I feel very comfortable here. I have my own room, my own space, my own bathroom, my own mirror, my own life. Mbale has a mountain to the East, supermarkets, lots of wifi bar and cafes, lots of good restaurants. It feels very safe, I have never felt anyone trying to hurt me or rip me off. How I feel now really makes me think that I’ll be coming back to Africa for a longer stay, maybe to Mbale!
It’s great that there are so many volunteers here at Taata Kids. The first batch that I met here: Esther, Pablo and Devon were young, fun, risk takers that helped me do crazy wild things like ride motorcycles, stay out after dark and climb insanely unsafe looking ladders. They have all gone now, though Pablo and Esther should return for a couple weeks about a month from now. I am looking forward to Pablo and Esther coming back for sure! This week, a Spanish girl helped cut my hair!
Along with the volunteers, I miss Koby the dog. He just all the sudden wasn’t around anymore and we’re all pretty sad about it. He was a good dog. He followed us every where including and especially when we didn’t want him to, but I never saw him cause any trouble. I liked to think he knew better than us and he was protecting us. I miss you Koby. Come home!
Uganda’s schools were supposed to open for the year on February 1st. The government, however, mandated, that schools had to open on the Monday after the election, meaning that school wouldn’t start until February 22nd. So, three weeks without school…. so the kids could vote? Whatever.
I started teaching Primary 6 and Primary 7 English (aka 6th and 7th grade) on Feb 22nd. It was tough at first, and I’m now a little over a week in and there are still very tough parts! I love teaching the kids. I love seeing kids being shy and then over the course of time, become more confident and excited to raise their hand and answer a question. I love adding words to their vocabulary, like “bummer”, “weird”, “collided”, “modify”, etc. I have some really great kids in my classes and I’m so excited to spend this month with them. Right now, each class is about 10 kids, but every day more students come. It will be interesting to see how many will be their in the end.
In my classes, I am to follow these curriculum books which are written by some Ugandan government approved education people. It does have quite a few errors…. And then there are the many times when I have to look something up on the internet because I don’t know if it’s wrong in the book or if I just don’t know it. So far, it’s a good mix of the book being wrong and me being wrong. But, I’m sure we’re all glad that I’m the kind of teacher who looks things up!! I am!!
My classes are brick shells with two cutouts for windows, a cut out door, a tin roof, a big blackboard, wooden desks that sit about 3 students and a dirt floor. There are banana trees out the window where I sit my notebooks and chalk. It’s a total dream.
I love teaching and especially teaching them a tool that will really open up the world for them. I have decided I’m definitely going to take a teaching English as a foreign language class when I get back to the states. It can be done online but I would like to do it in person if possible. I need to ask questions like “What do you do when the entire country misuses particular English words? Do you let that go as its own cultural form of the language or do you correct it?” And my first example would be the word “pick”. They say “pick” when normally in the US we say “pick up”. Such as, “Why didn’t you pick your phone?” or “I need you to pick your dirty laundry from the floor.” It actually annoyed me quite a bit when I saw that the curriculum guide I’m using, first defined the word “pick” as I would, “to choose” but then continued for the rest of the chapter to use it as “pick up”. Anyways…..
I LOVE TEACHING UGANDANS ENGLISH!!!
As for Mbale, I like it a lot. It’s chill, there are many places to buy things, it’s comfortable and it’s nice and pretty a little ways outside the city. It has some interesting architecture and a friendly feel.