Things are going pretty great here in Mbale. We had a meeting today with the Ministry of Education. It was really well. I'm so excited about this project. We're working with this school district of...wait for it...104 schools! Not just a handful. The teachers in this area really struggle with curriculum and teaching skills. It's rote memorization, no student participation, etc. So we're going to evaluate lectures at a bunch of schools in the next two weeks and then we're going to hold 5 big teacher trainings--1 in each area of the school district so that the teachers don't have to travel as far. The school district is HUGE. You remember that waterfall we hiked to last Saturday? Yeah, 7 schools from the district are on top of that mountain. So going to five different locations and having the nearby schools each send 5 teachers for us to trains how to more effectively teach as well as expand programs like art, music, drama, math, etc.
We met with a bunch of principals from the schools and they were very enthusiastic about the project. We're so excited about developing this curriculum and training because there are a lot of places that have requested this type of help from us. So once we help with this huge district we'll be able to implement it in small villages and stuff. Bingo!
The meeting itself was...kind chaotic. We were all sitting around this big rectangular table and I really felt like I was sitting in on a parliament session or something. Everyone was talking at once, talking louder is the only way to make yourself heard, the woman in charge would frequently call everyone to order, when people wanted to speak to the group they'd get her attention and say, "Madame". haha Somehow, through all of the chaos, it worked. Everything that we wanted to discuss and get hammered out, worked. It was different than I was used to initially, but it worked like a charm. I'm stoked to get this project underway.
Oh! I wanted to show you a picture of our local market where we buy our fruits and vegetables and stuff. It's nuts! You watch where your step, you just handle the fact that everyone is going to be muttering...or yelling "mzungu" as you pass by, people pitch their products to you as you pass, etc. It's exciting, sometimes smelly, but always a solid good time.
Conversations with UgandansI feel like this is a segment that should get started. They say the most hilarious things. I'll give you a few examples...
- We have a cook named Sam. He has such a kind voice that sometimes it makes me laugh. He is so caring that it almost weirds me out sometimes...like I can't believe he's for real. One time Kelsey and I were talking to him while he was preparing dinner. He asked if we have cars at home. Kelsey said, "I had one but my brother wrecked it." He got a concerned look on his face and with his words drenched in kindness he said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I'm very sorry." We both looked at each other and laughed a bit because I couldn't believe he was so genuinely caring. Back home people would probably half-heartedly say something like, 'Ah man, that sucks'. haha
- He did the same thing when one of the volunteers was showing him some music on her iPod. The screen is cracked a bit apparently. He asked her what happened to it and she said, "Oh, it just fell." He did the same thing. "Oh no. I'm so sorry. I'm very sorry about that." Genuine, sweet concern. It just makes me laugh sometimes because I'm not used to it I guess. haha We love Sam. He's very sweet.
- Yesterday on my walk home I stopped at a little craft place with some fellow volunteers. We were just looking at the handmade jewelry and stuff. I saw these really cool giraffes that were carved out of wood. They look way cool. I was just admiring them and I guess I said something like, "Oh that would be so fun to have in my house." The woman who owned the shop said, "You have a house?" To which I laughed and replied, "Oh, not yet. Just someday." She said, "I'll pray for that." haha Really? You don't need to pray for me to get a house. haha Someday is an okay answer for me. They're just really sweet people here.
- Another thing that lady at the craft place said was she saw one of the volunteers scratching her arm...yeah, pesky mosquitos doing. The lady who owned the shop asked if we all sleep with mosquito nets and use spray to keep them away from us. She said, "I'm just worried. They're very dangerous and I don't want you to get sick." Darling. Stranger on the street, knows nothing about us, but she directed us to a store where we could buy mosquito spray and is apparently praying for me to get a house. haha Sweet.
- Yassim (the little boy pictured above) is pretty funny. He really likes hanging out with us. Sometimes he just shows up at our house because he..."left something behind"...but really he wants to tag along with us to whatever we're doing. haha One time he was walking with us to the market and we were buying little juice boxes. Yes, they have those here. And yes, I've dropped a few shillings on them a time or two because they're delish. I asked him which flavors were his favorite and he didn't like apple juice. I asked why not and he said, "It is not destiny for me to like it." haha How great is that?! I kind of loved that response. There are some foods that you like and some that you just really don't like. In the words of Yassim, it's just not destiny.