Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hamilton conquers Uganda; next stop India? Pakistan?

If you’d never been out of the U.S., it’s understandable to think that you might be a bit nervous for your first trip to, say, London or Rome. Now, imagine the nerves if that first trip abroad were to Uganda.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Uganda, mind you, but for many who don’t know what a great place Uganda is, a trip there sounds a little scary.

This is precisely the situation faced by my colleague Dr. John Hamilton, a criminal justice professor at Park University who has spent the last three weeks here in Uganda teaching media/counterterrorism seminars with me and my other colleagues Dr. Ken Christopher and Dr. Carol Getty.

John Hamilton (left) with Ken Christopher
I must confess to being a little worried about how John would handle the culture shock. It turns out that he was born for international travel. Even though it was his inaugural trip abroad, John handled everything like an old pro. He was seemingly unaffected by the vicissitudes of travel. Here, those include tedious car rides, bumpy, dusty roads, skipped meals, repetitive lunch buffets, showers with the water pressure of knotted hoses, and 5:00 a.m. wake up calls from annoying roosters.

Not only was John good natured, he was curious about everything, especially the food. He tried kudu (antelope) and ostrich and matooke (steamed plantains—not his favorite). He even tried the “beef” on the lunch buffet at one of our seminars. Also not his favorite. There were lots of things he did like, however, like the local beer (Nile) and the local fish (tilapia).

It was fun for me to watch John (and Carol and Ken) really get into teaching, pouring themselves into lessons and opening themselves up to our students. After one seminar, a participant came up to me and thanked me for “selecting such great teachers to bring with you to Uganda.” I do feel pretty smart for asking them to participate in this project, which is sponsored by the US Embassy-Kampala and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University.

John leaves Sunday and heads back to Kansas City. (Ken, Carol, and I have two more seminars here). Bon voyage, John.

Now that John's a veteran traveler, we'll soon be planning our next overseas project together. I wonder if he's ready for India or Pakistan. I hear Islamabad is lovely this time of year.

(Click here to see John's Uganda blog. For Ken Christopher's blog, click here).

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