My internship at Ministry of Education and Sports was unforgettable. More than one week has already passed since I came back from Uganda but every memory is still vivid in my mind.
Actually I was really nervous in the start because I had a negative impression on the countries in Africa. But it totally changed. I found the people so nice and amazing.
What I was doing during the internship is conducting surveys in primary and secondary schools in Kampala. I conducted surveys with 200+ students in each 4 primary and secondary schools to clarify an impact of women’s education on future child schooling.
First, I made a presentation to the staffs working at gender unit to make it clear what I wanted to do during this internship. And then my boss required me to make questionnaire and helped me to make it. Second, I had to pick up schools in which I conducted surveys randomly but my boss assisted me. Third task was getting permission letters to conduct surveys in school from the city authority. It was not difficult.
After these processes, I finally could conduct surveys in school. I went to each school to explain about my research. I asked children to bring my questionnaire back home. Their mothers were respondents to fill my questionnaire. The pupils were very curious. But things didn’t go as planned. A head teacher refused to assist me because my questionnaire was not good as she expected. And some children lost my questionnaire or forgot to bring it. Some mothers didn’t answer completely and it made the analysis difficult. These things made my research quite challenging but thanks to immense support of the coworkers, I could achieve it.
Life in Uganda was not easy. When it comes to poor infrastructure I don’t like Uganda. Tap water sometimes stopped and black out happened so I couldn’t take a shower sometimes. And I got sick and had to see a doctor three times.
But I am really happy that I chose Uganda as my destination. It was great to discover a country that is so different from my own. I learnt a lot about Uganda in general, about the family structure, the traditions and the culture. I felt that we Japanese could learn a lot from how close Ugandan families are and how nicely they treat their guests. I enjoyed Ugandan food very much, even though my stomach didn’t. When you go to Africa from Japan, it is sort of a reality check: I have seen extreme examples of poverty and being deprived of basic things such as education and sanitary living conditions, that I have never seen anywhere else. Even when you are in Kampala which is a beautiful city, you can’t quite forget that you are in a developing country. But the situation is not as bad as many people might imagine, you can find everything you need, there are very good roads and cars, and it is also a big surprise when you go shopping, cause most of the Japanese and western brands are there.
If you have different colored skin and especially if you are a girl, you will find that you are in the center of attention and the common people on the streets will stare at you shamelessly. They might even stop you to ask your name or to take a picture together. This was sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, but I had to get used to it. Also, get used to the traffic – after experiencing it in Uganda, you will find traffic in Japanese cities very calm.
Uganda is a country of diversity, and the six weeks I spent there were not quite enough to see all of it, let alone understand it. I understand it a little but much more time would be necessary to get a complete picture. One thing is for sure, it is very much worth visiting if you’re looking for beautiful nature, diverse and lively cultural life and learning about the endlessly rich history of a place.