Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Got Some Great News!

After being told that I had not received a scholarship, I was informed via email in a little Internet cafe in Rwanda that I did in fact get a scholarship and will be able to attend a 2-year masters in Europe to study tropical forestry!! I'm a very very lucky girl!

I will be starting in Dresden Germany in October of this year and will be doing a field course in either Costa Rica or French Guyana to start off the summer. For the second year specialization in agroforestry I'll be going to North Wales to a little place called Bangor... one of the most isolated places in the whole of the UK. It still hasn't really sunk in that I'll be getting money to study something I love in Europe for two years, I feel so unbelievably fortunate! And for now I'll have to start learning some German (although school will be entirely in English, thank god!).

The picture above is the view from a lodge we stayed in for a night in Rwanda. From one spot we could clearly see 6 volcanoes and two large lakes! It was absolutely breathtaking. I'll post the other photos on my picture site now.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Environmental Awareness Competition Success!

On Friday the Environmental Awareness Competition between primary schools was held in Kayunga district. It was a huge success, and a great relief after the sports tournament I helped to plan previously. The children were great and everyone was really getting into it!

Five primary schools and one high school (all dressed in different brightly coloured uniforms) competed in 4 categories all focusing on the environment: Song, Creative Dance, Original Composition, and Drama. Although most of the performances were in Luganda it was apparent to me that the children were taking the environmental messages seriously. My friends from the Agency for Environment and Wetlands came along and gave an information session, and we ended the day by planting a grafted mango tree in the school yard and sending the kids off with seedlings to be planted on their school compounds.

Thanks again to everyone back home that contributed to the fund that make this event possible! I can't even express to you how far that money ended up going! I'll be writing an article for the UCA quarterly publication "The Cooperator" in hopes of encouraging other schools in Uganda to hold similar events.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trees on the Brain

Well I'm halfway through my weekend tree blitz.....and I've reached 64 so its coming along. I'm trying to get 100 species finished before I have to assemble it all and distribute the information to each of the youth co-operatives under the youth project.

The trees out here are very impressive! So many elaborate adaptations in tropical plants. They make our temperate flora look quite mondane. I sure hope they accept me into this tropical forestry program for next year!!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Successful Seven Hills Classic

Over the weekend I competed in the first annual "Seven Hills Classic" Ultimate Tournament in Kampala. As a member of the organizing committee for the tournament I couldn't help but be skeptical about the outcome considering my experience with tournaments in this country - but I was happily surprised when everything went super smoothly! The weather was perfect (in fact it was so good that I've already started to peel), the fields at the International School Uganda were beautiful, and the games were close and was a great weekend!

The team I was playing on, the Kabakas, was a great bunch. It was captained by Chris and Nathan who are both very experienced and provided great leadership. The most exciting aspect for me was that as a group of males and females of different ages from many different countries we were able to come together and play well and fairly as a team. That's what allowed us to win the tourney undefeated.

We all have Paige (coach) to thank as she put an enormous amount of work into both organizing the tournament and teaching us to love the game every Sunday afternoon at practice. I'm definitely hooked on Ultimate already and can't wait to play a tournament in England on my way home!

Monday, February 5, 2007

A very Tough Decision

After a ridiculous amount of consideration, I have decided not to extend my internship with UCA. Instead I will be finishing up work during the first week of March, traveling around Uganda, Rwanda, and hopefully to Ethiopia, and then heading back home....after a visit to England if at all possible! I was reluctant to end in March because I didn't want to "give up" (especially after our disastrous tournament experience), but after thinking it through I feel that I can accomplish a lot in my last month with UCA, and then move on to other things. I will be finishing up my book of tree species information and working with environmental organizations to organize some trainings for youth co-operative groups. Also I will be involved in organizing an environmental song, dance and drama competition between primary schools of Buyobe Kayunga at the end of the month which will be really exciting. I absolutely love Uganda and it will be VERY hard to leave this beautiful country and all the great people I've met here - but sometimes the difficult decision is the right one. I honestly plan to come back someday in a different capacity.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Floods of Chocolate Milk

When I awoke this morning, the skies were dark and thunder could be heard off in the distance. Luckily I was able to board a taxi (matatu) just before the rain began to fall... and boy did it ever fall!! Given the hectic nature of our weekend I have been in no rush to get to work this week. So instead of stressing about how long it was taking to get to work, I sat back and enjoyed the storm.

It was raining so hard that we needed to pull over for 20 minutes to wait it out. In an instant the streets went from dry and pot-holled to flooded with chocolate milk. Women rushed about with bags over their hair to prevent getting wet and the taxi leaked everywhere. By the time my taxi reached downtown (over an hour later) the rain had mostly subsided, and I made my way to the office...where the power was out.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Learning and Moving On

Well, we are now in the post-tournament phase of our internships, and I couldn't be more happy to have it behind us. Our "Playing for Awareness" Sports Tournament on Saturday was a complete disaster (at least in our oppinion), but I learned more in one day than I have over the course of the last few months. It was extremely disheartening to see how demanding and ungrateful everyone was, and even how dishonest people became when a bull was at stake. It was going so badly that at one point I had considered not extending my internship, but now that I have had the opportunity to cool off a bit, I realize that I need to overcome the problems we faced, and actually get some environmental information across before I pack up and head home.

So now I am switching gears and will be starting to focus on assembling a book of information on tree species to distribute to farming co-operatives as part of the environmental trainings I would like to organize. Also I will be using the money that I raised over the holidays back home to fund an environmental drama and song competition between school groups in March. Thank you again to everyone that contributed to the fund, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

It is from our failures not our successes that we learn the most!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not So Very Far Away!

I decided today to join the modern world.... and start a blog. I never imagined that moving to Africa would inspire me to get my first mobile and start a blog!

Now I'll be able to post little observations as I make them rather than writing a massive bulk email after months of procrastination. I'll even try to include a picture or two along the way...

See, I'm really not so very far away!