This is it: D-Day. Today began the real reason we have come. We fanned out around the region and visited classes to teach, observe, ask and answer questions. It was invigorating, touching, inspirational, and also very sad. The general sense is that there is a deep desire on the part of the kids to learn. They understand what is at stake, and despite the trying environment one teacher before classes of 60 kids, they all concentrate, are well-behaved, and take copious notes. Studying at home is not a given though, as some students do not have kerosene to fuel light by which to read. Not a problem one boy told us, "I manage to do it during the daylight hours." Not to preach to our own children, but they need to understand the opportunities that they have and do honor to them. So much that we take for granted as a given is toiled and competed for over here. As teachers we know that intelligence is nice, but nothing beats desire and motivation, a will to succeed. The sad part comes when we realize that even with these determined qualities, many children will fall short. The demand is too great and the resources too scarce. Just as we encourage our kids to eat all the food on their plate, we hope they will make use of all the opportunities we provide them, to let nothing go to waste, as Ugandan children are hungry for any scrap of opportunity.
Some of the more common questions posed to us during our classroom "interactions" w/kids:
- What do you think of our climate?
- How does your curriculum differ from ours?
- Do you think Obama will win? What does America think of him?
- How did you travel to get here?
One young lady at the St Maria Gorretti all-girls school asked us, "What do you think of us?" Instead of showering her with words of praise about their lovely country and wonderful people, we just replied, "Come here and we'll show you." She trotted down to us smiling, to a chorus of laughter, and was embraced by three teachers to thunderous applause. What a moment! Sometimes you get tired of talking about things and you just need to show. When we left that classroom at the end of the period, dozens of girls came forward for their hugs.
In the evening we had a relaxing dinner and exchanged our experiences of the day. Tomorrow, day 2 in the field. Stay tuned.