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New intern crosses continents to be here

Hey there! I am Sharon Oyat, your new intern from Uganda, Africa. I will be the first international intern at the Pine Journal. It is very exciting for all of us, and an adventure. We will be learning a lot from each other these coming months.

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Hey there! I am Sharon Oyat, your new intern from Uganda, Africa. I will be the first international intern at the Pine Journal. It is very exciting for all of us, and an adventure. We will be learning a lot from each other these coming months.

Maybe you’re wondering where Uganda is and did you know that Africa has its own Great Lakes?

Uganda is located in the heart of the African Great Lakes: Lake Edward, Lake Albert and Lake Victoria, which is the biggest lake in east Africa.

Uganda is a small country in the eastern half of Africa; it is famously called the “Pearl of Africa.” It is the world’s most populous landlocked country after Ethiopia and is well known for harboring the famous mountain gorillas.

Uganda is a very beautiful country. If you are a lover of nature, natural acoustics or green vegetation, Uganda is the place to go! It is beautiful and very green with fresh waters, fresh fish - everything is fresh from either the waters or the gardens. Our soils are so fertile that we grow almost everything. It is an agricultural country, that is why you will hear most Ugandans say “agriculture is our backbone.” We export coffee and cotton as cash crops.

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Uganda's climate is tropical, though temperatures cool with increasing altitude. Its annual rainfall ranges from more than 2,100 millimeters around Lake Victoria to about 500 millimeters in the northeast. Vegetation is heaviest in the south. Plant cover thins in the savanna and dry plain regions in the northeast. It is also famous for being the source of the Nile River.

Uganda is made of a diverse range of ethnic groups of about 64 tribes and dialects. It is highly populated as it is estimated be 39,660,151 people. You are probably thinking those are very few people, but you have to remember that is an entire country, not just a state like here.

English is the official language spoken by most educated Ugandans. There are a few indigenous languages that Ugandans love to speak; sometimes non-Ugandans think one of those is the official language. Luganda is the most widely spoken language; it is the Bantu language, commonly known as the Baganda. Uganda gets its name from the Baganda, which is the largest ethnic group in Uganda.

I come from the Northern part of Uganda, commonly known as the Acholiland. It is home to the Luo Nilotic ethnic group. Acholiland is comprised of the following districts: Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo and Pader, plus Magwe County in South Sudan. I come from two of these districts, Gulu and Kitgum. I say I come from two districts because my mother comes from Gulu and my father from Kitgum. I speak Acholi fluently.

Both districts have suffered the wrath of the rebel war in the northern part of Uganda, led by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This was a rebel group headed by Joseph Kony and Alice Lakwena.

Because of this war, I have lost a number of family members, including my  father, George Oyat, and my grandfather, Janayo Oyat, a few years later. Both were murdered by these rebels. My father died when I was 2 years old, so I never knew much of him. I was raised by my mother, Santa Akello, as a single mother.

I have a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, with a major in broadcast journalism (radio and television) from Uganda Christian University. I am the last born of my siblings. I had a brother who passed on to be with the Lord in March 2014. I have an older sister back home with two amazing nieces. I was raised in a humble family.

I would like to thank the Krohn family, especially Timothy and Mary Krohn, for their kindness and generosity towards my family and making all this happen. They helped find and organize this training internship, for education, exposure and experience of a difference culture far from that in Uganda. Thank you!

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Oh America! I am here five days now. Wow! Every day that goes by, I can't seem to find people around the neighborhood or walking on the sidewalks. Yes! Cloquet does not have so many people outside. You are rarely on the streets; all I see are cars moving past my street. Every morning I look out my window, hoping at least I could see people walking to work or school but all in vain. It makes me feel lonely. It would feel more like home if there were more people on the streets, but I guess I will have to adjust to my new home and people staying indoors.

Still, I am excited to be in Cloquet and I hope to share a lot of things with you as I learn more. I hope you enjoy reading my stories as I enjoy exploring Cloquet and Carlton County! Kindly feel free to contact me at soyat@pinejournal.com .

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