Friday, July 20, 2012

It's all about perspective.

Life lesson: There's not a lot of space for self pity while climbing up a hill. You either go, or stand still and get run over by a hurtling truck of green bananas.

Didn't want to end your days in a vat of matoke (banana) pudding? Then on you climb.

Exercise and time spent with my Ugandan family has cured my depression as if it were an annoying case of the flu. Thank you for sticking with me through it. I owe my friends and family a lot for their support and patience.
As we say in Kanungu, webale munonga munonga!

Between my Ugandan family and the smiling faces of every village student in sight, things are getting busy. I have been observing the work of teachers throughout Kanungu to see what programs a library would want to provide to be of the most assistance. Literacy, with a focus on language comprehension and fluency, still seems to be the biggest issue. I can't tell you how badly I want to bring a regular story time into the lives of these children. I know that looking over my father's shoulder at the words of our bedtime stories as he guided me through the sounds was essential to my learning to read. I have since outgrown the bunk-bed that I shared with my brother back then, but have not yet left behind the imagination that grew as Dr. Seuss nightly met me at the bedside.

Imagine this if you will- think for a moment of your favorite novel. For many of my generation, that means Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or (ugh,) the Twilight saga. Reach back a little further, and think of the other tales that have influenced you. Were you moved by Catcher in the Rye in high school, or enthralled by The Babysitters' Club, Goosebumps, or The Hardy Boys as a kid? Now imagine having never read ANY of those. And by the way, you have no TV either, so the outside world comes from what you hear on the radio in town. Does your mind feel a little closed in? A little cramped? My students point to the tattoos on my arms, and ask me to explain to them what that creature is- but how do you explain a dragon? Now take away all of the other items that you associate with childhood- the Barbie from a favorite aunt, your brother's Lego bricks, and that box of one hundred and sixty four pristine Crayola Crayons. Instead, your mind learns to play and explore from stones and sticks, and sometimes a secondhand baby doll from the market. Coloring, at best, consists of a cracked ballpoint pen and the back of the day's schoolwork, if there are scraps. How does this change the way that you define your childhood? How would you have grown differently?

On Monday I'll return to Kampala, Uganda's capitol city, where my teaching position for the fall is situated. This means another change- but I'm feeling more ready. In the time to come I look forward to telling you more about Kanungu and it's people, and how through the library project, you can help us to change the lives of generations of children.

Thank you again for sticking with me. Welcome to Uganda!

Lots of love,


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