peace corps has three goals:
goal 1: to help the people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women.
goal 2: to help promote a better understanding of americans on the part of the peoples served.
goal 3:to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of americans.
the first goal basically covers my day to day work at my organization (at least in theory). the second and third goals are much more ambiguous, and allow pcvs to be creative. some common examples include setting up pen pal programs between youth in the country where they are serving and a classroom back in the states, blogging (some people actually write educational and uplifting stuff on their blogs. this obviously doesn’t really apply to me), and simply having conversations with people about their experiences. i have to admit that i don’t do a lot of work that would fall under goal 2 or goal 3, aside from relentlessly trying to convince people here that cheese is god’s gift to mankind. america recognizes it, so should uganda. recently i have been on a somewhat serious mission to achieve goal two by explaining america’s love for dogs.
this past week i have been dog-sitting for another pcv. dogs may be known as “man’s best friend” in america, but here in uganda, dogs are terrifying beasts of death. i imagine that the only part of old yeller a ugandan child would like is the end when the dog gets put down (and they’d probably be thinking something along the lines of, “it took you that long to realize that the dog was bad news?”). instead of crying at the end of marley and me, they would be cheering and laughing (actually, they’d probably be pissed that they wasted two hours waiting for bob marley to appear only to be disappointed by owen wilson’s nose).
i’ve showed my neighbors pictures of my family’s dogs, suzy and daisy (note: i did not pick the names. my mom and chocolate bear are the responsible parties), and tried to explain that dogs can be awesome companions. i have a hard time convincing them since the only exposure they have to canines are the brutally scary guard dogs in the compound next door (these beasts make cujo seem like air bud) and the anorexic fiends who rabidly tear apart our garbage as soon as it lands on the burning pile.
due to the fact that i am incredibly irresponsible and selfish, i will never own a dog here in uganda. this past week, i’ve been hosting a dog named remmy. this isn’t the first time that they’ve seen him, but this is the first time that remmy has been over for longer than a brief visit. the adults have been cool with remmy’s presence for the most part (one of the dudes can’t seem to get over the fear of a dog-bite, though). the children, on the other hand, are terrified.
there aren’t that many things that annoy me more than children. while most pcvs seem to get off (disturbing phrasing is very much intended) on dirty ugandan children crawling all over them, i get off by torturing them (the disturbing phrasing is again, very much intended). me, being my evil self, decided to take advantage of remmy’s presence and terrify them. the goal is that their interactions with the dog will be so traumatizing that they will never bother me again (after remmy returns home, i plan on threatening to bring the dog back if they bother me).
today i put this into action by releasing remmy into the courtyard once the children and their friends got home from school. i opened the door and then sat down and waited for the screams to begin. as expected, within 30 seconds, i heard the blood-curdling screams of 8 ugandan children. “andrew!!!! ka (little) dog is trying to bite me!” i sat for what seemed like a few minutes (in reality it was probably about 30 seconds, but most likely hours in the minds of my victims) before reacting. i leisurely strolled out on the balcony overlooking them. “what’s wrong. the ka dog is nice. he is your friend. don’t fear.” this is met with even more screams of terror, which is especially amusing since remmy is simply lying on his back wanting one of the little brats to scratch his stomach.
after i reach the courtyard i pick up remmy like a baby and reassure them that the dog is their friend. i put remmy on a leash and slowly convince the children to come up and take turns petting him. after their nerves have been calmed somewhat, i stealthily removed the leash and let remmy free. i could have just let remmy remain calm, but i thought it would be more fun to rile him up. upon realizing the dog is free to move about, the children scream and run in all different directions, which helped in the riling up process. one of the boys, a cute little fattie, maybe 3 years old, attracts all of remmy’s attention. suddenly the courtyard turns into a scene from gladiator as all of the other children laugh and cheer as their former compatriot runs for his life (my next goal 2 activity is to make these children watch spartacus so they can learn some loyalty to their fellow man).
the little guy was keeping a pretty good pace considering his weight and the shortness of his legs. things came to a screeching halt when he tripped and face-planted in a fresh pile of dog feces (for being a smaller dog, remmy happens to produce fairly large-sized dumps). briefly, time stood still as i tried to reconcile in my mind what had just happened.
this was more than i could have ever imagined or hoped for.
once i had finished the first of many laughing fits, i put the leash back on remmy and took him back upstairs to my place.
with remmy safely locked away, i returned to the courtyard to reassess the damage (and perhaps in hopes of mocking the poor little kid a bit more). the housegirl was washing off his face. i was surprised to see that he wasn’t crying. instead, he just had a look of utter shock (he was so joyously pathetic that i waited until i returned to my house before bursting out in laughter again).
i was able to reach these kids with two lessons on american culture:
- dogs can be your friend (i guess i kind of messed that one up).
- never bother andrew orland rowan, or there will be consequences (not sure if they really understand this, but i am sure that they won’t be coming anywhere near my house in the near future).