A day in the life of learning Lusoga while being a Masanja
The first couple weeks of Lusoga lessons and homestay occurred as expected and each day without fail has passed as scheduled:
- 6:30am: Wake up and make my way to the latrine and bathing area.
- 6:45am: Dump a cold bucket of water over my head to:
- Wake up
- Help rid me of caffeine abuse
- 7:05am: Make my way inside the house to a full breakfast including either bread, bananas, and meat or spaghetti noodles, but always with a mug of ginger, lemongrass tea and fresh passion fruit juice. Additionally, a bag is packed with my actual breakfast for when I get to class. The food in front of me is just a light bite to give me enough energy to walk to school.
- 7:15am: My watch alarm reminds me to take my anti-malarial pill.
- 7:35am: I meet two colleagues Emily and Mary at the Mosque roughly 200 meters from the Masanja’s house and we begin our 30-minute scenic route to school filled with fields, hills, and trails.
- 8:05am: Walk into class 5 minutes late and joyfully explain our tardiness is due to greeting and practicing our Lusoga with neighbors and kids on our way to class. True story.
- 8:15am – 5:00pm: Lusoga Lessons (to be explained another time)
- 6:00pm: Reach home to *help with cooking
- 8:30pm: Eat dinner with family
- 9:15pm: Fall asleep as I’m laying down in bed
Filled, exhausted, enjoyable, challenging, rewarding, difficult, comedic would be the simplest and easiest ways to describe how the first week went. Although there were mental, physical, and emotional challenges, there was never enough stress or anxiety built up to create a breaking point. This is mostly due to my family being the perfect people to hang out with in the evening and rid me of any frustrations that may have developed throughout the day.
Above I mentioned I helped with cooking. Sometimes I help peel a few potatoes, or cut a few vegetables, but most of the time I just sit next to the stoves with Mami and Maureen to go over with them what I learned in school that day and observe how Zeitu, Shafik, and Naigaga help make the house run smoothly without anything being asked of them. This time “helping” cook is an extended period of time where I get to just sit and chat. We talk about Lusoga. We talk about Uganda. We talk about the Unites States. As the night gets later and we get closer to meal time, Maurice comes home from his internship and Derrick arrives home from work.
Dinner is served inside the sitting room where the boys share the couches and table to eat and the rest of the family huddles on the floor mats all facing the TV that is either playing once of two things, Ugandan music videos or a soap opera. We eat in near silence as it is impolite to chatter incessantly while eating, but as people start finishing their meals the volume level raises. I’m always the first to tap out after only finishing half of my plate. At this point I get playfully ridiculed about my inability to eat enough food. Derrick usually takes a bit of my meal to show and teach me how to eat “like and African,” but once he falls back into the couch exasperated the remaining food is passed down to Maurice who never fails to show both of us (Derek/Derrick) how to truly eat like an African. At this point the energy builds as we joke around about how much we think he can eat that night.
After the eating show is over, the young kids kindly bus the plates and get started prepping the dishes to be cleaned the following morning before daybreak. This is when the night gets interesting for me. With my exhaustion kicking in, severely, I watch as the family begins ignoring the television and starts discussing various topics and joking around with one another. Although my Lusoga knowledge is negligible, I can still tell when someone is getting picked on by the rest of the family. Once that person has had enough they exclaim some sort of joke and the attention gets misdirected to the next person in line. This cycle goes on and on with laughter and humility until I decide this is enough laughter, my stress is gone, and I can peacefully go to sleep. I stand up and say my farewells to everyone on my way to the room. Everyone kindly greets me a good rest and as I leave the volume in the room picks up and the banter continues.