Sanyu: Finding Joy
A reflection of my 7 months in Uganda:
In August, 2019, I set out for Entebbe, Uganda as an English Language Fellow with The US Department of State. I remember telling my husband, “I’m definitely not leaving early. I’ll make it all 10 months”. Fast forward seven months to a global pandemic. On a Friday morning, I got the notification that fellows were being sent home due to travel restrictions and the growing health risk around the world. I would be leaving Uganda & my fellowship would end on the following Tuesday. That gave me four days to pack, wrap-up my work, say goodbye, and try to process. I was able to do those first three, but it took a long time to process (maybe I still am).
At work at Nkumba University, my colleagues gave me a local name: Sanyu. Sanyu is “happiness” and “joy” in Luganda. Not only was it an honor to be given a Lugandan name, it was a privilege to be given such a sweet and positive name. A secretary told me it’s because I smiled everyday and greeted them. It’s easy for me to wonder what I could have done with 3 more months or question if my fellowship was successful. But, I try to focus on “Sanyu”: I was able to be part of a community.
So with joy, I list the things I was able to do rather than focus on what I didn’t get to finish:
- Led seven presentations / workshops
- Organized an education conference at the university with teachers from seven local schools in attendance.
- Taught classes in the School of Education
- Helped facilitate the donation of books to Nkumba University English department and a local elementary school
- Created instructional materials
- Traveled to Tanzania
- Traveled to Senegal
- Visited and hung out in airports in Ethiopia and Togo (this counts and both have stories!)
- Visited two national parks in Uganda
- Went gorilla trekking!
- Visited an island on Lake Victoria that was a reserve for chimpanzees
- Learned about local fabric, clothing, and visited ethical labor shops
- Raised $1100 for Dressember wearing local, Ugandan dresses
- Learned some Luganda and tried to greet everyone haha
- Traveled to a friend’s village and stayed with their family for a couple nights. One of my favorite experiences!
- Learned a lot about myself and grew as a teacher so much!
- Made some really great friends and relationships!
Half-way through my fellowship, but program asked me to make this video of my professional and personal life. I’ve added it here if you’d like to take a look: click here.
I can’t end this without saying a huge THANK YOU. So many of you supported me through this whole journey. I’m so thankful.
What’s next? I have no idea, but I’m ready 🙂