Thursday, April 16, 2009

"I Say Goodbye and You Say Hello"

It is always amazing to be completely submerged into a different culture. After living in Uganda for over a year I have come to realize one difference that unfolds with every interaction - I say goodbye and they say hello.

In Buganda culture, greetings are paramount. The typical greeting seems to go on indefinetely.

"Oli otya"
"Gendi, Oli otya"
"Belungi, Jeebale"
"Kale, Jaabale Ko"

etc. etc. etc. This literally means, "Hello, how are you?" "Fine, How are you?" "Fine." "Thank you for the good work." "OK." "Thank you for the work." "OK."

After this continues on for a while, you can finally say, "Do you have mineral water?" or address whatever is needed.

Coming from the fast paced western world, I would just walk into the store and ask for water bypassing all the formalities that consume so much time. But I have quickly learned how rude this behavior is, have changed my evil ways, and despite the rush I may be in I politely greet every one and ask about the day.

However, at the same time, goodbyes hold little importance. People will just hang up the phone without saying "goodbye." Often, I will be in the middle of a two part conversation and they will hang up and I'll still have things to say. If I drop some one off, they will usually just get out of the car and walk away. If I leave a location, no one seems to notice...

I often stand there dismayed by what has happend. Are they mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Why didn't they say "goodbye?" You see, for me, it can often take 5 or 6 sentences to complete my fairwells (if not more) and when some one cuts me off without offering me this opportunity I feel as though the conversation is not completed or as though something is missing.

As I have learned to politely greet others, I have learned not to take offense when I feel as if my parting routine was ended prematurely and have adjusted to this cultural difference along with countless others.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ensonya wa

This simply means "forgive me" in Luganda. A phrase I hope you will take to heart as I ask for your forgiveness in my lack of posts to my blog since I have returned to Uganda. I promise to do better, but as they say in Uganda, "A promise is a debt," so I am not foolish enough to promise daily posts (mostly because of my unreliable internet connections because I certainly have lots to tell). But I can promise to try harder, I hope you understand. I also apologize because there will rarely be photos as my connection is too slow to upload pictures.

Things have been very hectic since my return to Uganda. What was supposed to be a six week trip to finish St. Kizito Primary School and begin plans for the next school construction project turned into a 9 month (at least) journey through the establishment of a new children's home. I am proud to say, that despite the many setbacks that we have endured, the children who were once neglected and abused are now safe, healthy and happy at BULA Children's Home.

My goal in the next few posts is to update you on everything that has occured over the last few months in regards to the school construction, the children's home, and life in Uganda. Please keep checking the blog and I will not let you down!!!