Today is the last day at homestay before we move on to Kampala for our Swearing In Ceremony. In just a few more days, I'll no longer be considered a Trainee, but a Volunteer! After only 10 weeks of training for 9 hours a day, six days a week you too can be qualified to give away two years of your work for free! It's a little bittersweet leaving this place. On the one hand, I am ready to be out living on my own, and on the other, I am really going to miss the support of all of the friends that I've made here. I will still see some of them once or twice a month, and I am sure we will text and call frequently, but of course it's not nearly the same. Anyway, I don't feel like thinking up a new post, but since I had to write and read a speech today during our homestay thank you ceremony, I figured I would share that with you all.
Ten weeks ago, we Trainees came to this country as strangers in every sense of the word. The land. The language. The culture. The people. We didn't even know eachother. We may have come here with some preconceived notions about what life was going to be like here, but the fact of the matter is we had no idea. We were strangers in a strange land (yep... I said it.). Bush babies. Yet from the moment we stepped off the plane in Entebbe, someone has been there to show us the way.
At first it was the staff and administration. These people have given up so much of their own lives, many of them away from their homes and families, to be here with us. Each one of them consistently puts in so much time, energy, and effort, and exhibits so much patience. I can't imagine what it must be like to try to teach a language to someone who is litterally coming in with the knowledge of a two year old, or trying to tell an American that just because no one has shown up to one of your meetings that was supposed to start an hour ago, that doesn't mean no one is GOING to show up. They've been our instructors, our counselors, and our friends for the last ten weeks. Always going above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of them. Alyways putting us first.
After the long plane ride and the few short days in Lweza, it was time for yet another new beginning, here, in Wakiso. Since we arrived, the community has welcomed us with open arms, and that is especially true of each one of our homestay familes. You have invited us into your homes, looked after us, cooked for us, and put up with our odd American ways. It takes a very special kind of person to not only take a total stranger into their home, but to welcome them as if they were family. I haven't traveled the world over, but I have been many places both outside and within the United States, and I can promise you that you don't find the type of people that we have found here just anywhere.
And then there's the rest of you guys, my fellow trainees. We made it! Ten long weeks down. Two short years to go. You guys are an amazing group of people, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. All 29 of us who came to country are still here, and even amongst the adventurous people Peace Corps is famous for, that is a very rare accomplishment. I've seen you all supporting eachother and supporting me every step along the way. I know that without you, I couldn't have gotten very far. Charlene (for those of you reading Charlene is a Trainee and one of my best friends here) said it first, but I am going to steal it from her here - we are a world away from wherever we called home before, but we have eachother here, and we are a family.
When I look around here, I am incredibly encouraged to see each of you. Each one of us is unique in our own way. We come from different places, cultures, and we have different beliefs, and yet by being here I feel like I can say that all share some important bonds. We believe that our lives can be richer when we share them with people who are different than ourselves. We believe that there are more important things than only looking out for ourselves. We believe that what we do with this life really does matter. That although we may not change the world, it might just be a brighter place for our having been here.
So yeah, that was my speech. It's just a paraphrase of what I actually said, but that's the best I can remember it. I am fully aware that it's a bit over-the-top, but that's what's called for by the pomp of Ugandan ceremonies. Having said that, I don't want you to think it's any less sincere.