I am in Uganda and so far everything is going so well! Don't want to waste too much time online so I'll quickly go through everything.
Staging in Philadelphia was a great time to reflect on the incredible commitment we have all made. All the people in the group are fantastic (I mean they are signing up for a 2-year Peace Corps stint in Uganda). I've already made a lot of wonderful friends. After an extremely long flight from JFK to Johannesburg, and then another 4 hours up to Uganda, we landed at Entebbe just at dusk. As soon as I stepped onto the tarmac on the shores of Lake Victoria, all my fears and homesickness were temporarily washed away as I stepped back into Africa. I was nothing but happiness that night.
Since then, training days have been long but productive. We've had lectures on the role of volunteers in development (emphasizing people-to-people empowerment at the grassroots level... awesome!), participatory techniques, info about Uganda and it's economic and health status, basic Luganda lessons, etc. I am exhausted by the end of the day. We just moved to Wakiso a few days ago (about 30 minutes from Kampala) and I am loving the 45 minute walk to training every morning. I'm living with a huge, wonderful host family - Dad, Mom, 6 siblings (5 have lived at home so far, but 2 are soon going to boarding school), an uncle, and a cook. They have welcomed me with open arms, are feeding me entirely too much, and have a beautiful house (even if it lacks electricity and running water). They have their own subsistence garden with matooke (plaintains), bananas, papaya, passion fruit, oranges, avocados, chickens, rabbits.... it's beautiful. I have a fantastic view every morning when I come over the crest of our hill and see the rising sun over miles of undulating hills intertwined with valleys of mist. 2 nights ago, I had a push-up contest with my family and last night the kids wouldn't let me stop taking pictures of them. I've also had such wonderful conversations with them, about everything from how muzungus (white people) blush and sunburn to how my brothers and sisters feel about caning (beating) students in school and the status of the health care system in Uganda.
The weather is so far perfect (in the 70s and sunny every day). I could definitely get used to this. The food is pretty much the same at every meal - a ton of starches (matoooke/mashed plaintain, rice, posho/maize meal, irish potatoes, sweet potatoes...), beans, sometimes meat or fruit. Already looking forward to cooking for myself at my site.
I am learning the language Runyankore-Rukiga (I'd never heard of it either), which means I will be living somewhere in the beautiful mountainous southwest after training. I couldn't be more excited! I have a great language teacher and only 3 other students in my class (although 8 of us are learning Runyankore-Rukiga, pronounced Roon-yawn-core-a Roo-chee-gah).
More updates soon! (and by soon, I mean within a week or two. Not enough time in the day to get to an internet cafe very often!).