28 of our 31 counselors showed up at Kisubi Girls’ this weekend for our Training for Counselors. The morning of, Celeste and I had stomach aches from nerves. What would these counselors be like? Would they catch our vision and make camp great? Did they have the energy to work 24/7 for a whole week? Were they going to get along with each other? These questions plagued us along with asking ourselves if we were ready to train them.
It turned out that every evening Celeste and I went to bed with big smiles on our faces thoroughly happy with how things were working out. We have some of the best woman in Uganda working at our camp! There will be 16 PCV counselors paired up with a Ugandan counselor. We let the PCV’s find their own co-counselor and they brought truly inspiring women. Some are teachers, administrators, midwives, secretaries and NGO workers. They were so enthusiastic and ready to learn all we had to share with them. They participated in all our activities and games. We even had weave-wearing women playing Drip Drip Drop (like duck duck goose but with water)! And let me tell you, American’s should not challenge these natural black gazelles in any kind of running games. They were made to run!
Some of the topics we cover are heavy and can be controversial. One of the activities we will be doing with the girls is condom demonstrations. While we were talking to counselors about this I looked in front of me and saw Sister Rose nodding her head saying “yes” over and over. Afterwards, she came up to me and said, “This veil makes it so I can’t say some things. But you are doing the right thing.”
As with any gathering of people, you find minor complications or annoyances. When you mix two cultures those can become apparent quickly. After the first night we asked if there were any issues that needed to be discussed and addressed. Immediately, the PCV’s brought the issue of cell phone talking up to us. The cell phone networks in Uganda offer different prices at different hours. It is the cheapest to call in the middle of the night. So, Ugandans call and talk in the middle of the night! Typically, Americans value sleep. Ugandan’s do not! Several Ugandan counselors received or made calls throughout the night. While the Ugandans are used to this and able to fall back asleep, that is not true for Americans and the PCV’s lost their much cherished sleep. In this instance, it allowed for a good cultural exchange talk about the differences in phone etiquette between our two countries. We hoped after this talk it wouldn’t be a problem the following night. It was.
Camp is less than 2 weeks away. We are getting closer and closer to being ready. Though there are still cultural differences we will have to work through, at least after this weekend I feel our staff is united and ready for the campers!
Sanyu and Renee making a poster for their group
Playing a song game
Trivia Night - working in teams
Working together to find a counselors missing glasses - they were found!