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Cultural Experience of Karuhogo Tracy Ayebare – from Uganda to Canada

Uganda’s ecosystem consists of dense jungle, open plains and snow-capped mountains. Lake Victoria is a significant water source for the population near its shores, and it connects the borders of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. With a rich history dating back thousands of years, Uganda’s independence was recently gained in 1962. The primary spoken language of Ugandan people is English with many regional dialects by various groups throughout the country. Additionally, it is home to two impeccable UNESCO world heritage sites: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Karuhogo Tracy Ayebare is an international student at the University of Manitoba from Uganda. She is specifically from the Mukiga tribe and came to study in Canada in August of 2019.

I decided to come to Canada to study while I was in high school, where I was informed of the many opportunities to study abroad. [On campus], I get to meet people from different countries. I love it here.” Tens of Thousands of students from all over the world study at the University of Manitoba. Like many other locations teaching higher-level education, it is a place where the unique opportunity to integrate with other people and share different perspectives exist; allowing the ability to engage in a microcosm of a wider multicultural community.

When speaking about Ugandan food and culture, Tracy has many fond memories and anecdotes. “In Uganda, everyone speaks English, but we have various cultures from the North, East, South, and West. You might find fifty distinct tribes in the northern region of Uganda alone.” Different tribes in Uganda also have very different diets ranging from green bananas and plantains to Irish potatoes. “There is a big difference between the cultural attire of Uganda and Canada, too. For instance, in Canada, I’ve noticed that the formal wear for a wedding is suits and dresses in the latest fashion. This is far from the case in Uganda, where there are different types of wedding ceremonies and traditional attires are worn. In Uganda, we have a “kuhinjira” ceremony. It’s when the groom is introduced to the bride’s family, and it’s a very formal process where both families join in. As in the case of a “kukyala”, it is a casual ceremony of the potential husband meeting the parents of the bride-to-be. In either case, the attendees would wear the cultural attire of whichever region they are from in Uganda, and every attire is very distinct.”

Tracy has a deep passion for understanding the human mind, as well as, the way in which different cultures interact. This is manifested in her core study of Psychology along with courses in Anthropology and Human Geography. Diving deeper with her values in honesty and compassion through her studies, she is also intrigued by family structures of different cultures, and she hopes to gain better understandings of these in her education. One of the important lessons that Tracy overcame when moving to Canada to study is exposing herself to be more open when experiencing new cultures. It is vital to meet new people and try new things to adapt and educate oneself. This will also deliver a sensational cultural experience – one that you can appreciate should you ever find yourself in a beautiful place such as Uganda. 

Authored by David Teffaine

Edited by Natasha Byrne

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