The First Goodbyes

19/11/15

I said goodbye to my year 1 students and one of my neighbors today. I finally felt better today, so I washed my clothes after the torrential downpour of the morning subsided and then made my way to the PTC. I gave my supervisor a very nice fountain pen from Boston University and discussed the last few discussion points of my service:

  • Term timetable for the ICT tutors
  • Driving me to Kampala from Luteete
  • What to expect to do with my successor
  • Schedule for my last three weeks in-country

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I then spent one of my last days teaching in the computer lab. A few year 2 students came in and I taught them the basics of holding the mouse, practicing drag-and-drop with solitaire, and the functions of major keyboard keys. We also had a heated discussion where I tried to convince them that being black doesn’t make you any less intelligent, developed, or able to succeed compared to “whites”. What really riled me was when they said that they would much rather prefer a “white” person like me as a Peace Corps Volunteer than a black African Peace Corps Volunteer. They just couldn’t comprehend that black people could be successful or called true Americans because of their skin color. So honestly, it wasn’t that different than many of the discussions that I have had with them.

It feels weird, because I was teaching as if it was any other day during the term, but I knew that everything would soon be different. In less than a month I would be hanging out with friends in Amsterdam and I would breathe in the frigid December air. I left the ICT lab in the late afternoon and said goodbye to the year 1 students whom I could see. Naturally, they all wanted my contact information and photo.

When I got back to my house, I shared some samosas with my villagers and then said goodbye to Master Okia. Master Okia is one of the fathers who lives in a house near mine in Luteete, and he would be leaving next week for a month-long trip. Since I would be leaving in the first week of December, I made sure to knock on his door and personally say farewell. He requested that when I return back to the United States, that I not forget the people of Luteete.

Right now I am wondering how it could be possible for me to forget my experiences here. I honestly believe that I have enough life experiences here to fill a few average lifetimes. I tend to stop and gaze at things here for a few moments and reflect on my time. I look at the growing apple trees, the organized library that has progressed from having a part-time student librarian to a full-time librarian, and a functional ICT lab with eager students. I know that I will leave here with no regrets.

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Soon

1/11/15

“Goodbye Marv. See you soon!”

Those words hit me hard. I stepped off the taxi from Gulu where I had spent this past Halloween weekend with Peace Corps Volunteers. I’ve been saying goodbye to so many places recently, and I said goodbye to a lot of friends and PCV’s in Gulu. I know that I will most likely not see many of them ever again. Most things that I will do in my last 6 weeks in country will be the last time that I do them. I most likely will not see the flat plains of the West Nile, the slopes of Elgon, the matooke and tea fields of the West, or the small town of Masindi again. It’s definitely a lot of goodbyes that I have said and a lot of emotions all mixed together.

In Gulu, I spent most of my time hanging out at the Iron Donkey Café and Guesthouse. The quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches were on point, and it didn’t hurt having unreasonably fast wifi. On Saturday I had phone interview with a small solar energy company based in Kigali, Rwanda. The interview revolved around my current skills and what I could offer to the company that needed someone who knew CAD, community needs assessment reports, and local training skills. It’s hard because I still don’t know what I want to do at this crossroads in my life. I don’t know if I want to continue the whole adventuring and not settling in a semi-permanent location or go back to the United States and establish a more permanent base there.

I could go on and on about readjusting. But now, I will focus on the job applications and the goodbyes to my villagers, PCV’s, and friends here. Goodbyes hurt a lot, especially when it’s been a whole lifetime worth of experiences and impacts that end with stepping off a taxi and waving your friends as they ride away.