And Flying is a Beautiful Thing
I’ve begun the second aspect of my job here, teaching the girls at the Nwoya Girls Academy. We are doing some art and creative writing. But as I have found out, as a teacher you don’t always fit as much into a lesson as you originally planned for. So I am reevaluating my lessons and planning a little less than I originally thought could fit. But it has been fun so far. Although a slight difficulty comes with the combination of my American accented English and the fact that many of the girls do not speak English fluently. So I have been trying to figure out ways of teaching that are less vocal and more visual. The local teachers will help me with translating, but it is not so ideal to be teaching through another’s interpretation of what you are saying. So I try and use examples and my expressions more often than not. The girls are quiet and like to get lost in their drawings even though I have other things planned. But that’s ok; if they want to get lost in drawing I am surely not the one to stop them. I think it’s great. I am trying to learn their names, although there are around 80 of them. They have a local name followed by their Christian name. Many go by their Christian name, which makes it easier for me to pronounce and remember. But I am trying to learn their local names also. What normally happens though is I ask them to tell me their local name slowly so I can try to repeat it, then they laugh and laugh at me when I simply butcher it. Not the most encouraging way to learn their names, but I am trying.
This week marks my halfway point. Not the most comforting thought since I feel as though I need more time in this place. But then again I also feel as though I have been here for some time, all in a good way. Now that the girls are done with their running competition I am not training them for track and field. We are trying to start up another physical activity, maybe soccer, but they are in midterms now so it is on hold till next week. Since I haven’t been running twice a day with the girls I have been trying to find some time to run on my own. On Sunday I ran out the other direction, towards the national park. It was nice, as I ran further the huts became fewer and fewer till it was just me and the red dirt road going on forever in front of me. I ran until I reached the park, and then realized I still had the whole way back to go. Since the sun was turning the horizon pink and orange and the cicadas were singing I thought I better hurry back. I don’t mind running as the sun is setting and the day is ending because it is cooler and calm, but everyone seems to be worried a large animal is going to eat me at this time. Since the national park is home to many wild animals they warn me not to go far into it otherwise I might encounter a lion or leopard or elephant or something. I want to see one, but I guess alone at dusk probably isn’t the best time to encounter one.
I feel that often times in our blogs, our Facebook posts, or Instagram pictures we portray only the best of our situations. And often times this is true because traveling and engaging yourself fully in new experiences with new landscapes, new people, and new customs is the most rewarding, introspective and beautiful of things. But what makes the experience of traveling stand out is the challenges you face during it and how you navigate them learning and growing as a result. These challenges do not always consist of warm feelings, breathtaking sunsets, and beautiful butterflies. Rather sometimes these challenges leave you bug bitten, confused and frustrated. Or they leave you curled up somewhere silent and alone trying to transport yourself back home with the power of your mind and some pictures. Sometimes the sound of a family member’s or friend’s voice makes you choke up and a hot tear run down your cheek because you didn’t realize how much you had been missing something familiar, something that made sense or someone who knew you completely. Sometimes these challenges make you want to run yelling through the streets because it seems so wrong or different. And so you do, minus the yelling, because a friend you’ve made sees you sitting frustrated in a corner and so picks you up and tells you to run with them through the market and then frustration turns into you running and laughing through the night with someone who has only known you for a couple of weeks, but somehow understands exactly what you need right when you need it most. To me, the beauty of traveling comes from these challenges, the contrast of the difficult situations and the beautiful ones and how they are all interconnected and cannot exist without the other because it is them together that cause you to grow. The beauty is this growth and the independence you find from it. The way you learn to supplement or go without the things you thought to be essential back home, but do not have here. The harmony and simplicity you find from having to be with just yourself and truly learn to listen, watch and observe because everything is a new mystery you must learn to navigate in order to continue. I find what is rewarding is the way you find yourself having to redefine and reorient your understanding and perception of things. And all of these things together give you a sense of empowerment because the world is so vast, so diverse and so inviting you cannot help but dive headfirst into it.