While laying down, just awaking from a nap (because that is the most productive thing I have done today, okay…lie, I have read over 100 pages but that isn’t as fun and interesting as saying napping is the only productive thing I do at site) I hear a knock at my (what can only be termed as) back door. At first I thought it was one of my supervisor’s sisters who stopped by yesterday asking for help with an application to a college in the U.S. However, that was not the case today. Today, the knock was a student in the Red Cross Link group (what they call their student Red Cross club here) at my nursing school. I was pleased to see her after working closely with her during the Red Cross Youth Camp and not having seen her since. Also present, to my surprise, was one of the administrators from the Rakai Branch office who was also present at the Youth Camp. Apparently the two have an issue that needs sorting out.
I have just barely been awake for 10 minutes when this comes to me and suddenly I feel like I have some kind of clout here. Of course, within two seconds I realize I have no decision capabilities whatsoever, but I digress. Anyhow, wrapping my head around the fact that they’ve come to me, a mzungu, for assistance in this matter took me off guard for a second or two.
The issue seems to be that the officer has asked my student to accompany him to the regional Red Cross Youth Meeting in Mukono, which is easily 5 hours away. This meeting is supposed to last two days. Now, initially, I think this is a great idea. The students here can get some ideas on activities to do as well as meet other students from other branches. Win – win, right? Well, after realizing that I have no decision making capabilities here I turn to my supervisor (and by turn I mean I call him right then and there because of course he is nowhere to be found, again). He goes on a mini-rant about the lack of communication from the branch manager as well as the lack of trust he now has in the student events they put on. The end result is that he does not want the student to go to this meeting. This is what I tell the two at my door, who then stand in silence (apparently pondering what to be done now, though it seemed slightly obvious that nothing would be happening to improve the situation), for a good 10 minutes outside my door. Finally I apologize to the two for not being able to do anything more and suggest to the administrative officer present that his branch manager should do a better job of communicating these things to either me or my supervisor (preferably both of us, since the communication between me and my supervisor often breaks down). The two leave, discussing something further which I don’t really hear because they are walking away and I am in the process of closing the door. Hopefully this situation leads to some kind of improvement in the communication style between the branch office and the Link group here (at the very least, maybe they’ll give us a week’s head’s up on things).
I have to admit, however, I am glad it isn’t just me who is frustrated with the communication (or lack of) between the higher-ups and the rest of the individuals involved (in any event, meeting, etc…). At first I was beginning to think it was just me, or just my mzungu nature. Negative, it’s frustrating for everyone.
More drama at the nursing school:
After a two and a half hour staff meeting, I have come to realize a few things:
1.EVERYONE at my nursing school is frustrated with the lack of communication, organization, and physical presence of my supervisor.
2.It seems as though the nursing staff doesn’t provide a sense of autonomy to the students.
3.There isn’t a solid evaluation system for the students to evaluate the tutors and the course material.
4.Dormitories are huge fire hazards.
5.Students who have failed (here they call it referring) cannot accept this and thus are in denial and proceed as if they have passed.
6.The staff members initially participate in the meeting just as much as students participate in class.
7.Apparently I have many foreign concepts of teaching which I MUST teach to the staff members.
8.We need to spend more time in the community.
9.Taking a semester of leave is termed a “dead semester” here.
10.I will never, ever, in the next two years, get out of praying (to Jesus that is).
In the words of one great Stephen Cormier, HERE WE GO!