Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sylvia Uwamaliya Stainback, February 25, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Growing up in Uganda as a Rwandan

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Partial Transcript: Okay, I am Angene Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Sylvia Uwamaliya Stainback clarifies that because her parents were part of the earlier 1969 genocide in Rwanda and so went to Uganda and spent 30 years there, she was born in Uganda. Her parents took the youngest of the eight children back to Rwanda in 1994 after the later genocide, and left the five oldest in Uganda. She was about 12. She explains how her parents came to Uganda. Her father escaped prison in Congo and got to Uganda. Her mother was in a refugee settlement in Uganda until she married. Sylvia grew up without extended family and spoke the Ugandan language Lisonga and learned English in school. She did not speak Kinyarwandan until she went to live in Rwanda when she was 17. Her parents wanted to shield the children from prejudice in Uganda. Her father was a carpenter, for example making desks for schools. She tells the story of her father marrying her mother in an arranged marriage.

Keywords: Arranged marriages; Congo; English; Family; Genocide; Identity; Kinyarwanda; Lisonga; Migration

Subjects: Families.; Refugees; Rwanda; Uganda

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
GPS: Uganda
Map Coordinates: 1, 32
GPS: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -3, 24
00:14:10 - Memories of growing up and schooling in Uganda

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Partial Transcript: What are some--(clears throat)--memories you have of--(clears throat)--growing up in Uganda?

Segment Synopsis: Stainback describes the small village where she lived next to Iganga where there were schools established by missionaries. Her father did some work in the technical school and her mother tried all kinds of businesses selling to students. They had no electricity, no water. Her parents were poor but sent them to school. As a primary school student she did not wear shoes, wore a pink uniform, and had one exercise book. Her parents' decision to go back to Rwanda in 1994 was a turning point, as well the fact that Museveni took over from Obote as President of Uganda. Then the westerners of Uganda were in favor, with last names like hers. Her parents sold their land in Uganda and the first born became steward of the money to pay for their school tuition and food. A blind student employed her oldest brother to take notes for him at Makerere University and he took a catering course and got a job at an NGO. The next brother went to university in Rwanda. The next sibling, a sister, got accepted in business school in Uganda and got her diploma in marketing and went to Rwanda and got job at insurance company. Sylvia finished tenth grade in Uganda and moved to Rwanda for final two years and got a scholarship to university in Rwanda.

Keywords: Amin; Iganga; Makerere University; Museveni; Obote; University of Rwanda

Subjects: Education; Families.; Migration

GPS: Iganga, Uganda
Map Coordinates: 0.615, 33.485
GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
00:39:10 - School and university in Rwanda

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Partial Transcript: And, and, and so, so was schooling however in Rwanda in French?

Segment Synopsis: Stainback explains the dual language system in high school and the merged system in university when English-speaking students had to take year of French and then could take classes in both languages but could take exams in the language one is most comfortable in. She majored in social work, a new and promising program, beginning in 1999 and graduated in 2004. She did an internship with an orphanage and with a micro-credit institution. She wrote her thesis on how micro-credit institutions helped women.

Keywords: Dual language system; Micro-credit; Non-governmental organization (NGO); Role of women; Social work

Subjects: Education; Employment

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
00:49:31 - Role of women in Rwanda / Her mother

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Partial Transcript: Well and hasn't Rwanda done a really good job--

Segment Synopsis: Stainback describes the progress of women and what needs to be done. She talks about her mother's activism and life. There is a word in Kinyarwanda that means 'acts like a man.'

Keywords: Mothers; Role of women; Rwanda; Uganda; Voting rights; Women

Subjects: Gender issues

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
00:54:10 - Meeting her future husband and coming to U.S.

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Partial Transcript: So after you graduate from college, you get get a job, uh, with an NGO--

Segment Synopsis: Stainback talks about getting job with Women With Women International in micro-credit, and then goes back to talking about dreaming about the future with her friend, and then about father's family who had returned from Congo to Rwanda. Her uncle who worked for National Conservation Services asked her if she wanted to go out with him and an American visiting doctoral researcher from Florida State University to visit Virunga National Park. They kept in touch and he offered to pay her plane fare to come to the U.S., and arranged for her to be accepted at Center for English at Florida State University. She came to the U.S. on August 11, 2005.

Keywords: American visitors; Coming to U.S.; Congo; Family; Florida State University; Jobs; National Conservation Services; Virunga National Park; Visa; Women with Women International

Subjects: Education; Emigration and immigration.; Employment

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
GPS: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -3, 24
GPS: Florida State University
Map Coordinates: 30.442, -84.298
01:08:18 - Marriage, education, and jobs in U.S.

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Partial Transcript: And then--

Segment Synopsis: Stainback talks about the excitement of meeting students from all over the world at the Center for Learning English at Florida State University from August to December 2005. While waiting for her transcript to come from Rwanda so she could get into graduate school, she then took courses at the community college. She got married in March 2006. She got her graduate degree in Administration and Leadership in 2008 at State University of New York Plattsburgh where her husband was teaching. Then he took a job in University of Kentucky's Forestry Department. She did an online certificate at Northeastern University in TESL. She taught ESL at Eastern Kentucky University for three years and then began teaching ESL at University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Eastern Kentucky University; Florida State University; TESL; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Education; Employment; Marriage

GPS: Florida State University
Map Coordinates: 30.442, -84.298
GPS: State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Map Coordinates: 44.693333, -73.466389
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
GPS: Eastern Kentucky University
Map Coordinates: 37.734155, -84.301434
01:20:48 - Adaptation to American culture

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Partial Transcript: Um, well talk a little bit about--and because you're teaching English as a second language...

Segment Synopsis: Stainback talks about differences in social and economic status here, and differences in diversity in the U.S. such as LGBT people. "I had to totally reconstruct myself." She finds diversity "interesting and fascinating." Because someone (her husband and his family) showed her the way, she offers herself to help. She talks about what a new immigrant or international student has to learn.

Keywords: Adaptation; Diversity; International students; Perceptions

Subjects: Immigrants

01:28:48 - Communication with Rwanda

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Partial Transcript: How do you--do y--how do you keep in touch with Rwanda now? And with your family?

Segment Synopsis: Stainback uses social media today and is in constant communication. She goes to Rwanda every year and has taken her son. Her father has visited.

Keywords: Fathers; Rwanda; Skype; Social media

Subjects: Communication; Travel

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
01:31:33 - Identity / Questions Americans ask

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Partial Transcript: Um, and, and so how--when somebody asks you where you're from, you say?

Segment Synopsis: Stainback says she was born in Uganda, from Rwanda. People ask about the genocide. She talks about changes in Rwanda and how her younger siblings grew up differently.

Keywords: Changes in Rwanda; Genocide; Rwanda; Uganda

Subjects: Identity (Psychology); Immigrants

GPS: Rwanda
Map Coordinates: -1.940278, 29.873889
GPS: Uganda
Map Coordinates: 1, 32
01:36:13 - Contributions to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: You have a particular, um, platform, I guess I would say, because of teaching, to, to really educate people, um, from all over the world about Rwanda, Uganda, Africa in general.

Segment Synopsis: Stainback sees this interview as a way to share her story. Sometimes students take a while to warm up to her because of their stereotypes of Africans. She brings up issues of poverty and women's empowerment in the rest of the world.

Keywords: Platform to speak; Stereotypes

Subjects: Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
01:41:48 - Discrimination

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Partial Transcript: Okay, let's, uh--I'm, I'm asking, because we took a brief break here, um, but I'm asking about, uh, whether you've experienced discrimination...

Segment Synopsis: She tells the story of taking her father, aunt, and sister to the Canadian border and being followed by a police officer back to her home. She talks about her experiences as a woman not getting respect from Arab men.

Keywords: Canada; Police

Subjects: Discrimination.

GPS: Canada
Map Coordinates: 60, -95