Thursday, July 16, 2009


I got an email from the Uganda desk yesterday with welcome letters from the Uganda staff (in Uganda) and the Country Director (CD) Larry, an updated packing list, a few thoughts on electronics, a homestay questionnaire, and a training schedule, which I'm going to share bits of with you now! (aren't you lucky?)

Pre-Service Training

Overview of Training Schedule -
The Pre-Service Training follows a community-based approach. This means that, after a few days gathering at central points for large sessions, we will then begin to hold our sessions in the communities, in smaller groups, using the trainer houses, or places where community members gather. It emphasizes hands-on training and learning by doing. You will practice working with community groups to enable you to get acquainted with Ugandan learning styles. The initial weeks of training are as follows:

Arrival/Week 1 (Aug 6-11):
Overcoming jet lag and conducting individual Program Managers and Medical informational and familiarization meetings:

This week involves community entry, as Trainees begin to understand how to communicate with their Ugandan families and communities. We will explore Uganda's history, issues of community development and the Volunteer's role in that development, personal health, and cross-cultural issues. The focus is on community entry skills and techniques, the concept of HIV/AIDS at the global level and the Ugandan situation.

August 6: Airport arrival, transfer to the Training and Conference Center and a welcome tea.

August 7: The CD will welcome us and the Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) will introduce us to the medical program and give out Medical Kits to us. Thereafter, the Safety and Security Coordinator will give us some security tips.
Activities will also include an overview of Peace Corps Uganda by the CD, the Role of Volunteers in Development (RVID), and Introduction to Project Plans by Project Managers. In the afternoon, we will have a session on Introduction to Uganda by the Cross-Culture Coordinator. Also, there will be individual meetings with the Program Managers, the CD, and the PCMOs. During the same period, there will be 'survival' Luganda lessons - the language commonly spoken in central Uganda. A small amount of walk-around money will be given to help us buy some few personal requirements.

August 8: Interviews will continue as necessary, running hand in hand with the survival Luganda lessons. PCMOs will give us rabies shots. In the afternoon, we will have the chance to listen to people from phone companies, and be able to purchase a mobile phone if we wish.

August 9: The day's activities include an introduction to homestay living with a panel of current PCVs to help us prepare for the intricacies of life with a Ugandan family. The PCMOs will have a session with us on food-water preparation and diarrhea.

August 10: We will have a Safety and Security session in the morning. Thereafter, we will depart the Training and Conference Center for the town of [town name omitted], at the [pre-service training center], where we will meet our Ugandan host families. At 2:00pm we will depart to our lodgings of the next 8 weeks with our home-stay family.

August 11: We will return to [the pre-service training center] in the morning by 7:50am to start our Pre-Service Training. We will do language and have a session on bicycle maintenance. Bicycle transport may be our major means of transport once a Volunteer and we will be expected to demonstrate our competency in riding and maintaining a bicycle during training.

Week 2 and 3: Field-based training
In these weeks we will be exposed to many different relevant technical areas and issues regarding the health and development of Ugandan communities which will be presented to us through a combination of classroom and experiential learning activities. We will practice community entry techniques and will learn how to work with grassroots development partners. The relationship between socio-culture and HIV/AIDS will be conducted.

Week 4: PCV visit
During this week, all Trainees will be in the field experiencing some of the responsibilities they will assume as Volunteers. We will visit a current PCV during this period using public transportation.

Weeks 5-10: Other key activities
We will be exposed to PC initiatives of Women and Gender in Development, ICT, as well as youth empowerment initiatives. All these will be integrated with improved livelihood and capacity building development activities. We will have an opportunity to experiment with Village Savings and Loans, a great tool to use with PLWAs, and small business people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Building Community Relationships
We will explore work opportunities using an asset based approach and how to extend PCV work to reach all the beneficiaries of the project. Overall, we will redefine our role as a development agent. In addition, we will be required to demonstrate our readiness to embark on our technical work by presenting a model workshop based on the needs assessment we will have done in a Ugandan community through a Qualifying Project.

Language Proficiency Testing
Peace Corps regards language both as a social and a safety issue. It attaches great importance to our learning a local language to enable us to integrate in the community. We will take a language proficiency test to gauge our proficiency in a Ugandan language that we will begin to learn during the arrival week.

After undergoing pre-service training, we will be sworn in as Volunteers. The Swearing-In event is normally presided over by the U.S. Ambassador and Ugandan Government Officials, which formally marks the end of pre-service training. We are expected to depart for our future site that very afternoon.

The Swearing-In ceremony will be on October 15, 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Am now...

taking suggestions for a reliable and inexpensive shortwave radio to bring with me.

Thanks :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I guess this means it's real

Booked my flight to Philly today. I'm getting into Philly a couple days early to spend some time with my sister before staging.

Speaking of staging...the date's been changed. Instead of being on August 2nd, we're now meeting at the hotel on August 4th and flying out of NYC on August 5th, landing in Uganda (after a 17hr, 45min trip) at 9:40pm.

Wish me luck :)