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Thursday, December 8, 2011


Organization can be a frustrating concept when working in Uganda, or any foreign country for that matter. The concept of organization often differs from person to person and from group to group. During the Red Cross Youth Camp, organization seemed to be an afterthought. At the nursing school, at least superficially, there seems to be a westernized concept of organization, with schedules being made and time tables being printed. However, this is only a superficial act. Upon further analysis, it has come to my attention that all the work done to create this sense of organization is futile, as things change, often within 10 minutes of action. Even then, those changes often do not hold true.

Case in point:
Last night, at approximately 9:00 pm, I was told I would be doing a lecture, of my choice, today at 11:00 am. I discussed my lack of preparedness and explained I could only lecture on community mobilization, which luckily I had prepared on a whim out of partial boredom and interest in the subject. I was told this was fine and that I should be ready to lecture at 11:00 am. Awesome…great…yes, I was nervous, but the prospect of actually doing some potentially substantial work was overpowering my nerves.

Fast forward to 9:20 am this morning:
I received a call from my supervisor regarding the previously mentioned teaching endeavor asking if I was ready at the moment to teach. I said no, I had to print some things, so he asked if I would be ready at 9:30 am. I explained that I would not because I was prepared to teach at 11:00 am. There wasn’t much further communication as we exchanged “Okays” (mine more out of confusion than confirmation of a set plan). After hanging up, I frantically went to the computer lab and printed my notes (almost in tears out of frustration and lack of preparedness). I met my supervisor in his office, where he was meeting with two individuals (he asked me to come in regardless and sit and wait, while people came in and out of the office, lasting about 20 minutes). Finally he took me back to the computer lab to make sure that my computer was compatible with the projector, only to tell me that I would be lecturing later because there was someone else lecturing at the moment. As of 10:36 am I still have not been given any further instructions as to when I will be lecturing…

Cue frustration.

Fast forward to after lecture:
Well, I finally gave my lecture at 12:15 pm. Funny how things work out in the end. When I was finally able to “set up” (and by set up, I mean plug in my computer into the projector whose projection on the wall was barely visible due to the sunshine) I felt that maybe I would be able to turn the day around. I tried to be as engaging as I could, asking questions, trying to capture the attention of my audience. It seemed, however, that all the students wanted to do was sit and stare. I have no idea if the students got anything out of my lecture. I tried asking them questions throughout the lecture, gave examples they could relate to, but the faces never changed. There was always a stoic, almost bored expression on all the faces. None of the students took notes, only one gave me any sort of feedback unless I asked if “we were together”, then and only then would the whole class erupt in a united “yes”. At the end, I asked if there were questions (of course, there were none) and closed up shop. A couple of student clapped, some thanked me, and others just remained in their seats, quiet. I didn’t know if I was supposed to wait for them to leave first, so I just packed up my things and started packing up the projector. Finally, one student came to my side and we talked about my future lectures (though after this one I’m not sure if I even want to bother giving any more). She seemed genuinely interested in what I would “teach” next and she also helped me take the projector to the computer lab.

Maybe I engaged one mind after all…


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