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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving On

I attended the graduation of some dear friends from Pere Cadet, a vocational and technical school in my community last weekend. The school offers a two year program in the following programs: catering, hotel management, tailoring, nursery school teaching, and hairdressing. The girls who just graduated are the ones I have been working with for the last 2 years. We’ve been through a lot together. I let the hairdressing students practice on my hair, I tasted the food the catering students cooked, I accepted crooked stitched dresses the tailoring students made for me, and I observed some teach nursery students. A group of us met once a week to learn Lifeskills. I’ve talked with these girls about every subject imaginable: friendship, gender roles, assertiveness, STD’s, sex, menstruation, vocation, HIV, nutrition, boys, etc. I would say some of these relationships are the ones I’m most proud of during my time in Uganda because of the authenticity and depth I have with them.

Knowing that, I was excited to attend graduation to cheer them on for the accomplishments they have achieved. I am so proud of these girls. But I had no idea how much it was going to hurt to see them graduate and move on, without me. It was also my first public event that really hit home I too am about to move on. I’ve watched these girls gain new skills and confidences but they have also watched me grow and learn more of who I am and what I want to become. I invested myself for 2 years and now it’s getting closer to the time for me to move away and start another life, just like my girls. This breaks my heart.

Ugandans do not cry unless it’s for a funeral. When I was going home to the States for my sister’s wedding Sister Nabasumba told me I couldn’t cry because I’d wreck the wedding. So, as I sat at graduation I told myself to hold those tears back. But I just couldn’t and I found myself sobbing at one point. Most of the Ugandans looked at me in horror. They didn’t know what to do with me. But my girls looked on with sympathetic smiles and funny faces trying to make me laugh. They knew those tears were for both of us. They were tears of joy, pain, accomplishment, loss and so much love.

My girls have packed their trunks, rolled their mattresses, hugged their friends goodbye, taken their certificates and left Pere Cadet forever. I may never see them again. I still have several month of my service left but I can already feel the pain my leaving is going to inflict upon myself and my dear friends here in Uganda. How am I ever going to leave?

Girls fanning themselves - HOT day!

One of my favorite families:
Mama, Oliver, and Sister Kizito

Lydia, Me, and Immaculate - Lifeskills girls!

1 comment:

  1. girlfriend, it's gonna be hard to leave.

    but a little less hard when you know that it'll get you that much closer to seeing people like me?