Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fond farewells

Arriving in a slightly zonked state at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (one of my favorite transit points) on my journey home, I indulged in a delicious Dutch cappuccino. The strains of Black’s “Wonderful Life” filled my ears. I was initially impressed by the airport’s choice of classic British pop music, but then the lyrics started to resonate with the sense of gratitude I was feeling at the end of our second successful GSSAP. 

My gratitude check list includes: our wonderful group of students who embraced and engaged the challenges of northern Uganda in so many inspiring ways; my most valued colleagues and dear friends, Tricia and Randy Hepner; our impressive set of lecturers and group partners; all those who shared their war stories and personal suffering with us; our former students Jayanni Webster and Lindsay McClain for all their help on the ground, and to the latter for holding her wedding to popular local musician Jeff Korondo while we were there (!); the delightful hotel staff who looked after us throughout our stay; the joy of old and new friends in Gulu; the excitement of our game drive in Murchison Falls Park and the exhilaration of the river Nile; and above all our gracious internship hosts who provided such unforgettable opportunities for our students to learn about grassroots peacebuilding and development initiatives, as well as local institutions.

On the evening before we left Gulu, we invited many of our partners and friends to a farewell party at our home away from home, the one and only Hotel Kakanyero.  The following pictures capture magnificently the spirit of our group (enhanced, not diminished, by five weeks of living together!) and the warmth of our Acholi friends and partners. How we shall all miss their oft-repeated greeting, “You are most welcome to Gulu and Uganda!”

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