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Friday, May 21, 2010

First Impressions

If I were being perfectly honest, my Ugandan impression as we walked out of the airport was one of the overwhelming, sweltering heat and the immediate onslaught of insects. As the night went on and we got more comfortable and onto the bus, I definitely cooled down both mentally and physically. I don’t know what it was that I noticed first – maybe the immense blanket of dark night sky, the particular smell (that of bonfire mixed with salt and the scent of the city), or the fact that the Ugandan community was still bustling despite the late hour – but needless to say I spent that first bus ride immersed in the act of trying to absorb as much of the Ugandan countryside as possible. Despite the fact that the open window was blowing cold air on me, to the point of raising goose bumps all up and down my arms, I simply could not pull myself away.

While sitting on that bus seat in the dark, I tried to figure out what it was about the countryside that had me so captivated. Originally, I thought that it was the fact that I was in a new country – one strange and completely different from my own, but as time went on I realized that it wasn’t because my surroundings were outside of my ordinary. It was because despite the fact that everything was new and different to me, they were things that were completely ordinary for others. Driving past the Ugandan landscape and citizens, I only saw a slight glimpse of their lives and even though their way of living seems so out of the ordinary for me, I was so captivated because their day to day lives were being laid out in front of me just on the other side of that window.

After meeting the MUBS students, this captivation was simply enhanced. I learned about their lives and their communities, their likes and their dislikes. I learned bits and pieces of what living life in Uganda was like and as the events of the day pressed on, I learned about the culture even more.

In the end, despite the fact that this course is about sustainable development in Uganda, for me it is about the people here. This is more important to me because in the end, all development is implemented for the benefit of the people. Their day to day lives are affected by the development of this country and that is why sustainability is so important for their community.

-Katrina Widener


  1. I agree with many of the things you said. It was such a surreal feeling as we experienced the culture for the first time. Even now, a few days into our trip, it hasn't really set in that we are in Uganda, Africa. I too was struck by the people. Our contact with the MUBS students has been nothing but positive. They are courteous, respectful, and eager to learn from us. I hope we can all embrace the opportunity to learn from them as our journey continues.

  2. I would also have to agree with the above remarks. It was an intense 8,000 plus miles of travel, moving throuh 8 time zones, but getting here was just the beginning of the 3 weeks our group would have to learn and soak in everything from the experience in Uganda. Although we haven't even been here a week, I feel I have learned so much from the new culture, and getting to know the MUBS students has been a privilege. I am so looking forward to traveling across more of this country, and I know with each step more doors will open for us to learn and develop our understanding of Uganda.

  3. I am also amazing that we are here and learning about a life that is so normal and natural to the people of uganda. I also would like to comment on some of the things that remind me of home. Other than the corn that I see in places I noticed that they enjoy the night life, they watch sports together and they enjoy having conversations at meal time. Even though these are little things I know that somethings in life are the same everywhere you go. One of the MUBS students told me about her experiences living in Uganda and that even though they are a poor country, they are happy people because they do not know about any other way of living than their own. I hope to learn more about Uganda and their life styles as we continue our journey.

  4. I also noticed how dark the sky was and that there were no street lights or lamps outside the airport. I was reminded of a campground in the United States, especially because of the smoky campfire smell like Katrina already stated. The heat and humidity make me appreciate the air-conditioning back home so much more now. I also miss the hot showers and clean bathroom facilities which also remind me of a campground.

  5. As Katrina said we arrived in Uganda when it was dark at. My first impression differs because I really did not realize that I was truly in Uganda until the morning when we were meeting the MUBS students. My first impression of the MUBS students was a great one. They were so informative and understanding to all the questions and concerns that we had. A large part of my conversations with them this day was about education. They talk passionately about what they want to do and it seems that most are going into entrepreneurship or business. They said business is the easiest job to get in Uganda and it is the fall back for those that do other degrees first and don’t make it such as those who are lawyers. They said that most Ugandan’s try to become entrepreneurs because they are able to create work for themselves and several other people unemployed in Uganda. They also mentioned that they are encouraged to do this. I felt that this was my first experience of many that showed how this generation of Ugandan’s are directly effecting the sustainable development of the economy of Uganda.