Many of you have probably realized by now that I am a man of many words. Not a trait that most people aspire to embody. There is a reason why I use so many words to outline my experiences in Uganda or in life more generally. The reason is this: I do not want to oversimplify something that is inherently complex. Unfortunately, my words have a tendency of getting me in trouble from time to time. Sometimes I get so caught up in an idea that I forget to consider the feelings of those who are on the other end of those thoughts. Many of the people who are reading this very post, for instance, can probably recall a time that I have said something hurtful or inconsiderate to them. Obviously I do not intend to hurt people with my words, but good intentions do not amount to an excuse.
The fact of the matter is that I am a very calculated person. That is, all of my actions are premeditated. If somebody pegs me for murder, you can bet that it will not be in the second or third degree. However, there is a difference between one having awareness of his intent and one being cognisant of his surroundings. When I hurt people it is due to a failure of the latter, not the former. I may very well know what I say and why; conversely, I often forget to take into account the ears that hear my voice or the eyes that read my thoughts. Call it narcissism, call it a big ego, or call it being a dick. I am not proud of the fact that I hurt people with my careless words, and over the years I have gotten better at paying closer attention to my surroundings before I open my big mouth.
Despite the fact that I am 21 years old, I am still learning the ins and outs of this whole ‘human’ thing. And learning is impossible without making a few mistakes along the way. Unfortunately, my most recent mistake came at the expense of a group of people about whom I care deeply.
Yesterday I wrote a blog entry about my life as an intern at a Uganda-based NGO. In this post, I misrepresented my host organization and its partners. I shared details about my organization that were objectively inaccurate, mischaracterized the work ethic of my colleagues, and undermined the overall image of NGOs in Uganda. It has always been my intention to represent my host organization and its partners in a positive light and it saddens me that I have failed to do so. Even worse, I have personally offended the co-workers and friends who have been my lifeline since my arrival in May. I did not realize that my words would bring about the reaction that they did when I drafted the entry; however, that is no excuse. The fact of the matter is that I have wronged those who have taken me in as their own, and that is something I will always regret.
The purpose of my blog is to shed light on all aspects of Ugandan life, whether it is: culture, language, politics, or everyday interactions. However, sometimes the subjective nature of my words gets mistaken for objective statements of fact. Through blogging, I hope to show my friends and family all of the fantastic attributes of Uganda. In light of my recent entry, it is evident that I have failed to meet the purpose I originally set out to achieve. What I have neglected to realize is that my readership has grown to include several people who live here in Uganda. Therefore, I must also take special care to uphold the confidentiality of my friends and colleagues.
I have been working at my host NGO for quite some time and have grown very fond of my colleagues. I have never been accepted by a group of people with such open arms in my life. These people have made my time here nothing short of exceptional. Even as I write this entry, I have pinched myself at least twice to be sure that Uganda is not some fantasy dream. There are not enough words in the English (or Luganda) language that I can use to describe the steadfast appreciation that I have for my host organization and its staff. It is my hope that all of my readers (Ugandan and Canadian alike) will not base their impressions of my host organization or my fellow colleagues purely on the objectively inaccurate depictions found in my previous entry.
I am usually a man of many words, but for the purposes of today, three will suffice:
I am sorry.
I am sorry to my friends and family in Canada for putting forward an objectively harmful version of my life in Uganda. I am sorry to my colleagues for misrepresenting their good nature. And I am sorry to my host organization for giving them a reason to doubt my good judgement; for calling into question my commitment to represent them in a positive light.
I am reminded of a quote from a fellow swimmer as I sit here and regret how I failed those who I care about: “it is only failure if you do not learn from it; every moment is a learning opportunity, positive or negative.” In light of this quote, I hope to move forward and use my past actions as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve myself.
I will leave Uganda with a new understanding of what it means to be part of a loving family – and sometimes in a family, the idiot 21 year old brother runs his mouth off without considering the feelings of his siblings. Hopefully, such actions will be restricted to by biological family in the future… they get tired of me pretty quickly, you see.