A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meetings and Life in the Southern Hemisphere

This was supposed to be the first week of the second term of school. However, the Ugandan Ministry of Education has not released money for the term yet. So many schools across Uganda did not open including the college I work out of. I attended a meeting there on Monday. There was much hemming and hawing over what to do. Someone kept calling the ministry but no one answered. Surprise surprise. Apparently this happens often. As in almost every term. While it is an inconvenience, people wait and school starts a week or so late. And so . . . I wait.

Ugandan’s follow protocol to the extreme. Meetings go for hours in what could have taken half an hour or less. Every discussion must follow the set agenda and you must speak in order after being called upon. My meeting on Monday brought a few interesting characteristics to my attention. First of all, there is an unhealthy affinity for taking notes. The other tutors wrote done every word spoken. They even wrote the agenda that was already typed out and in front of us. Secondly, the meetings include features that are completely unnecessary. For example, we spent a good 40 minutes reading over the minutes from our last meeting and spell checking the typed minutes. I was in the minutes from last month when I was introduced to the college and my name was typed: Amanda Rodrignes. All the tutors wanted me to bring this typo to the attention of the chair but I didn’t think they were that serious. Because, really, who corrects the typo in the minutes during a meeting? It was Celeste, a fellow PCV who works out of the same college, that brought up this problem. The other tutors nodded their heads and Mmm Mmmed her correction. Now, they think she is the brilliant one and I am not so smart because I couldn’t even correct my own name.

I crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in my life last weekend. There was a very touristy place with swarms of Mzungu’s (white people) taking pictures with one leg in the North and one in the South. I saw it in a blur from my Matatu (public transportation) seat on my way to Masaka. I went to visit my friend Amber and see several other PCV’s. It was a great weekend of simply being together. We spent hours cooking our meals, just sitting in Amber’s house reading for fun, and discussion the great questions of Uganda such as, “Would Uganda collapse if all the aid money pulled out,” and “How would politics in Africa be different if European influences hadn’t broken areas into countries based on interest and instead based on tribe?” It was a great weekend.


  1. amanda, i love reading about your adventures and died laughing, imagining you and Ashley walking through the village carring huge pieces of timber!! haha, i just love you!
    -xoxo Ashley

  2. Amanda this is fantastic! I love it! And I love you dearly and miss you so much!!--Love, Lindsay

  3. Amanda,

    It is so great to hear about all of your adventures. I can picture you facial expressions, the waving of your hands, and even hear the inflection in your voice when I read your writting! It all sounds incredible and I cannot wait to read more.

    Love you,