The Border

When I first heard that there was a chance that I would be able to spend a portion of my internship in Uganda, I eagerly and immediately asked my director, “How can I make that happen?” She kind of laughed and said that it would only work if it made sense with the research that I was assigned.

My research, by the way, is working to find the most effective method(s) to disseminate or to spread information about new agricultural technologies, specifically push-pull related technologies. Once the most effective methods of sharing information are identified, I want to find how these methods differ between men and women. Lastly, (this is where the “Uganda Edition” comes in) I want to assess any differences that are found between farmers living in Kenya and farmers living in Uganda. The significance of my research is simple – ICIPE, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, is working on game-changing and vital technologies for subsistence farmers. But unfortunately, without means to share these technologies throughout Kenya, Uganda, and beyond, the methods are inconsequential.

I woke up around 4:30 am this morning to finish packing, say good-bye to my favorite guest center employees, and grab some breakfast. Our vehicle left ICIPE in Mbita around 6 am. We were officially Uganda bound. Something about an open road and a new destination made my spirits brighter. I was excited and full of energy, as was the driver, who I’ve gotten quite close to. He has great taste in music and laughs at all of my jokes. I sipped on some juice, grabbed The Catcher in the Rye, and enjoyed the two-hour drive to our first stop, Kisumu.

In Kisumu we picked up my other mentor who I call my “Kenyan Mama,” exchanged some money, and stopped at the bakery for my favorite Kenyan snack called mendozis (double-deep-fried heaven). From there we passed through many small villages, many valleys, rivers, and fields, and even the equator. It was a gloomy day, so after eating a packed lunch I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up right before we got to the border of Uganda. The gloomy day had only gotten darker and it was beginning to rain. I yawned as I reached to get my passport.

Something about getting that little booklet stamped brings me so much joy. This year I have visited South Africa, Kenya, and today I made it to Uganda. I’m excited to see where else this passport takes me.

Our small car weaved through two lines of semi-trucks, one headed towards Kenya, one headed to Uganda. I was trying to catch my first glimpse of Uganda in between the trucks but we were moving too quickly and the rain was starting to fall down harder. It was one of the purest forms of organized chaos I’ve ever experienced. During my time in all three African countries I find myself trying to imagine how adults in the United States would be reacting to the stressful situations that are an everyday happening here. Their potential reactions usually make me laugh out loud.

This week I hope to publish a blog post dedicated to the farmers that I meet this week. My goal is to interview fifty farmers. Every single farmer that I’ve had the opportunity to interact with thus far has been so knowledgeable and I respect their lifestyles to no end. I can’t wait for the next couple days spent with farmers from across Uganda.

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