I am in Arua Town on my future site visit, in which we all go to our future site to meet our Ugandan counterparts, see our schools/colleges, and approve our housing. Right now I am actually in the town, and have just departed my site this morning, to see the PTC that I will be reporting to (arua core primary teachers college). I live about 8-10 km from town, down a bumpy dusty road called O'dumi, which leads to the Congolese border. The landscape is lovely, lush, and with some rolling hills. I have a very interesting living situation. I seem to live in government housing (?) in a compound that is close to the sub-county office. It seems that a lot of policemen and medical students live in the flats, because there is a health center next door, too. This is great because I have pretty incredible resources in my backyard. My counterpart, mike, who is eastern ugandan, seems to be a very capable coordinating center tutor and has been doing it for many years. i can tell that he takes his job very seriously and i think that we will work well together, and that i will hopefully stay very busy.
when i first arrived in arua town on wednesday, i was picked up by the driver from the ptc, brought to the ptc for a brief introductino, and then driven to my village. although i live only 10 km from town, it is a longer drive because of the bumps and potholes and all of the human traffic from the congo. i know that the first thing iw ill have to do once i move up north is buy a bicycle, because i will have to be going between town, my coordinating center (which is 1.5 km away from my site) a nd the 29 other schools in my catchment area (which spans about 30 km). In short, I will be doing a lot of moving around and since we are not allowed as PC volunteers to ride on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), i will have to primarily be biking. i am excited about this. also, my good friend tom lives only about 4-5 km away, further towards the congo. we will be able to walk adn bike to see each other fairly easily. the first thing my counterpart did was introduce me to the staff at the sub-county office, who are all women! the sub county chief, the chief of health, th parish chief, the accountant....they are all such amazing resources for me and i know that i will be working with them for secondary projects. they are all very involved in community mobilization and important issues such as womens issues, hiv/aids prevention, etc. they are all young, beautiful, and intelligent women. also, they wear pants, which is pretty rare here.
i think that between the health center next door, the staff at the sub-county office and my counterpart, i will have many collaborative partners.
The downsides of my visit included a random and spectacular tropical illness that i somehow contracted right before i left for Arua. This said illness kept me basically lying flat on my mattress the entire site visit and unable to eat for several days. It also stopped me from seeing my school/coordinating centers or much of the surrounding area around my home. It was a frustrating few days because instead of walking around and meeting community members and neighbors, i was shut up inside of my house, and probably camke off as aloof. Despite being ill, I was still able to meet a lot of people around the area.
More about this later. I need to go study my language for my final this week!