Friday, December 3, 2010

Intro: Meet My Students!!

I’ve been teaching for two terms now, and while I have done my fair share of singing the praises of (and bitching-and-moaning about) my students, I’ve not yet shown you all the faces of these 17-21 year old balls of love/frustration (save to those of you who saw my Africa slide show during my brief visit to the states, and then for only 5 or 10 seconds). In fact, I’ve been such a slack-ass about the blog and uploading photos, that I’ve failed to include pictures of my school and all that it comprises. Well: Shame… on… me. As they say here: slowly, slowly.

A few weeks ago, I began to consider the problem of the third goal of Peace Corps: Educating American’s about Ugandan’s. Now, Michelle remedied a bit of the challenge by connecting many of our friends and family with my kids and their shiny new GMAIL addresses - and I dare say that the grades in my classes have fallen steadily off a cliff ever since! - (I kid, I kid!). Actually, the whole email connection gig has been fantastic. Not only are my students increasing their typing speeds and knowledge of the computer and internet, but by connecting the them directly to American’s it has removed the middle-man (me) and allowed you and my students to develop a unique and otherwise impossible connection, a friendship.

Let me extend my sincerest thanks. You, by taking the time to write these boys and girls, have literally made them happier than I can say. To see them jump a bit when they see new messages in their inboxes, the exclamations of “Eh!” after reading something, learning something new, etc…

Congratulations! You are changing lives.

Moving on… a few weeks back, I proposed this to my students: “How would you like me to post a picture of you on the internet, on my website, so that the entire world can see you, learn about you, and contact you if they so desire.” The response was an overwhelming “YES!” So I asked them to begin thinking about a few things...

“Ask yourselves, ‘who am I? What makes *me* *ME*? Why am I special? What am I doing in this world? Where did I come from, and where am I going?’.”

Several days later, I snapped photos of Leonard, Ivan, Mugisa, Suzan and Ivan, and they gave me their short biographies. (Note: I am doing this project with my Physics class alone, as, well, liken me to a bad parent: I have my favorites.)

And what before my wondering eyes should appear?

Personal Ads. I felt like I was reading the lonely-people section on page 17 of some obscure free paper distributed in the dark downtown alleys of American cities.

You know exactly what I’m talking about: “SUM/F, DDF, HWP ISO VGL, ND, NK, NS PFF”
Read: “Single Ugandan Male/Female, drug and disease free, height and weight proportionate in search of very good looking, non-drinking, non-smoking, no kids person for friendship.”

“I’m sorry guys, but I cannot have you hitting on my family, friends and random internet house guests. I’ll make some suggestions. COME ON! I want you to get DEEP! Show these people who you really are! They want to meet you!”

With promises to revise, we parted ways until today, the last day of the third term.


Together, likely for the last time until January 31st when school reopens, I was presented with fresh copies of their biographies. As they are leaving to various parts of the country – deep village, Kampala, Fort Portal – these are the final drafts. Personal ads or not, my kids are getting published.

So here is the plan… the next series of blog posts will be titled “Meet (insert student name here)”. They should help you to get to know my kids a bit better. Honestly, its helped me to learn some personal facts that I was previously unaware of. Some of the writing is really touching. I hope you enjoy it.

My one rule: I am not editing ANY of the writing. It comes as is, straight from the page. I warned the kids about this in hopes that they would correct misspellings and use proper punctuation. Still, they are worried about what you may think of them. I’ve assured them that they are far more proficient at English than any of us are at Rutooro, Swahili or Luganda (which they are all fluent in), so they have no problems. Still, if you decide to contact them, please let them know that they are doing very well in their writing and to keep up the hard work… you know: Positive Reinforcement.

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoy meeting my students.

I love you all (but especially you Michelle!)


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