
Lord’s Resistance Army Picture
Lord’s Resistance Army Information
Dunson, Donald H. “Child, Victim, Soldier.” Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2008.
Government Slide 1
United States Department of State. “Background Note: Uganda.” .
Government Slide 2
Election Gudie. “Country Profile: Uganda.”
Geography Slide 1
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.”
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.”
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP).”
Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “Murchison Falls National Park.”
Semuliki National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “ Semuliki National Park.”
Kibale National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority. “Kibale National Park.”
Kamwokya Christian Caring Community
Kamwokya Christian Caring Community. “Kamwokya Christian Caring Community.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Orange Revolution?

I was sitting in the library today, not wanting to study the romantic poets with their obsessive amount that they like to go on about flowers, God and the glory of it all. They sound a little something like this (at least to me they do):

"I am sitting on a hill, looking upon this flower. This flower is beautiful but not in it's earthly form! It has a flowerness! A flower essence! The flower essence came from the Devince. I am too humble compared to God to speak of the Devine and what He means. Even though I just said the last sentence I am going to speak about it anyways (because secretly I think I am the most amazing person ever). The flower is beauty and beauty is the Devine and God is beautiful! Ah! What is that I see? A blade of grass? How could that be! (<- notice the rhyme?) A blade of grass to show it's essence to me. I think I will now frolic in a field. Excuse me for a while while I narrate my frolicking.)"

So I was sitting in the library trying to keep a grip on reality while the Romantic Poets teamed up to try to stage a coup of my last remaining sane brain cells when I noticed the paper sitting on the table. I decided to put my best defense forward and try to block their attack with a healthy dose of reality.

I noticed on the paper, where it had been left open, that there was an article about Ukraine. The Ukraine has been a country that I have been interested in for some time, since I started to learn about the Orange Revolution.The Orange Revolution was a mass nonviolent movement. The movement occurred because there was fraud during the elections. One candidate, Yanukovich, was found to have rigged the elections so that he would win against Yushchenko. Yushchenko and his partner Tymoshenko started the Orange Revolution to revolt against the corrupt government. There were approximately 1 million people who came to Kiev (this number has been disputed, some sources believe there was a half a million people). The people were protesting the unfair elections. There were a total of three elections and one court case before anything happened. Yushchenko ended up winning the presidential elections, due to the support of the revolution.

As I am a student in Peace and Conflict studies this, of course, raises my interest. I do not pretend to be an expert in what has gone on in the Ukraine, I have only had two classes on the subject matter. I am, however, interested in what is going on with the country's politics.

It seems as though there may be another Orange Revolution. Another? Did everyone not learn their lessons from the first revolution? If there is a possibility of another revolution will it be nonviolent or bloody? I would hate to see the name of the Orange Revolution turn red. I wait nervously to see what happens in Ukraine. I honestly hope that there will be no more cheating in the election polls and that somehow, it all turns out right. This may be a little naive of me to think that every story has a magical ending, but I do still hope for one. One way or another I think my friends who are going to the Ukraine should keep a close eye on this. This could end up being an interesting turn of events, and depending on how long it takes they may be in Ukraine during another nonviolent protest.

Here is the article I was reading from the National Post:

Ukrainian PM vows Orange street protest

Peter O'Neil, Canwest News Service Published: Friday, February 05, 2010


Ukraine faces the risk of chaos after Sunday's presidential vote after Yulia Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister, threatened yesterday to create another massive Orange Revolution-style demonstration to prevent her loss to front-runner Viktor Yanukovych.

She was responding to election-law changes, orchestrated on Wednesday by Mr. Yanukovych's parliamentary supporters, which could increase the likelihood of fraud similar to that in 2004, which precipitated the huge demonstrations.

"I ask you not to allow Yanukovych to rape our democracy, our election and our country!" said Ms. Tymoshenko, who finished 10 percentage points behind her bitter rival in the first round of voting last month.

"If we do not manage ... to ensure that the expression of the people's will and the results of this will are held in an honest way we will call people out.

"If Yanukovych wants an honest fight, we are ready to compete with him, but if he seeks to cheat, we will be able to rebuff him in a way he has never seen, even in 2004."

Mr. Yanukovych, whose 2004 presidential victory was overturned after evidence of widespread vote-rigging, ridiculed her gambit.

"This is a sign of weakness and a sign that she has understood she is losing," he said in predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, one of his power bases.

"The only people who will go to Independence Square [the site of the Orange Revolution protests] are those who like the same dishes as Tymoshenko --dirt, lies and slander."

The possibility of a post-election street fight -- and court battle -- increases uncertainty in a country of 46 million that is seeking the resumption of a suspended US$16.4-billion International Monetary Fund loan.

The legislative changes affect the rules governing polling stations and could increase the risk of partisan influence of the vote process, analysts say.

The new rules were quickly signed into law by President Viktor Yushchenko, Mr. Tymoshenko's 2004 Orange Revolution partner, who became her arch-rival.

"The changes do not make fraud inevitable, but they weaken the insurance mechanisms that are designed to stop it," Andrew Wilson, an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in his blog.

"Yanukovych's supporters, meanwhile, have reminded the world that they have never come to terms with, or even admitted, what they did in 2004."

But Mr. Wilson and David Marples, a historian at the University of Alberta believe the legal changes are also being exploited by Ms. Tymoshenko, a firebrand populist.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister is sounding increasingly "desperate" and appears to be implying she won't accept defeat, said Mr. Marples, director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, in an email.

"But the fact remains that few, if any discrepancies of voting procedure were observed in the first round. I am not suggesting that a Yanukovych presidency would be good for Ukraine, or that he is [a] pleasant or particularly honest man.

"Yet, if he won the first round by more than 10 [percentage points] without cheating, then why would he cheat on the second, especially with the entire world watching?"

Serhy Yekelchyk at the University of Victoria said Ms. Tymoshenko knows she's about to lose and will "try everything" to stay in power.

"It is not going to work this time, though. No repeat of 2004.

"The people are disillusioned with the Orange revolutionaries, who did not fulfil their hefty promises of 2004. Instead, they became mired in the same dirty politics and backroom deals so repulsive to ordinary Ukrainians."

Taken from the National Post

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Please Take Your Elbows off the Table.

Society has a specific set of rules that expects everyone to follow. Don’t put your elbows on the table, don’t pick at your teeth when you are sitting at the dinner table, don’t speak loudly in a library, during a lecture with 300 students do not ask questions, etc. There are all of these strange systems and rules that we all are supposed to know about and to follow. Does everyone know every little rule? Of course not. We may have opposing viewpoints of how to act in a certain situation or someone may just be unaware. On a general scale though, everyone know how they are supposed to behave when we are in public. We are taught lovingly by our parents when we are children to follow these rules of society. We cannot, however know every single rule for every single culture in every single situation. The world has six billion people in it (approximately). That number is so large that we cannot even comprehend what that would look like. With all of that said and done we are all very different and we have different ways to interact with different people. I have started to take the leadership workshops to try to discover more about myself and on the way I have discovered this class. The point was further made when I was at the library today. I was on the 7th floor of the Dana Porter library and I was trying to finish up some last minute studying. While I was studying there were these guys who were making so much noise. I may seem like an evil dictator but, I hate hearing people talking and laughing a lot when I am trying to study. It annoys me to no end. I was sitting at my desk thinking to myself “don’t these guys know that you aren’t supposed to make this much noise in a library?” This led to me start thinking more about rules in society (somewhat my own take on a subject that Cat has already discussed). We are about to embark on a journey to another country.
This makes me wonder what the rules are in Uganda. I wonder how many times I am going to be going to give a handshake and that may be the wrong thing to do, effectively disrespecting whoever I offered my hand to. I like to think that I can be ready to encounter all different cultures from all different walks of life; I mean I live in Canada! We have so many people come to our country from many other different countries. I like to think that I have mastered the awkward greeting. Although, I have always been the one who was born in Canada while the other person had just moved or they are visiting. It must be much more embarrassing for the other person. I am already established in my home and I know that I do not get offended that easily. This means that I will not be the master of the awkward social etiquette in another country. I won’t know when it is polite to slurp and burp when I eat or when I should be quiet. I will possibly be tripping over my own feet, trying to walk around. I think this may be one of the most frustrating challenges that I will encounter. I am not a person who likes to be at any disadvantage. I like to know what I am doing and I do not like to draw more attention to myself than is needed. I will have to learn patience when I am in Uganda. I will need to know patience to learn the ways of the world from the Ugandan perspective and hope that people will understand that I am still fumbling along trying to learn. I would not like to offend anyone when I am staying there.
Now to turn to news about volunteering! I have yet to start volunteering (ahhh! I should get on that!). I do not know, still, where I want to volunteer. Nothing sounds like it is something I would be really excited to do. I guess I will have to jump in and see if I like something. I am no stranger to volunteering but most of it has been with the fortunate crowd. For example, I helped to set up a biking marathon, or I help exchange students find their way around Canada. I have never worked with either a) children or b) people living below the poverty line. Anyone who reads this blog: do you volunteer? If so, where? I could use some ideas. I want to start volunteering soon!