All posts by Kira Olson

Class, Class and more Class

We have been back for a week and a half now and we have been
busy the whole time.  Between
editing, writing scripts, lectures, writing papers, and the one phone call with
our beloved Herbert we have been having 7-hour class periods.  Who knew there would be so much to
do.  In the beginning of class I
thought that I was going to hate the long classes but now we have gotten so far
on the video and we have so much invested in it we all want to work hard to
make the finished project the best we can.  I think this video will be the best way to really convey
what we experienced on our trip. 
When we first came back everyone would ask us how our trip was.  Telling them a long drawn out detailed
story of everything we did and what we experienced and felt.  But doing this would be not only boring
for the person who asked but frustrating for us because it could never sum up
everything that happened on the trip and they would never truly understand how
it was.  So instead we settle for
something generic like it was a great trip tell a few quick stories and be done
with it.  Once we were all able share
our photos online I think our story was told a little further.  Now that we are getting a substantial
part of our video done I think everyone realizes that this is going to be the
best way to get our story.  We only
have 3 days left to get as much of the video done as possible.  It is weird to think that our 5 week
adventure is coming to a close.  It
has been a whirlwind to say the least and I am going miss everyone in our class
but I can feel us all getting antsy to finally move on with summer.  It has be an unforgettable experience 

Peacock paintings and being home

Wellll I have not posted in quite a long time.  In Uganda the second week was harder to
post because we had limited access to internet and I think we were all getting
a little bit tired and not really wanting to think about blogging.  Once I got home I was crazy busy and
just enjoying being at home too much to think about blogging.  But I am back now! 

The last day we spent In Uganda we went to a craft shopping
area.  This is where I experienced
my first real experience of bargaining thanks to Bridget.  I had wanted to buy a painting for
Uganda since a lot of my friends have been to the DR and come back with
beautiful paintings.  In one of the
huts that we went into had exactly what I wanted.  The first one that caught my eye was a beautiful painting of
a peacock.  When I asked how much
it was I was told 370,000 schillings_

Wine shop and hair boutique…best of both worlds

Hello from Gulu!  This blog is just going to be a little summary of what we have been the past couple days.  Also, for any confusion of my title it was just a random store we passed today on the bus.  I mean what else could you want? 

This has been quite a whirlwind adventure so far.  We have been busy working on things for our documentary.  On Tuesday we went to two former internally displaced people camps.  This was the most emotionally straining day for all of us so far.  It was really hard to see their desperation and hopelessness.  The first place was the site of a massacre in 2004 in the camp.  Rebels attacked and killed hundreds of people.  One man I talked to said that when the government officials came, they took him into town and had him speak on the local radio about the event and then when he returned he found out three of his children were burned alive in their family hut.  Even eight years later this community has not recovered.  They have many widow and orphans that must now be supported.  Their location from town makes it hard for their children to get education and nearly impossible to get any sort of healthcare.  

I think we all felt guilty that we were there with our nice cameras and probably at least $200 worth of schillings on the bus when these people had nothing.  One woman tried to give me her baby to take with me and another asked me for the shirt off my back.  I have never ever in my life seen poverty like this, it is amazing that people have to live like this.  

Today we went to a Church and a school that was way way north in Uganda.  It was the definition of “in the bush” I dont think I have ever been more in the middle of nowhere in my life.  Such gorgeous country side though.  I am glad we are here in the rainy season though, apparently in the dry season everything is just brown and dusty and really really hot.  I met the sweetest girl at the school.  She was very shy but I don’t think she let go of my hand the entire time we were there.  Right before we left she told me her name was Samuno and she was in P1 which means in her first year of school so she was probably about five years old.  

I can’t believe we only have a couple more days of filming left.  This has been the longest and shortest week of my life.  

For any astronomers out their following these blogs we can see the southern cross here and we can see the big dipper here but it is upside down.  crazy to think about that and that we are far enough way that we can see the southern cross.  That constellation is not even visible in the United states. 

Tomorrow we are going to spend the day at a Jesuit high school and then on Saturday we are going to to to another former internally displaced people camp.  After Saturday we are done filming and will be heading towards Jinja and Kampala for some of more of the touristy aspects that Uganda has to offer (ie game parks and the Nile River) 

My top 9 feelings about Malaria Nets and other things

  1. Could they be any harder to assemble?  Probably not.  How can you tuck the net under the mattress all around and then get in it?  As Molly and Mary Beth can attest to, I was not given the gift of assembling malaria nets.  The first night we were here,  it fell apart at least two or three times and me finally giving up.. hey I’m taking malaria meds right> Might as well get my moneys worth.
  2. How ever hard they are to assemble, they do make the bed look like a canopy bed and the little girl inside of me really appreciates the “princess bed.” 
  3. There were several fireflies in our room last night and I rather liked being able to see the fireflies and appreciate how pretty he light is without thinking that they are going to land on my face while I am asleep.  
  4. After finding the giant spider in our room the other day, it was comforting to know that that spiders off spring wouldn’t be able to take revenge against me at night for killing its father. (To give appropriate credit, Matt killed it with my shoe and I over sprayed it with raid to make sure… over excessive?…. Nope)
  5. Even after three nights I haven’t gotten any better at tucking in the mattress and I don’t think I will 
  6. I haven’t gotten Malaria… yet so I must be doing something right.  
  7. Berthoud Colorado needs to invest in some of these bad boys for miller season.
  8. A more important thought on the matter, we are staying in some fairly nice hotels by third world standards are concerned, and the other night I counted maybe 1 or 20 bugs on top of my net… so if in a nicer hotel in Uganda there are still 15 or 20 bugs how many are there in just an average home in northern Uganda?  I would assume that a lot of families probably cannot even afford one net.  Malaria is a huge cause of childhood death in the country and I assume that it attributes greatly to the high infant mortality rate.  Even when playing with the little kids yesterday, there was a little girl may 2 or 3 in a worn out, torn, filthy blue and flower dress and all these flies would just land on her and talk around on her face without her even flinching.  Obviously  she is used to being around insects being on her.  

Does she have a malaria net?

I think it is going to be important as we continue in Uganda and eventually make it home, not to forget these kids.  Obviously we all had fun playing with them, taking their pictures but it is important to remember that these children are more then just a “photo op” that saying it harshly, but to me thats how it seems sometimes… touring poverty..  We just have to remember that we are privileged to be here and to not forget.  

  1. Everyone needs Malaria nets.  

There is way too much that we have done in the last couple days to talk about now, traditional dancers, Indian food, interviewing former child soldiers, and lots of video taping.  

Thought of the evening: Is the only reason to get an education i

Who owns this cow is blocking the round about???

Hello from Uganda. After 28 hours 23 minutes ands 51 seconds (thanks for the running time count Matt) of travel on Thursday/Friday and an 8 hour drive on Saturday.  we finally made our way to Lira where we will be for 4 nights.  The hotel and the compound is really nice. 


The ride today was a culture shock to say the least but in the best way possible.  Being crammed on a bus for that long really can bring a group together.  We saw everything from cows walking in the road (who owns these wondering cows anyways?), to at least fifteen baboons in the road and in the surrounding forest, to probably some of the scariest driving that I have been in, although I must admit it is aggressive BUT very very efficient.  


Everything here is so colorful: the landscape, the building, the people.  Everyone is so excited about life, personable and excited to meet us; except for the women who threw bananas at our bus, but that is a story for another time.  


When we finally got to our hotel in Lira we were all excited to go walking around the compound and outside of the compound.  When we wondered out we found a group of probably 15-20 children playing.  They loved our cameras and wanted to make silly faces for the pictures and then would die of laughter looking at their silly faces.  They had so much life and wanted to show off their karate moves that they learned from movies to us.  


Once back home, Matt helped me to kill a rather large spider in my room and now it is time for dinner. Dinner was outside by candle light and fireflies.  However romantic this idea sounds it was more of an adventure not being able to see what you are going eat… from as far as I can tell, it was beef, fish, tortilla type things, fruit, and salad. 


I was also struck by the community that i saw on the bus.  Even just driving past these people it was obvious how much more community oriented they are then in the American culture.  


Great day.  Tomorrow is mass at nine and then interviewing the bishop in the afternoon.  I have been surprised at the lack of jet lag that I have experienced but I bet it will probably be worse when going back to Omaha.  For anyone back in Colorado and Nebraska waiting for an e-mail from me that probably wont happen for a while the internet is slow and limited here but keep up with the blogs. 


Finally, new word of the day … Mzumgu the word that they use for white people.  We heard it a ton today and I think we will be hearing it a lot more in the next couple weeks 

hello from amsterdam

we just arrived in amsterdam…the flight was not terrible. Movies fulled up my time (tangled and country strong) and I also learned a very important life lesson… Always choose the pasta on flights or you will end up with bbq sauce/chicken/sweet potatoes blended together.. Left a lot to be desired… This will be a short blog I just wanted to sare my favorite quote thus far from “they come back singing” by gary smith. He is a jesuit that lived in uganda working with the sudanese refugees. He talks about his trials and tribulations but the one quote I liked was “why do I love this place so much? Is it because here human nature has not had time to disguise itself?” more on this later. Now onto rwanda and then FINALLY uganda!!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow is the DAY. In just over 24 hours we will be boarding a plane in Minnesota on our way to Amsterdam.

Even bright an early at 8:30 am the excitement in Hitchcock 205 is undeniable.  The quiet of unfamiliarity that filled the room on Monday morning was just a distance memory today.  Noone could sit still and noone could be quiet.  Friendly chatter echoed in the small room.  

Through this chaos Dr. O’keefe made the mistake of telling us it was 24 hours from our flight so we would be able to check in… this lead to 20 minutes of even more chaos where people were checking in, while others weren’t allowed to check in yet, and tweeting to Delta assist to get better seats.

 While I was picking my seats I got to thinking, on these long flights where the lay out of the plane is two seats on the side of the plane and then 5 seats in the middle where is the best to sit?? 

Obviously the 5 row of seats is out.  Even if you have an aisle seat there are 3 or 4 people trying to get past you where as if you get a sit in just the 2 seat rows there is only one other person.  So do you want the aisle or window seat? 

Isle pros:

Easy access to get out to stand up or go to the bathroom.

More leg room (not needed here) 

Window pros:

 Rest your head on the side of the wall

Can look out to see everything

In the end, aisle seat won out… mostly because my deep seated uneasiness of making someone go out of their way to help me… even if it is just putting their tray up so I can scoot past.  

So I settled on buying a ridiculously large neck pillow to compensate for the lack of wall and will enjoy my quick escape out of the row.  


10 hours till we leave.  So nervous.  But so excited.  🙂


Here’s to about 24 hours of being on a plane.

There are only two emotions in a plane:  boredom and terror.  ~Orson Welles

And here is to 2 weeks of a whirlwind adventure

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

A notorious over-packer’s guide to packing for Uganda

Coming from a girl who has been known on occasion to pack two pairs of almost identical black heels for a vacation because I “didn’t know which would look better”  I chose to look at packing for Uganda as a challenge… Tetris of sorts.  

Step one: Throw everything you want to take on the trip on the floor of your room… 

Step two: try everything on… Make sure it is Uganda suitable.

Step three: Divide everything up by category (shirts with shirts and so on)

Step four: Pull out any duplicates… No Kira you really don’t need three identical blue crew neck shirts 

Step five: Put back half of the things that are thrown on the floor… Seriously. Just put it back.

Step six: Space bags are your friend.

Step seven: Dust off those tetris skills and pack everything in the suitcase. REMEMBER to wrap up anything that can spill… Remember Murphy’s law, it will spill. 

Step eight: Sit on the suitcase to zip everything up.

Step nine: …Wait we have to pack a tri-pod?

Step ten: Start over again.


Whew.  Pictures to come when I can find my camera cord in the clutter… oops 

Seeing Places I May Never See Again…

Every time before we go on a trip my dad will play the Willie Nelson song “On the Road Again.” 

On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been

Seein” things that I may never see agian

And I can’t wait to get on the road again 

 This is really the attitude I am going into this adventure with.  I can’t say that I am not nervous about spending two weeks in Africa and I am not going to say that I am excited about the nearly 24 hours of travel involved to get to Africa (I’m not) but I do know that I am a college student and let’s face it, this is AFRICA.  This is the only time I’ll probably be able to drop everything and go to another country for two weeks.

I am trying to go into this with no preconceived notions.  I mean, how can I really?  I’ve never experienced close to the culture shock in Africa but I know it’s something I will never be able to forget!  

I think the blogging is one of the things that I am most excited about.  I have always wanted to have a blog but, let’s face it, I never really thought anyone cared what I had to say but I think a travel blog will be the best way to start out my blogging career!  

 We are all so lucky to have the means and the opportunity to travel to Africa and because of this we have a duty to share the stories that we learn there. 

Half way through the first day and already “This time for Africa” by Shakira is blasting, everyone is laughing, and Matt DoRwart (standing tall at 6′) is still talking about how concerned he is about not getting an exit row seat… I think it’s going to be a great trip! 

 And I can’t wait to get on the road again!