Last Day at Buiga Sunrise School

Tears. All kinds of tears. Today was our last day of classes and our last day with our kids. After a couple of hours of teaching, we had a dance party. All of the classes and teachers were out in the middle of the school dancing. We all danced to some of the popular songs in Uganda, and we also got to share some of our songs too. From us, we played Cha Cha Slide, Uptown Funk, Whip and Nae-Nae, and many others. We also all got to enjoy some popcorn while we danced. After the dancing was over, it was time to say bye to all of the kids and teachers we had gotten to know over the past couple of weeks. Some of them cried, some of them laughed at as while we cried, and some helped wipe our tears. To me, I know it is super hard leaving this community because of the kids. These are the kids that we have gotten to know, the ones that we have been teaching, the ones that have been teaching us, the ones we have been walking to and from the school with, and the ones that we play with in the afternoons. We have invested ourselves into their lives and now it is sad knowing that we won’t be seeing them continue their successes in the classroom and that we won’t be there for them whenever something bad happens. It is going to be hard knowing that we won’t see their bright smiling faces running down the hill to school just to be the first ones to give us hugs. All we can do is hope that we have reached at least one child to be the best person that they can be in and out of the classroom.

As we start our journey back home tomorrow, we ask for your prayers for safety. We couldn’t have asked for s better trip and we were so glad to have had the opportunity to share our experiences with you all back home through pictures and through this blog. See you all when we get back to America!!
-Natalie Daniel

Today in P2, we made books based upon the book, “I Like Myself.” We have been reading this book with our students for the two weeks that we have been teaching; so, today they made their own “I Like Myself” books with themselves as the authors. On the inside of their books, they listed different parts of their bodies that they like, i.e. “I like nose, ear, finger…” There is nothing more encouraging than seeing a group of second graders be proud of the individual who they are. 

This was good preparation for an afternoon of activities planting and painting. Today was also the first time it has rained since November. We, as a team of student teachers, along with P7, planted plants around a sitting area for the kids. One of my favorite things we did this afternoon was paint our names on the plaques that line the buildings. The new student teachers were able to join the names of the returning student teachers as a way to always remember the culture, children, teachers, and the experiences that forever changed our lives. 

Overall, this experience has been extremely eye opening for me and the rest of the team. The people of this village are extremely welcoming, giving, happy, and humble. The children of Buiga Sunrise are forever memorable from their laughs to their smiles to the walks to and from school with them grasping our hands. I have learned so much from them and hope they have learned as much from us. Mara and I were lucky enough to have a small class where we learned the strengths and weaknesses of each student and were able to watch each improve throughout the two weeks. 

The most memorable part of this trip were the home visits. We had our third home visit today with the first two being scholarship students and the third being a student of our choice. It is an up close and personal experience with the lives of some of our students for which you cannot be emotionally prepared. 

Tomorrow is our last day at school, and it will be bittersweet. 

-Jessi 

Hello all the way from Africa!!

We had a very fun and relaxing weekend at the Safari Lodge seeing all types of animals such as: rhinos, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos and even lions! Although we had such a great time there, it’s safe to say we were all happy to be back in the village and see all our kids again! 

A smile overwhelmed my face as the children waited for us on the road to walk to school together. I missed them and their joyful spirits! After a short walk we were at school and I couldn’t have been happier! In P1 we like to start our days off with some individual silent reading time, but today I thought it might be nice to all read together one of their favorites, The Little Engine That Could. After that, they couldn’t get enough so we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which most have memorized since we frequent it often! They really enjoy group reading and it bring much joy to my heart to see them so excited about literacy! We then went on a caterpillar hunt around the school, but was sadly unsuccessful. Then it was time to read Brown Bear Brown Bear, another P1 favorite! We ready this book as an introduction to their unit about the school. We then went on a field trip around the school mimicking the book by asking what each student saw and responding “student student what do you see?” “I see ___ looking at me!” We then went back to the classroom and each student drew their observation and with guidance wrote a sentence about it! We could tell our students were getting a little wiggly so we took a fun brain break and sang some songs! After the break we had a lesson on phonics. We’ve already covered two phonics sounds, “a” and “t” and today was “s”. There were many proud moments for a teacher during this lesson as they remembered all we’d covered in the past and we introduced blending of sounds to start teaching them to read and they caught on very easily! Then the day was quickly over and we sad our goodbye songs and we’re on our merry way! 

-Ann Bennett

The Mzungus Go On A Safari

Over the weekend, we traveled to Murchison Falls National Park in Northern Uganda. 

On the way, we went trekking for Rhinos. Our guide assured us he was “always lucky,” and he proved himself right when we saw a mother and baby rhino espcaping the sun just a few meters away from a larger male rhino. 


Sunday morning, we embarked on our first sunrise safari where we saw a lion, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, water buffaloes and much more. 


Later Sunday, we went on a water safari, and most of us hiked the grueling path to the top of Murchison Falls.


Monday started with another safari drive and ended with relaxation by the pool.


Needless to say, the weekend in Murchison Falls was just the adventure and relaxation the students needed to return to Buiga Sunrise School refreshed for their final three days of teaching. 

(Higher quality pictures to come)

Day Five at Buiga Sunrise School

Half way mark!! Our time in Uganda has been an indescribable mix of highs and lows. I think Ashley sums up the emotional rollercoaster best when she said life here just feels “more”. In our 5 short (or long depending on the moment you ask us) days of teaching the interns have had the opportunity to put our past seven semesters of educational theory and ideas of running a classroom to the test. We’ve all had our share of “plot twist” moments of insecurity, but our doubts are always overshadowed when the dots connect for our students and in the moments they make the brilliant connections, we remember what it is that makes us want to teach. 

Lessons Learned 

1. Humility and flexibility = key in the classroom: One of the biggest hurdles in teaching at Sunrise is the language gap. For all of our students, English is a second language and beyond the limited polite phrases none of us speak Lugandan. It is heart wrenching to make it halfway into a lesson and realize that the award worthy activity you have planned is only understood by 1/4 of the class. This is when our relationship with the cooperating teacher kicks in and we put the label of “collaborative” education to the test. Our internship is a chance for us to truly learn from and with our teachers here in Uganda, they are kind enough to call us colleagues, and watching them work a classroom, helps to set the standard we are striving to create in our own rooms next year. Each of us can name a time our teacher helped swoop in with a translation to save the day, or noticed something happening and fixed the issue before it became a problem. 

2. Songs are the quickest way to a kid’s heart: the ideal song is one that involves enough jumping to cause wheezy breath and red faceed muzungus. Bonus point if part of the song is in Lugandan 

3. Best way to eat a mango: Mom I’ll share when we get back. 

4. The importance of knowing where our kiddos come from: Friday we got to do home visits to see where our students live and meet their families. Knowing a student’s home life helps us better teach them because we can understand them in a new way. 

5. We need our tribe: The mushy-gushy mantra of the education department has proven itself oh so true. When planning lessons in the cassisita pavilion each night, or brainstorming ways to connect with reticent students, talking it out with people who share my philosophy and goals for my students has proven invaluable. It’s nice to have people cheering you on and people you want to celebrate with when something extra successful goes down in the classroom. 

6. The happy cry is just as important as the sad cry.

-Mara

Day Four at Buiga Sunrise School

Hi from Uganda!! Today was my fourth day with the Buiga Sunrise kiddos. Every morning my P3 class is waiting to run and give me giant hugs as soon as I step foot close to the room. I am working on story writing and maps with my class. By the end of these two weeks, I should have two writing samples from my students. One will be a classroom story derived from a wordless picture book, and the other will be a collection of the students’ individual maps of their walks to school.

A normal day for me looks like this:

  • 8am – Good Morning Songs
  • 8:30am – Quick Qrite
  • 9am – Read Alouds and Focuses Discussions
  • 9:45am – Literacy Mini-Lesson
  • 10:15am – Brain Break with song and games (like Duck-Duck Goose, which has proved to be a favorite!)
  • 10:30am – School-Wide Snack Break
  • 11am – Quick Write
  • 11:30am – Map Lesson and Activities
  • 12:30pm – Independent Reading
  • 12:45pm – Good-Bye Songs

I love everyday here, and I’m so excited to have his opportunity. I’ve learned so much from these kids, and I can’t wait to see what else this journey has in store!

-Meredith Grace

Teaching and Learning and Weaving Together

It’s our third day of teaching and the 10th day of our adventure. Today was the day I probably smiled the most so I’m glad I get to write about it. Overall school went really well for the whole group. We are obviously still trying to figure things out but by now most of our students have warmed up to us and are excited for school! I am in the P4 classroom with my 17 wiggly students and we are learning about story elements. Today was particularly exciting because we wrote our own mini- stories and labeled our characters and setting!  We also went on a monkey hunt since I have still not seen one and they are apparently everywhere.  I saw nothing but my students promised that there was one in the tree. After school, we painted the playground and with the help of P6, it went quickly and they made it a lot more fun.

Later in the evening, ladies from the village came over to teach us how to make baskets and weave mats. It was amazing to see how quickly the women could weave and by the end of the lesson, I think I was getting pretty good at it.


Then we had homemade pizza for dinner!! Personally, I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end the day. While we miss our people at home, we are having too much fun and are nowhere near ready to come home. Hey mom!! Ashley

PS – Happy Birthday Katherine from AB

Side note: I have tried independent reading in my class the past couple days and today we finally got it! It was so exciting to see all my students sitting and reading their own book of choice. Toward the end they even started sharing their books and reading with their friends! Great things are happening here!