Showing posts from June, 2016

A pause for some metacognitive reflection

This week I crossed the halfway mark for my time in Uganda: 3.5 weeks down, 3.5 to go. And so, it seems an appropriate time to stop and reflect a bit more upon my learning so far. My class days usually go like this: I arrive around 9 AM, and spend several minutes greeting and chatting with Amelia and Simon in the office. Our conversation is informal and full of laughter – and all in Luganda, of course. Simon oftentimes says something very quickly and then stops and looks at me skeptically, as if he’s purposefully quizzing me: “Otegedde?” (Have you understood?) Ever the teacher, he is. After a couple minutes of that, Amelia and I walk down the hall to our small classroom. I sit in a hard wooden chair and Amelia either sits next to me at the table or she stands at the board. We usually begin by just talking about what’s happened since we last saw each other – what we both have done, what the weather is like, what I saw on my journey to class that morning. These

Fridays at Uganda Crafts

Early each Friday morning, dozens of basket-weaving artisans gather at the doors of Uganda Crafts 2000 Ltd., Uganda's most established fair trade craft business. I was lucky enough to spend time working there in 2006 and again in 2008-09. The staff and artisans were my first introduction to life in Uganda, and my time with them has informed much of my academic work. The relationships I've built with the artisans - who do not speak English - are a huge part of my motivation for learning Luganda. When I arrived in Kampala (three weeks ago already!), I realized that this community of people could easily be a major part of my learning during my time in Uganda. I rearranged my schedule with my teacher so that I could spend Fridays at Uganda Crafts. I gave the idea a trial run last week, and today started in earnest. There are many benefits to chatting with the Uganda Crafts artisans: - First, I know them and they know me. We've been speaking to one another through transla


This week I've been asked why?  an awful lot. "So, why  are you studying Luganda?" Asked the (very nice) hotel owner at the place I visited over the weekend. "And why is your research about Uganda??" "Why Luganda? It's not a very useful language. I mean, Italian's more useful!" Said one of my Italian housemates. "Lwaki osoma Luganda?" (Why are you studying Luganda?)  asked one of the artisans at Uganda Crafts, my former place of work. The curiosity, and to some extent, the skepticism, makes sense to me. So few foreigners put any work into learning Luganda, or any of the other local languages here. Uganda's status as the most ethnically diverse country in the world means that a wide range of languages proliferate, and though Luganda is dominant, it reaches a fraction of the total population of Uganda. I am reminded of this fact frequently. My second weekend here, my husband and I went to northern Uganda to visit some fri

making it real

My first two weeks of Luganda classes are almost coming to a close - and here I'd been planning to blog once a week. Oops. Time flies! I am really enjoying my time as a student in a "formal" classroom setting - informal as it really is - and have been getting much more joy than I could've imagined out of four hours of study a day. It helps that my teacher, Amelia, is wonderful. She is warm and easy-going and clearly very committed to her craft. Our four hours together a day fly by, because it mostly feels like I am spending time with a friend and learning a lot on the way. For the first couple of days together, Amelia was trying to get a sense of what language skills I had already acquired. She started speaking to me only in Luganda immediately, speaking more slowly or repeating when necessary. And we flew through a series of introduction-like sections. "Do you know greetings?" She'd ask, in Luganda. I would respond that I did, and then she w