Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mpora Mpora

Another long day, but in the end, it was actually a pretty great one. We went back to Nazareth Vocational with the intention of teaching the girls about marketing and financial management. I will admit that I was less than optimistic about the chances of having any kind of impact on the girls after yesterday's events, and today did not start off any better.

After playing a few ice breaker games with them, we split up into groups and tried to have an interactive discussion about marketing (I had cut financial management from my group's curriculum pretty much the second it was proposed). Instead of calling it marketing, we called it "what makes a good business". In typical Peace Corps fashion, we did not lecture or give the girls any answers, but instead tried to extract their them from the girls' own knowledge and experience. We asked questions like, "When you are getting your hair dressed, why do you choose the place you do instead of one of the other 300 salons in your one square mile town?" (Aside: Uganda is packed with struggling small businesses. All of them are either salons, tailors, bars, or mini-markets.)

At first, there was mostly silence. The few answers we did get were some mumbled regurgitation of what their under-qualified instructors had drilled into them. We heard things like, "they have many combs", "they have clean fingernails", and "that is where my Mom goes" were about the extent of it. Aside from these real gems, there was in the beginning, mostly silence.

This silence, however, is not like anything I have seen in America, and is, I think, worth noting. In America, when some is asked a question, they are well aware that they are supposed to answer it. Not knowing or not wanting to answer only causes panic because they know they have to say something. They may become flushed or stammer as they search for something to say. If all else fails, a very embarrassed "I don't know" will eventually come out. Here is a different story. Children in schools are rarely asked question that what? that the teacher will not answer immediately him or herself without breaking stride. (That was what? an example of something used all the time in Ugandan English, affectionately called Uganglish). In a standard classroom size of 75-125 students, it is very easy for most students to slip between the cracks. Anyway, when we PCTs would ask them questions, they would simply keep their heads down and wait for us to move on. It did not matter how many times we repeated our question directly at any one girl. Her will was stronger than ours, and she could easily wait us out. The very odd thing to me is that there is no embarrassment on their part. Unlike us, they aren't even aware that it's an emotion they are supposed to be feeling in such a circumstance.

Mpora mpora (slowly by slowly), things began to get better. I think that will just be the way of it here. Some of the girls began to realize for what appeared to be the first time that knowing a trade alone would not make them sucessful. Things like price, quality of service, customer care, being creative, knowing what people want, and offering something unique all began to come out of their mouths, and as they spoke more, you could physically see them building in confidence. Most of the ideas were coming from just a handful of my small group of 7, Juliet and Halima in particular, but I still considered it a huge victory. At the end of the day, those two even stood up in front of all of the girls from the other groups to share what they had learned. I was so proud in that moment, not because of anything I had done, but because I had watched as those girls had come out of their shells to show themselves to be both bright and confident. Grace, my partner from the day before, was in another group, and she also stood up to share what she had learned. She had apparently gained so much confidence that she gave me her phone number and asked me to call her before I left.

Dead Aid

Despite the boredom caused by the fact that the vast of the trainees (22 of 29) have left town to begin their two week immersion stay with a current PC Volunteer (CHED, my group, is just next week), there has at least been some interesting things to think about. This week, we have been visiting a community vocational school for some field based training. The school has so many problems, and I worry that this is just an indication of some of the things I will see here in the next few years.

Nazareth Vocational School used to be entirely backed by an international organization called CFCA. This organization funded everything including all students' school fees. Last year, that organization made the decision to withdraw their sponsorship after 8 years. I have been told of the damages that arise from "dead aid" such as this, but this organization was my first real-life glimpse at exactly what the consequences are. Within one year the school has all but fallen apart. Enrollment has dropped from 90+ students to a mere 15 between final term 2009 and first term 2010. School fees have gone from 0 to 250,00 Ugandan Shillings, nearly double that of a traditional, academic-based institution (vocational schools are generally much lower than traditional). The school has plans to grow, but has no actual plan to achieve this. They teach their students technical skills, but give them no instruction whatsoever on how to use them sucessfully, basic business competencies, or how to compete in the marketplace. The students there have incredibly poor communication skills, low self-esteem, and no motivation to differentiate themselves from one another. The instructors are no better.

It is Peace Corps policy that all development should come from within the community. We are facilitators. When money or unneeded/unrequested help is given, that project may be underused, will never be sustainable, and, even worse, it creates a crippling dependence on handouts (see example above). That is why we aren't there to tell Nazareth what must be done. Of course we have ideas, and we ask pointed questions in the hopes that they may see the cause of the existing gap between how they want their organization to be and how it actually is. Almost all of our questions are met only with silence.

Thus far, that exercise has been rather fruitless. We have one more day with the school tomorrow, and I hope we can get some message through to some of them. This week we have each been partnered off with a student who has shown us the technical training they are being taught. My partner is a really sweet, young girl named Grace, and I'd like to think that we have helped her and her and at least some of her fellow students in some way before we move on.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I was informed Friday that one of my oldest friends was in a terrible accident. My understanding is that he had to be recissitated at the scene, and is still in a coma. Although the details I have received have been few and far between, it looks like he is going to make, although there are still so many concerns about his long-term well-being.

It's been a strange experience going through this. Of course I feel grief that this happened to my friend, I feel helpless because there is nothing I can do about it, and I feel frustration because I have such little detail. In the past, whenever I have experienced something like this, I have been surrounded by the tragedy. Everyone around me has, if not been feeling the same way, at least been aware and sympathetic. Even though it feels awful, you want to feel the grief. It feeds off everyone around you that feels the same way. It's the way it should feel in a time like this. Of course you would take it all back. Change everything so that the event might never happen, but you can't, so you wallow in your grief.

It's been different here. There is nothing but my own thoughts and a couple of pictures to remind me of my friend and what's going on. There is no one here to share my grief with. I have only told one person here, not because I don't think anyone else will care, but because I know that they will. They don't know my friend though, and even though these are great people, and I know their sympathy would be genuine, it just wouldn't seem right. Because of all of this, I haven't felt it the way I want to (that is to say the way I think it should feel). I also feel the distance between me and home now more than ever. I might as well be on a different planet.

I initially didn't want to write about this at all for a lot of reasons. The obvious being that it's very hard to talk or even think about, but it also just seems voyeuristic to write about something so tragic on something so public. I was worried it would feel like it marginalized the situation in some way because I know that my writing can't do justice to the levity of the situation, and that, in comparison, every other insignificant topic on this blog will pale in comparison. I talked it out with a friend from home, however, and in the end I decided to just be honest and write about what I was feeling.

All my best, Scott. I love you, and I'm so sorry I can't be by your side through this. In two years we'll have a cold one on together on me. High class this time, though. Second cheapest beer on the list.

A Boy Becomes Emanzi

I know it's only been just over three weeks, but I continue to like this place more everyday. I am getting closer to some of the PCTs, and I am starting to interact more with some of the locals. I think I will wait to speak in more detail about some of these friendships as they progress because I honestly don't feel much like journaling tonight, but there is one thing I definitely want to get down.
I killed a chicken today. It was part of our instructional session on cooking in Uganda. It wasn't something we all did, and in fact I am the only trainee in our group that this particular task fell to. If you think you are surprised by the fact that I did this, I can assure you that your shock does not exceed my own. Before any of you may start thinking less of me, I'd like to explain a little bit about why I agreed to do it. I have been eating meat all of my life, and if I am going to continue to do so with a clear conscience then I thought this was something I should be willing to face. I have often heard us meat-eaters accused of only being capable of doing what we do because we are so far removed from the source of our food that we no longer have to think about it. I guess I wanted to proove to myself that this was not the case.

To be honest, I am still not sure how I feel about the whole ordeal. On the one hand, I am glad I did it for the reason I talked about above, and I now have a new respect for exactly what goes into what I eat. On the other hand it was not at all a fun experience. In fact it was pretty terrible.

The whole ordeal went something like this: first, I stepped on the chickens pinned back wings and its bound legs, I picked up its head with my off-hand, and then I slit its throat with my other hand. I would not have enjoyed killing the animal under any circumstances, but to make matters worse I did not cut it correctly. While I thought it was bleeding out, it let out a pretty terrible squawk and began to struggle around a bit. In my mind I was in pure panic, but I tried to keep my cool. I knew that I had to put the thing of it's misery so, after allowing myself just a second for a much needed explitive, I took the knife back to it and finished the job. Richard, my language trainer and cooking instructor for the day, later told me that I initially cut a bit too high, and this caused the animal to take 5-10 extra seconds to die. I feel horrible about that, and wish I could take it back, but like my friend and fellow PCT Brian told me afterward, "What's done is done." As I said, I do feel bad about the way it went down, but in the end I am a bit proud of myself for actually going through with it. Before I got to Uganda, I never imagined myself doing something like that, and it's always a good feeling to find that you still have the ability to surprise yourself.

In the Ugandan tradition, Richard and Kabayo gave me a new name to mark the occasion. In many African cultures, whenever a person experiences a defining moment they are given a name in reference to the event. They are not nicknames, as Richard and Kabayo adamently insisted, but are just new names that are tacked onto your already existing names. This is why you see many Africans with 4-5 names. Anyway, my new name is Emanzi. It means "Brave One" or "Hero" depending on the context. I thought it was a bit much, but they insisted that it was appropriate, and added that it is just a name that means something and is not the same as just calling someone "Brave One" in English. I reluctantly agreed to the name, although I was informed that my consent was not a necessary part of the naming process. Despite my initial humility, I have to admit that it's pretty badass.

Little Things

It's a relief to realize that I can still appreciate some of the little things in life. I sometimes wonder if growing older is synonomous with a shrinking capacity for joy. As I child, I would get excited for just about anything. Staying up a few extra minutes to watch ALF, receiving any object at all that had some neon color, soft serve ice cream in a plastic Cleveland Indians helmet (I'd actually still get pretty excited about that last one). Somewhere along the way this easy excitement was lost. Boredom set in, and once it did it became more and more stubborn.

Since many of the luxuries I used to have are no longer available to me here in Uganda, I feel that tide starting to shift back. I actually rarely miss any of the amentities I enjoyed (or more accurately took for granted) back in the states, but when I do get a little sample of some luxury, it's as if I am experiencing it for the first time. The other day, my homestay mother, Gertrude, put some hot water in my bathing water, and I actually wondered aloud if there could be anything better than a warm bucket bath. Finding an internet cafe with functioning electricity, a connection that would have been slow in 1992 standards, and is swarming with computer viruses seems like an oasis. Riding to or from training without rain seems like a windfall of good fortune. On Sunday, I visited Kampala and paid the equivalent of $5 US for what was objectively a very mediocre bowl of hummus and shawarma that had been rotating on a spit for god knows how long. Despite the fact that this mediocre meal accounted for about 1/3 of my weekly living allowance, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the shit out of that bowl, and I have no regrets about such wreckless spending.

I am not suggesting that Africa, or even my experience here, has been all Mai Thais and Yahzee (did he just make a Con-Air reference?). Daily life here is hard. For most people, it's a nonstop struggle just to keep their heads above water. My life here far and away much easier than what would be considered average for a Ugandan, but it's nothing like what I was used to. What I've found, though, is that you can find joy in such simple things if you don't feel entitled to something more.

Monday, March 1, 2010

knowing no geography


Pretty much all of my life I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by so many people that genuinely care about me. From the start there has always been a familiar face right there to pick me up when I’m down or catch me when I fall. Sure, I have always continued to make new friends and form new relationships, but that safety net was always there. When I first started school way back when there was my family and my neighbors. When I went away to college , I went in with some of my best friends from high school. When I went to Luxembourg two of my best friends were there with me. In Chicago there were two great friends from my studies in Lux (now there must be a dozen of them there).

I think the Peace Corps marks the first time that I am truly trying something on my own. It’s definitely an exciting feeling, but coming into it was more than a little nerve-racking. I think I did a good job focusing on the excitement, but the anxiety was there whether I chose to admit it to anyone, or not.

I ran a fever today. It wasn’t anything too serious, but I felt like shit pretty much all day, and in Africa a fever can mean countless different things that are pretty much terrifying to even think of. I bring this up because as I sit here writing this, texts and calls from my fellow PCTs are pouring in just to check on how I am feeling. I realize now that I am not alone. A few weeks ago, I had never met a single one of these people, and yet today they are willing to take time out from what they are doing, drop a couple hundred shillings which they don’t really have just to make sure I am okay. In just a few short weeks we have already formed some very real bonds of friendship, and I couldn’t be more grateful that we have each other. I know that in a about two months we will all go our separate ways and head out to site, but I still feel encouraged. I am sure that it will take a bit more effort, but I see now that I can do this again. I think that I can continue to make friends and build relationships despite whatever barriers lay between me and my future community. I guess time will be the ultimate judge of this, but for now I am looking forward with optimism.



I had planned on going to bed without writing as nothing today seemed particularly “blog-worthy”, but as I was lying here inside of my mosquito-netted bed I remembered a conversation I had with my host dad, Festo earlier this evening. When I told him about my language selection and my probable site placement in the southwest he asked me if I was familiar with what happened near there in Rwanda in the early 90s. I said that I was aware, and expressed my utter disgust about the tragedy. He agreed that the genocide that took place there was terrible, but what has me thinking tonight is that he quickly replied that while this was bad, his opinion is that the most horrifying act of terror in his lifetime was the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC.

I will tread very carefully here because I don’t want to be misunderstood. What happened on September 11 was an awful, awful tragedy. I do not mean to take away from that at all. Still, I was shocked to hear him say this. Thinking that maybe he was saying it for my benefit, I reminded him that 800,000 people (many of them women and children) were murdered in Rwanda in a matter of weeks mere miles away from his hometown village. He agreed that what happened in Rwanda was terrible, but he stood firm that 9/11 was the worst. Trying to understand, I asked him why he thought this. While he never came right out and said it, I feel like the implications of his responses were clear.

The sad truth that I’ve already come to realize is that tragedy is a fact of life here in Africa and the people accept their plot as such. There’s a sense of fatalism that I have never seen before. As Festo was showing me his photo albums he glossed over a picture of Simon, one of his children that was lost during infancy. When I tried to express my sympathy it was quickly shaken off and I was told these kinds of things just happen. After all, he lives in a country where 300,000+ die each year from malaria, malnutrition runs rampant, HIV/AIDS infects about 1 in 10 people, and 3 of the 5 bordering nations have been host to some of the worst crimes against humanity in my lifetime. For many Ugandans, life is a daily struggle that I haven’t experience for a single day in America. He may not like any of these things, but he accepts them in his way. What he cannot accept, however, is that anything as terrible as any of that should happen thousands of miles away in a country that he has never been to, and in all likelihood will never get to see. These types of things simply do not happen in America. Africa, I guess, is a different story.

so this is the life of a muzungu


Ok, it hasn’t been too long, but already I see myself describing my experiences and what’s exciting to me here while most of you reading this are probably curious about what exactly day to day is like for me so this post will be dedicated to that.

10 weeks
8-5 Monday-Friday; 8-1 Saturday; Off Sunday
- Subjects
Language - Each trainee was selected to learn a language based on the region they are going to be in. I will be learning Runyankore/Rukiga (technically two languages, but I’m told they are 98% the same). I think there are six languages our group is being trained in.
Program - There are two programs in my group. Community Health and Economic Development (CHED) and Education (both primary and secondary). I am a CHED volunteer.
Cross Culture - Understanding differences between Ugandan and American culture.
Miscellaneous - Workshops on sanitation, gardening, living with host families, safety, healthcare, etc.

Bathing - Bucket baths… This is pretty much what it sounds like. I get my jerry-can of water, pour it into my bucket, and head outside to my families bathing area. It’s walled in, but yeah, it’s outside. I then poor cups of cold water onto myself to wash and rinse.
Laundry - Everything is hand washed in buckets and line dried. If you are thinking that this doesn’t sound too bad then you have probably never hand washed anything outside of delicates, and you almost certainly had running water to do it with. My words cannot give justice to this absolute nightmare. I will definitely be brining someone onto the payroll for this once I am at site.
Nature Calls - Known locally as long/short calls. You can figure it out. Running water is rare and toilets are even rarer. Instead we use pit latrines. Imagine an outhouse, but instead of a seat there is a 4”X 6” hole in the concrete floor that drops what must be 10 feet (judged based on sound delay…). I am going to try to attach a diagram of this.
Shaving - Get real.

Breakfast - Each trainee eats at homestay. For me, breakfast is tea, chapatti (delicious Ugandan flatbread) or bread, and a banana. I bought peanut butter the other day, and I think a PB and banana chapatti sandwich is something I could live with for quite a while.
Lunch / Dinner - Identical to each other and to every other lunch/dinner everyday of every week. Pick 3-5 of the following starches: sweet potatoes (look and taste nothing like American cousin), Irish (regular) potatoes, matooke (mashed plantain - looks like banana, but is much closer to potatoes in both taste, texture, and nutrition (or lack thereof)), cassava (read: sweet potatoes), posho (cornmeal), spaghetti noodles, and rice. Pick 1-2 of the following vegetables: cabbage, peas, greens. Pick 1 of the following proteins: beans, groundnut (African peanut) sauce, chicken sauce (infrequent) beef (infrequent). Fruit is definitely the highlight here with always fresh options of 1-2 of the following: banana, pineapple, avocado, jackfruit, papaya, watermelon, guava, and mango.

I have met some really great people already, and we get to talk a lot during training, but we don’t have a ton of time to be social outside of class as we tend not to stay out after dark for safety reasons. Usually, we will find something to do for a couple of hours after class. When this doesn’t involve studying it usually does involve hanging out at a bar. No one has really let loose yet as we are all still so new to Africa and to each other. It’s usually just one beer and then back home for dinner. Most experienced volunteers assure me that this is bound to change.

It’s actually been a little colder than I expected, but I would blame that on the rain. When the sun is out, I would say the high is upper 80s. When it’s raining the highs might be low 70s, but it feels much colder because everyone is wet and muddy from the bike ride into training. It’s rained maybe 30-40% of the days we’ve been here, and I think that is going to pick up more as we get more into rainy season.

Life of the Muzungu:
Muzungu is the word in almost all Bantu languages for white person. When any group or individual Muzungu goes anywhere we are quickly singled out for what is hopefully an obvious reason to you. This can be both a blessing and a curse. For safety issues it can be a bit of a concern. Our skin associates us with both new visitors (which we basically are as of now) and money. This basically puts a target on our backs for anyone wishing to make our pockets a bit later, although this hasn’t happened to any PC Uganda trainee or volunteer for some time. Violent crimes are even rarer here. Probably most concerning to the PCT/PCV is that our skin color will never change. Unlike America, Uganda is racially homogeneous and we will never be able to fully integrate into our communities because of this.

In my opinion, the other side of this coin far outweighs any negative aspects. Unlike what happened in other African nations, the British did a decent job during and after colonialism and Muzungus still enjoy a good reputation because of this. Unlike what you might think, Americans are actually one of the most loved people in Uganda. I’m not sure of all of the reasons behind this, but I think that both Peace Corps (pronounced “Peace Corpse” in local tongue) and Barrack Obama have a lot to do with it. Every time I ride my bike or take a walk anywhere in the village children come running out of their houses (pants optional) yelling, “Bye, Muzungu!” or “See you, Muzungu!” in the hope that we might turn our heads and wave at them or even respond with an, “Oli Otya?” (how are you?). I will try to get some video of this sometime so you can see it, but for now it will suffice to say that these kids are pretty much losing their minds at the sight of us. Even the adults are pretty amused by our presence. With maturation comes a great deal of humility that seems to be the standard in Uganda, so they do not put on quite the show that the little ones do, however they are always very eager to talk to us and flex some English skills.

my family 2.0


I’ve moved in with my host family, and so far it’s better than I could have hoped for! I am living with the Iranukunda’s, a Catholic family made up of five children, the mother, and the father...

(At this point I was writing in my journal outside when I was interrupted by my host mother Gertrude. She handed me an enormous papaya and a knife sans handle. She speaks very little English, but she made it quite obvious that she wanted me to start peeling and gutting this monstrous fruit. The Ugandans don’t have cutting boards, nor do they do anything on counters or tabletops. Instead, they hold whatever they are cutting in their off-hand and just start going at it. To no one’s surprise including my own, the entire family, the neighbors who were watching from outside of the fence, and most likely you reading this, I was absolutely terrible at preparing exotic fruit in this way. We all had quite a laugh at the muzungu failing miserably at doing the simplest of house chores.)

...Anyway, my new family is made up of Festo and Gertrude and their five kids: Innocent (21), Gloria (18), Barbara (12), Dixon (9), and Janet (6). I have yet to meet Barbara who is away at boarding school, but I am already scheming how to win my way into each of their hearts. When Innocent picked me up yesterday, he was wearing his Arsenal - Fabergas shirt. Seizing this opportunity, I decided to unload all of the English football (yeah, I am not going to call it soccer as I have already been ridiculed for this by the locals) knowledge I had on him (thanks Luke and Joshie). when I exhausted that avenue 30 seconds later, I explained to him that it was simply not a popular sport in America. He let me know that he was aware of this particular deficiency, but that he would be willing to watch any matches I cared to so long as I wanted to and was willing to cheer for Arsenal whenever they played. I am excited for both the football and the chance to bond with Inno a bit more. Festo should be easy. He speaks great English, and is always willing to chat with my about the differences between our cultures. I feel as if he has already taken me under his wing. The two young ones were also quite easy. All it took was an iPod full of American music. Dixon loves hip-hop and Bob Marley which is basically what I expected, and while Janet will listen to anything I give to her, she only dances around when I play indie dance and ska which I am fairly sure she has never heard before. Gertrude may be a bit more difficult because of both the language barrier and the separation of gender roles here. She is always smiling, though, and if the past two days is any indication, she seems to find me the most amusing whenever I am trying to help her around the house despite the fact that I’m consistently failing to do anything that could be construed as constructive. Gloria is also proving to be hard to get to know. It has only been a couple of days, but she really only talks to me or even looks at me when I am saying something directly to her. I am not sure if this an issue with gender, or if she is just being an average teenage girl.

There’s plenty more I could say, and I still haven’t even mentioned my fellow trainees, trainers, or even the town I am staying in, but I am tired. I just wanted to get some thoughts down about my first impressions while they were still fresh. For now, just know that I am doing very well.

the road might take me away...


In a matter of hours I’ll be on my way to Africa for what will undoubtedly be a life changing two years. While I expect I am about to face both triumphs and challenges unlike anything I can imagine, my mind is hardly focused on the future. Instead, I find myself looking back at everything and everyone that I am leaving behind.

I understand that my commitment to join the Peace Corps came as a shock to more than a few of you. I don’t expect that many will ever fully understand why I did this, and I am actually fine with that. What matters to me is that when it came down to it I felt all the support and love that I could have ever asked for. I know there are some out there who may think that I am running away from something, but I would never want anyone to believe that. To put it shortly, this is just something that I feel like I have to do, for better or worse. Running away implies that I am trying to get away from something, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thinking back now on my life and what I am leaving behind I am filled with so much happiness and so many fond memories. At about this point in my journal I list a lot of those memories, and while they are too many and too sappy to put here, please know that I am still thinking of them and you all everyday.

Home is always home. That means Columbus (ask my left arm), Chicago, and Oxford, but mostly it means the people I met there along the way. These next two years will be trying, but that has nothing to do with the lack of amenities or the food or anything like that. The only thing that worries me is being away from everyone that I love.

“The road might take me away, but it’s sure enough to bring me home.”

a quick note

I apologize to everyone for taking so long to get this blog going. It’s been two weeks since I left, and I know for almost everyone this is my first contact. I will try my best to be more prompt from now on, however, if I am unable to, I will write in my journal or type entries on my computer and upload them here when I can.

Before I get started, I thought I’d type a little bit about what I hope to get out of this and what I want this account to become. First and foremost I want an account of my Peace Corps service here in Uganda for both myself and for my friends and family. Unfortunately, I will not have the time or internet access to write lengthy emails to everyone I love and be as much a part of their lives as I was back in the states (sorry Mom). For those of you wishing to keep tabs on me, this is probably the easiest way for me to keep you in the loop. That way, when I do have time to email with you, I can actually have a conversation instead of me just talking at you. Second, I hope that by sharing my experiences with you, you may be able to come up with new insights and perspectives about what’s going on over here that hadn’t occurred to me. I really do value all of your input, and I think it will help me continue to learn and grow throughout this whole process. If you can learn something from this then I think that’s wonderful, but I am not writing to inspire or even to seek attention.

I am sure that in the beginning this will mostly be an account of day to day events, and I will try to always keep some of that, but my hope is to also include some cultural perspectives and attitudes that occur to me through that days events as opposed to just a record of that days events. I will try to be as honest as I can, and I know that that’s going to mean that some people aren’t going to like some of the things they read, but censoring myself is not something I care to do, or even do well when I try.