The First Goodbyes

19/11/15

I said goodbye to my year 1 students and one of my neighbors today. I finally felt better today, so I washed my clothes after the torrential downpour of the morning subsided and then made my way to the PTC. I gave my supervisor a very nice fountain pen from Boston University and discussed the last few discussion points of my service:

  • Term timetable for the ICT tutors
  • Driving me to Kampala from Luteete
  • What to expect to do with my successor
  • Schedule for my last three weeks in-country

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I then spent one of my last days teaching in the computer lab. A few year 2 students came in and I taught them the basics of holding the mouse, practicing drag-and-drop with solitaire, and the functions of major keyboard keys. We also had a heated discussion where I tried to convince them that being black doesn’t make you any less intelligent, developed, or able to succeed compared to “whites”. What really riled me was when they said that they would much rather prefer a “white” person like me as a Peace Corps Volunteer than a black African Peace Corps Volunteer. They just couldn’t comprehend that black people could be successful or called true Americans because of their skin color. So honestly, it wasn’t that different than many of the discussions that I have had with them.

It feels weird, because I was teaching as if it was any other day during the term, but I knew that everything would soon be different. In less than a month I would be hanging out with friends in Amsterdam and I would breathe in the frigid December air. I left the ICT lab in the late afternoon and said goodbye to the year 1 students whom I could see. Naturally, they all wanted my contact information and photo.

When I got back to my house, I shared some samosas with my villagers and then said goodbye to Master Okia. Master Okia is one of the fathers who lives in a house near mine in Luteete, and he would be leaving next week for a month-long trip. Since I would be leaving in the first week of December, I made sure to knock on his door and personally say farewell. He requested that when I return back to the United States, that I not forget the people of Luteete.

Right now I am wondering how it could be possible for me to forget my experiences here. I honestly believe that I have enough life experiences here to fill a few average lifetimes. I tend to stop and gaze at things here for a few moments and reflect on my time. I look at the growing apple trees, the organized library that has progressed from having a part-time student librarian to a full-time librarian, and a functional ICT lab with eager students. I know that I will leave here with no regrets.

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The Beginning of Teaching

February 18th, 2014

           I started teaching this Monday. I entered the Year 1 classroom, and there were only 5 students just like last week. I was a little bit under whelmed, because I was informed that more students had come. Apparently, there more Year 2 students arrived than Year 1 students because the O Level Examination results from the Secondary Schools were still being released. I decided that I would begin teaching the Integrated Science curriculum and that the other students who arrived later throughout the term would catch up and get the notes from the students who are already here. I agreed to teach only Unit 1 of the necessary classes for Term I here, which involves the process of working and maintaining a science lab. One of the difficulties includes not having a science lab on the campus or in any of the nearby areas, so teaching how the theory of having science experiments and keeping records while incorporating literacy is hard to make enjoyable or captivating.

I am also having a hard time deciding what to do about teaching ICT since there aren’t any usable computers for the students here. A big goal for me is to write grants after IST (In-Service Training) and get a computer lab started here for the PTC so that ICT can actually be taught here. I also cannot start teaching Math, because I am teaching Unit 2: Sets and the teacher who is supposed to be teaching Unit 1 has not taught the Year 1 students yet. Of course, I understand that these things will all happen in due time and I am more amused than annoyed at my circumstances. I mean I signed up for the Peace Corps to be an Education Volunteer and I cannot expect the facilities to be on par with those back in the United States. That would be an unfair comparison given the different resources, skill levels, and bureaucracies that exist in the United States and Uganda.

But teaching these students makes me happy. Whenever I make them smile or learn how to read and define a new word I know that maybe I might have left some sort of a small impact over here. I am anxious to get into the meat and routine of things, but there is a lot of time here and it moves slowly. And with every passing day being a Peace Corps Volunteer does feel like the hardest job that I’ll ever love.