The weather on our last day of teaching at Sunrise encapsulated everyone’s feelings: grey, dreary, and rainy, as we were all dreading saying goodbye to the students, teachers, and staff at Sunrise. While each classroom was dark due to the rainy weather and lack of electricity in the school buildings, the rooms were full of light and joy as we all enjoyed our last day teaching our students and also learning alongside our students. Because we wanted to celebrate our new found friendships with our students, class ended an hour early for a dance party. Each class gathered in the courtyard of the school and we listened and danced to American and Ugandan music alike.
At the beginning of the dance party, our team of BSC students gathered to paint metal signs with inspirational phrases that will be placed on the school grounds. Some of the phrases include: “bravely imagine”, “be where your feet are,” “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” and “promoting life-long learners.”
After painting the signs, as a team, we each were given the opportunity to paint a tile on the school building to commemorate our time at Sunrise. Most of us chose a tile outside of the classroom we’d been teaching in for the past two weeks. After our hectic painting frenzy ended, we were finally able to join the dance party.
I think each of us had kids fighting over who could hold our hands. At one moment, I had a child holding onto each of my fingers! We had such a fun time dancing, singing, and being goofy with our kids. It was evident that all of us were living in the moment, soaking up the last few minutes we had at Sunrise. Finally, we were invited on “stage” (which was really just the porch of the library building), and Dr. Spencer said a few kind words about how much we deeply appreciated our time at the school. After she spoke, in unison, our team shouted “thank you Sunrise!”
We each left the stage and said our goodbyes tearfully. Everywhere I looked I saw our team of teachers embracing students and saying kind words. It was a very heavy moment in that all of us were so sad to leave a place that has brought us all so much happiness. However, it was also a beautiful moment too. The goodbyes were so difficult because in such a short time we were able to forge real, loving relationships with our students.
Although our walk home from school was tearful, and the general mood of the team was down for some time, in our group reflection later we were able to make peace with our sadness. We hope that these two weeks will continue a ripple effect in the lives of the students at Sunrise and as well our lives back at Birmingham-Southern. We sincerely hope that our teaching was effective for the students, and we find joy in knowing that the kids taught us valuable lessons as well.
As we begin our travels back to Birmingham, I know we are all sincerely grateful for the people, the places, and our experiences in Uganda. We are ready to share those experiences with our loved ones upon our return!