Muli Mutya! (How are y’all!)
Hope everyone is healthy and doing well. I am having the most amazing time and have so much to tell you! I can’t believe I’ve already been here almost a month, the time has flown by! I feel like I am getting a good grasp on my language and have plenty of opportunities to practice whenever I go into town. I have become pretty good at bargaining for things at the market and actually have fun doing it. We entered into the rainy season with the beginning of March and it has been raining surprisingly less than it was before, but I am sure this will soon change. Typically it rains most days for at least part of the day and then is sunny for the rest of the day. It has been POURING at night lately and there is a tin roof at my homestay family so it sounds even louder.
Earlier this week we visited Gombe Kayumba primary school to observe a lesson. We met with a Ugandan Coordinating Center Tutor (CCT) who spoke to us about the changes they were making to the Ugandan school systems. I was extremely excited at first because the CCT knew so much about alternative methods of teaching and was excited to implement the learner-centered approach in the classroom. When we sat down to watch the lesson he taught I was extremely appalled. He basically lectured to the class, of close to 90 P6 students around 9-10 years old. (To all my DAWSON ladies, I will never again complain of a class of 25 students! You would love the kids here though, they are so obedient and eager to learn!) Even more, he did not use any wait time when students were responding, he called on the same students, he LAUGHED at a student’s wrong answer, and had poor instruction all around. There were 10 of us trainees there and those of us with teaching backgrounds were furiously taking down notes in our notebooks to share after the lesson. After the lesson we went with the CCT to reflect on how everything went. I asked him to tell us how the lesson went before we gave any feedback. It was shocking to hear how he thought the lesson was perfect! When I asked if that was the style of teaching that we were supposed to implement he said absolutely and that it was ideal. Amazing! Such a seemingly educated man completely contradicted everything he seemed to stand for in the classroom and, worse, that is what we are supposed to strive for! Above everything else I learned how much I have to offer here. The entire experience completely reaffirmed my reasons for being here and made me feel like I am truly needed. Before we left we were able to play with some of the kids and my goodness do they love cameras! They would run in front of the camera to get their pictures taken and would jump and scream around. Some of the little ones even put chalk on their faces so they could look like the muzungus. It was a very eye opening day but the eagerness of the kids makes it all worth it for me. I definitely have my work cut out for my while I’m here!
I’ve had plenty of ups and downs and some days are definitely harder than others. I am trying not to focus so much on the negative and keep my mind on the positive but it is definitely a struggle at times. Dealing with all the unwanted negative attention has been one of the hardest things for me here. The kids run after you in town and touch your arms to see if touching your white skin will make them turn white. It’s a constant thing. The men shout rude comments after you and ask to be your Ugandan husband. Sometimes they ask for even worse. I’m working really hard to not get hung up on all of this and I feel like I’m doing a better job. I try to greet everyone I come in contact with so that they know that I am a part of this community. It seems to help and they absolutely love it when I speak Luganda! They are shocked to hear their language coming from a foreigner’s mouth.
Now for a positive story…I had the most amazing day earlier this week. At school I was totally understanding my language and making progress. After lunch current PCVs gave us a presentation on educational materials and my group made a beautiful alphabet chart, complete with manuscript lines, on a cut rice bag! It was wonderful and even better I was able to take it with me! After school another volunteer and I came back to my house where my brother cut up a jack fruit and gave it to us. Jack fruit is amazing and always puts me in a good mood! Then we milked the cow (or tried to, but that’s another story). Later that night I played volleyball, with a soccer ball, with Miriam and Olive. It was so much fun to be in the front yard just playing with my sister and cousin. My limited volleyball experience to them was expertise and they were eager to learn the basics. After dinner my mom was helping me with my flashcards and language pronunciation. Days like this remind me why I’m here and make all the struggles completely worth it. I feel so blessed to be here and to be part of this amazing culture. I am learning so much and each day is a new experience.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I know this one was a bit long. I miss all of you more than you know and love reading all the emails! Please keep me posted! Send me pictures! I love hearing what you guys are up to.
Siiba Bulungi! (Have a good day!)