Into the Field

This past week, the pace of my work changed drastically as I left the Transparency International central office in Kampala for “the field.” To ensure that the GIS trainings would continue to run smoothly while I was away, a necessity given that the classes will begin their independent research projects next week, I spent last weekend crafting exercises and Robert taught this week’s classes. In these classes, data aggregation techniques were reinforced and students were taught how to use several external applications, such as Tabula, which pulls information from tables in PDF documents and places it into an Excel spreadsheet.

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A Foray into GIS Instruction

After a week-long delay, caused by some difficulties coordinating with TI-U’s partner organizations, we are now nearing the completion of our second week of ArcGIS trainings. These trainings are divided into two sections, each of which meets twice a week for two hours, thus providing TI-U staff and its partners with a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility was a necessity given the hectic work schedules of training participants, many of whom divide their time between Kampala and frequent excursions into the field. As of right now, we are training nine individuals, four of whom are from TI-U, while the other five are divided between Citizen Watch-IT (election monitoring and social accountability) and Action for Development (women’s empowerment and advocacy).

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A Feel for Kampala

With two weeks in Kampala under my belt, I’ve begun to recover from my initial culture shock and acclimate to daily life in a developing metropolis. For this previously-uninitiated Westerner, that has required a great deal of compromise and a budding tolerance for boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) on Kampala’s perpetually gridlocked, street sign-less roads. In this time, I’ve begun my work with Transparency International Uganda (TI-U), where I am working to visualize and interpret the spatial data in their “Action for Transparency” program, as well as assist my co-workers in gaining familiarity with geospatial data and tools to increase their internal technical capacity.

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Poco a poco

Today marks the beginning of my third week in Mexico. When I came here two weeks ago, my bank PIN was rebelling, I was haphazardly thinking in three languages (English, Spanish, and Chinese), and I had a touch of altitude sickness. Within 48 hours of starting the job, my colleagues, Emily and Clay, and I put together a three-part geocoding training session in Spanish and then delivered it throughout the course of the week. We then read evaluations and improved the training program for our next session, which will be held a few weeks from now.

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Just casually having lunch in a castle

Monday, July 23rd

Today we had glorious lectures from Rory, the first about the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in Ireland and the second on GIS. The Bronze Age period (2500BC-600BC) can further be split into Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age and Later Bronze Age. EBA, in turn, holds the Beaker Period, the transition stage between the Copper Age and the Bronze Age. “Beaker” comes from the type of pottery associated with the period, found commonly in megalithic tomb burials as grave goods. During the MBA, round houses become universal, many with ditch enclosures. Crannogs, artificial islands made of stone or dirt and standing stone circles also come into use. There is a move toward hill forts and promontory forts during the LBA, with walls or palisades.

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