Settling in Kampala, Uganda

Greetings from Kampala! I am in Uganda this summer, doing my internship with an international organization. Uganda is not very close to the U.S. (obviously!). I left Philly for the JFK airport at 5:30 AM and flew to Doha. After a one-hour quick break in the Middle East, I took another flight to Entebbe, Uganda. It took almost 20 hours, but in fact, I did not feel that it was that long. I was super tired after finishing all the assignments and packing, so I slept quite well during my flights. Also, last time I went back to my home in Japan during the winter break, it took almost 24 hours…this experience seems to strengthen my patience with a long trip.

Since this is my first visit to Africa, I am completely new for everything in Uganda. However, luckily, my friend, who used to work for the same organization in Kampala as an intern last year, gave me a lot of information before my arrival. At the Entebbe airport, I exchanged my money (1US$=3650Ugandan Shilling) and got a SIM card. An interesting fact in Uganda is that we have to pay a tax for using social network services (such as Facebook)! The taxi drive from Entebbe to Kampala was almost an hour, and I finally arrived at an Airbnb in the afternoon.

The Airbnb that I am staying for the first ten days is very close to the office and cozy except its slow wifi. (Of course, there are quite a lot of small bugs in the night…but I have been trying not to care and succeeded so far.) I will move out soon because I found a room to move in, thanks to a Japanese officer who also worked for the organization. The population of Japanese international development workers in Uganda is not significant, but maybe this is why they are very close. I appreciate their help with settling into a new life here.

My internship is in the education section of the organization. The first week of the intern was supposed to be an orientation, but it was actually (thankfully) a little bit intense! The organization is currently in the process of renewing its country program, which is the core document for the organization’s work for five years from 2020, in collaboration with the government of Uganda and other partners. Therefore, there were a LOT of internal and external meetings going on. It was fortunate for me to get a chance to attend these meetings because I got to understand current issues in the Ugandan education sector and how the organization, the government, and the other partners try to tackle with them. Besides, through attending these meetings, I learned how a big picture of the organization is drawn with listening to various opinions from various counterparts.

First-day lunch at a cafeteria in the organization. It’s buffet style costing about $2.

My supervisor is very helpful and flexible, saying that he wants me to learn as much as possible from this internship and to tell him what I want to learn. We will discuss the detail of my work next week, so I am looking forward to doing more work at the office and learn more about the organization’s programs. The colleagues in the office are very passionate and welcoming. Many officers who usually work in field offices came to Kampala for the meetings, so I had chances to talk with them as well. I think one of the good things when working for an international organization is that there are people from all over the world. I met with not only Ugandan staff but also international staff from very different places. I am hoping that I will have more time to talk with my colleagues during this internship.

Because of a jet lag, I could not have much time to explore the city in the past week. I want to explore more in Kampala. Also, Uganda is known for the beautiful national parks with lots of kinds of animals. I am hoping that I will have a chance to visit there.

Extreme trafic jam in Kampala

So, now, I am feeling that I am settling in Kampala and I am very excited about coming experiences during this summer. I want to appreciate Dr. GK, Dr. Neuman, Lauren, and my colleagues at the organization, who realize this internship. I would like to learn as much as possible (as my supervisor said!) and deepen my knowledge and thoughts on educational development as well as a vision of my career.

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