A Typical Day In P5

Every morning in P5 we start the day by reading books while we wait for all of our friends to get to school. Some students read silently by themselves while others read in pairs or small groups. Once all of our friends arrive we stand in a circle and sing songs to begin the day. The first song we sing is our good morning song. We hold hands while we sing and say good morning to everyone in the class. After this song our students teach us songs in Luganda. One of their favorite songs is the Mango Tree song. We sing it one time in English and a second time in Luganda. When Teacher Maggie, Teacher Jenna, and I try to sing in Luganda the room fills with laughter as our students giggle at our broken Luganda.

After we finish our songs we start our morning activity. We have been teaching our students about writing letters and using descriptive words when they write. Some of the activities we have done with them include writing letters to their teachers and family, describing objects in the classroom, and playing games using words from our word wall. We started our word wall the first day of school and have been adding words to it all week. At some point during the day we read aloud a story to the students and then the students read the story aloud together. When the students read together we stop at the words that are new to them, discuss their meaning, and then add the word to our word wall. After we add words to the wall and review them we let the students become teachers, and they teach us five new words in Luganda. So far they have taught us greetings such as wasuz’otya (good morning), olyotyo (how are you), and wasibyotya (good evening). They love teaching us the names of the fruits that can be found in the school garden such as amapeela (guava), fene (jackfruit), and emiyembe (mango).

After the students finish adding Luganda words to the teacher word wall we have an afternoon activity which is usually similar to our morning activity. Students that go to school here are rarely given the chance to be creative, so we always try to give them activities that allow them to either draw or write stories so they have opportunities to be creative in the classroom. One of the activities we did was we had the students write a letter to someone in their family. They had to tell their family member their favorite thing about them and their favorite thing they’ve done in school this week. At the end of the letter we told them they could draw what they wrote about. They loved drawing and having the chance to be creative.

At the end of the day we always sing more songs before they leave to go home. We sing our goodbye song where we tell every student we are glad they came to school. We always sing more Luganda songs and their favorite English songs we have taught them. When the bell rings and we all get ready to walk home Teacher Maggie, Teacher Jenna, and I tell our students bye by saying welaba (see you) or jambo (goodbye). Our students laugh as they walk out door at our effort to try and practice our Luganda word wall words.

Izzy Riggs


In the classroom

Today at the school, I was surprisingly calm. Katie, Sarah, and I taught nine students in P6 and P7: Angella, Michael, Anthony, Damalie, Phiona, Robert, Juliet, Sandra, and Patrick. We first sang the continent song and taught them about Africa. I was absolutely amazed by their brilliance and strong willingness to learn. There was one moment that was emotional for me. After we read a book to them, it was their turn to read the same book to us. All nine of them came to the front of the room, gathered around the student holding the book, and started reading so confidently loud. In this little classroom with lack of resources and supplies, there were nine students who looked like they had everything.

Break time came, and I was talking with some students in P3 classroom. We were having a general conversation and they left all of a sudden. I thought they left me because I had bored them, but no! They came back with a book in their hands and wanted to read it to me….during break time. I was so surprised because most kids back home would want to go out and play. They brought different books one after another and I was so happy to listen to them read. The kids at Sunrise school are extremely eager to learn and take education very seriously. I just hope that I do a great job teaching my students and help them grow.

Su Jeong

Reflection on the First Day of School!

First day of school! We were all buzzing with excitement and nerves as we got our supplies together and made our way to school. As we walked along, our group began to grow with children- hand in hand, ready to take on the day.

I am in a fifth grade class, and today brought 14 wonderful humans into our classroom. I am teaching alongside Maggie, Izzy, and Patrick. Patrick is one of the resident teachers from the Sunrise School. He was so encouraging today, and I am looking forward to working alongside him and learning from him. As one of the non-education majors in our group, there is so much to teaching that we are getting a glimpse into, so we are all soaking in as much as possible from both those in the Ed department and the teachers at Sunrise.

One activity that my class started today and will be doing throughout the next 2 weeks is a word wall! We add words that the students don’t know during story time or the lesson and will review these new English words frequently during each day. In addition to the English word wall, our class will also have a Lugandan word wall, where the students become the teachers and teach us 5 new words each day.

Today, the students decided that we would learn:

  • Mulimytya: How are you? (If you are talking to multiple people)
  • Olyotya: How are you? (If you are talking to one person)
  • Wasuzotya: Good Morning
  • Wasibyota: Good Afternoon
  • Mugyebaleko: How was work?

Maggie, Izzy, and I are excited to see what the students will teach us next – both through our word wall and about being better teachers as we explore teaching approaches over the next couple of weeks!

To celebrate the first day of school, we had a movie night tonight with the teachers at Sunrise to build community and get to know each other both in and out of the classroom. We watched a movie called, “WarDance.” The movie was powerful. It was about a group of Ugandan refugee students from the Acholi tribe in an area devastated by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The students were part of a dance team, who went to the national dance competition and won in the Traditional Dance category. The story explored 4 different students’ tragic experiences with the Rebels and how the young students found some peace and happiness through dance. Many of the teachers had not seen the movie, so it was a thought-provoking story for all. It did lead to conversation about our own school, and I came to find out that Sunrise has a dance group that competes also. Some of my students are even on it, so I am looking forward to asking them about their love for dance tomorrow.

The first day was a success and filled with great beginnings! We are all so thankful to be here and can’t wait to see how we all grow over the next two weeks individually and with our students and teachers.

-Jenna McEachern

Reflections on a Ugandan Church Service

This past Sunday morning we had the opportunity to attend an Ugandan church service. The P1 teacher, teacher Lydia, graciously let us attend her church. It was so special to worship alongside her as we are working closely with her these next two weeks.

The church we attended is named Harvester Reformation Church. Their theme verse is found in Luke 10:2 which says: “And he said to them ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”. In this church, it was evident they embody this verse. The congregation started out small but grew and grew as the service went on.

This church service was one the sweetest and best that I’ve been to. They greeted us with open arms and even did the whole service in English, just for us. Dr. Spencer, Emily, and I were also given the opportunity to participate (via speaking, Bible reading, and prayer) throughout the service.

This service was both touching and overwhelming. Multiple times throughout the service, Natalie and I both had tears streaming down our faces. To look around a room full of believers rejoicing together moved us both to tears. In a place where our language is not the same and there are more differences than similarities… We stood together worshipping the same exact Savior.

In John 11, the death and resurrection of Lazarus is told. Within this chapter, Jesus is overcome with emotion over the death of his friend. “He was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled… Jesus wept. So the Jews said. ‘See how he loved them’” (John 11:33-36). There Natalie and I (along with a few others) stood there weeping… Not for the loss of a friend, rather for the gaining of new ones.

In a village far from home, the love of Christ was shown to us. In Genesis 1:31 it states: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good”. Oh how good and how beautiful his creation is. Thanks be to God.

Mary Clyde Culbreath

Getting Ready for the First Day of School

Hey everyone!! My name is Natalie and I am one of the three senior education majors doing one of their student teaching placements this January in Africa! As many of you know, tomorrow is our first day of school!! This is the first day of the school year at Buiga Sunrise School and the first day of school for us to be here teaching. We have been planning and prepping for many months, and the time is finally here for everything to fall into place.

Today we got to meet with our teachers to make a game plan for the next two weeks in the classroom. We met some new faces on staff at the school and we were able to introduce ourselves to all of them. (Luckily for me, this is my third year coming on this trip, so I know some of the teachers.)

One of the most important aspects of this teaching experience is being able to collaborate with our teacher from Uganda. It is important to plan alongside each other and learn from each other along the way. I know that as I start my student teaching internship tomorrow, I know that I am being supported by the best group of people as well as my family. You will get to see the next two weeks develop into some of the most incredible life experiences from both preservice teachers and students from other academic disciplines. Thank you for all of your prayers and support from home as we begin creating the most amazing relationships with our students and their families, and as we begin our work at the school.

Arriving at Bushbaby Lodge!

Hi friends and family, it’s Katie here! This past week traveling Uganda has been INCREDIBLE! No words or pictures can even begin to describe the people we’ve seen and met, the animals we are all dying to take home with us, or the culture we have been experiencing during our time here. On January 12th we traveled from the safari lodge, through Kampala, and into the Mukono region where we will be staying for the next two weeks at the Bushbaby Lodge. The bus ride was long, but we were welcomed with tea, coffee, juice, and a delicious dinner. I know we are all so excited to settle in and start preparing for our first day of school at Buiga Sunrise!

On the 13th we had a blast riding boda bodas, which are motorcycle taxis that we have seen all over the roads in Uganda. The drivers gave us a tour of the village with a few stops on the way. First we stopped at Jajja Sarah’s small plantation and she showed us all of her plants, how she dries and grinds groundnuts to prepare for a sauce, and how she collects and prepares coffee beans. Later, we were welcomed into the home of another Jajja and her family and they cooked us a traditional meal including beef, matoke, casava root, acorn squash, and the groundnut sauce we had talked about earlier. It was delicious! Our last stop was at lake Victoria where we had a snack and a soda and met lots of local children right on the shore. Needless to say, we had a great day. At the end of the trip we stopped by Buiga Sunrise School and saw the classrooms we are going to be teaching in on Monday. It was a great end to a long tour and I think it made everyone so ready for school to start! We are SO excited to meet our little kiddos in just one day!

-Katie Gleeson

Hiking & Dancing our way through Uganda

Hello fam & friends!! We miss you all! Here is a quick update:

This morning we were up early to catch the African sunrise which is likely just as you imagine it— a big yellow-orange yolk sliding up the pink sky. As it rose, we trekked out in our bus through Murchison National Park observing what animals were grazing that morning and saw elephants, water bucks, kobs and water buffalo. The bus dropped us off on the side of the Victoria Nile (a smaller feeder river to the main Nile) to await our boat that was to take us to our hike. After we boarded the boat, we took in the wildlife that lived both in and beside the Victoria Nile. We passed various schools of hippos protecting their babies and blowing water from their nostrils. We saw crocodiles on the riverbanks sunning themselves and a group of giraffes taking advantage of the vegetation along the riverside. Once the boat arrived at the hike, we all disembarked and headed up the mountain to Murchison Falls which we could see in the distance. This waterfall is the most powerful waterfall in the world, and according to our guide, crocodiles will lie in wait at the base of it for freshly killed fish that die as they are sucked down its turbulent waters. We reached the top and the dry heat of the day was overcome by the mist coming off the explosive, active water. In the mist, we could also see the sunlight refracted to produce a rainbow. We were all in awe of the scenery before us.

Following our hike and a boxed lunch, we loaded back into the bus and returned to the lodge. Some of us (myself included) took a power nap while others journaled or read before dinner as a group. We ate dinner in the open air pavilion, enjoying the cool air and hot food. After the meal, we were treated to a viewing of traditional dancing done by some local Ugandans. This included a group dance of men and women, as well as a rather difficult looking dance performed by the women whereby they balanced three clay pots on their heads as they twirled and whirled about the room. The next song we all joined in the dance (thankfully no clay pots were involved) and did our best to follow our Ugandan friends’ movements. This wasn’t something I was particularly successful at, but we had a blast regardless.

As I mull over the past few days and all the experiences we have had, I am so glad to be here. Our guide asked me today if I would come back to Uganda and I immediately responded, absolutely. Our group has been such fun to be around and I am excited to start teaching and forming new relationships with the locals next week.

Sarah Bowman