The principal, Jumba Cyprian, picked us up at the hotel at 8 am.
The drive to the school was only about 25 minutes, but I quickly realized that it was a much better idea to have him drive us than it would have been to rent a car. I thought Houston roadways were busy and confusing! Actual traffic laws seem almost nonexistent.
The main road leading to the school is a red dirt road. The first school we arrived to was the primary school which has grades 3 levels of Kindergarten through Primary 7. The students in Uganda start school at 3 years old. After 3 years in kindergarten, they go to Primary 1. That means Primary 7 is equal to 7th grade in the US.
The principal and the Bursar, Esther (she manages the school’s finances and seems to hold many other jobs), gave a tour of the school as well as a visit to each classroom. Inside each room, we were welcomed by the students (in unison), and they also stated their grade level, class motto, and campus motto. Some students were very shy, while others were very curious about us.
Then we walked across the road to the secondary school. I got to see inside some classrooms where students were taking exams (50-60 students in one large room). At the first desk (3 to a desk made for 2) each student was taking a different exam: physics, reading, and math. A group was outside with a teacher doing a Bible lesson under a tree, while another group was playing soccer. They have some games next week. Those boys were very good! I also got to see and use the water pump that Harby helped build last August. The secondary campus is very spacious with lots of green grass and large areas for the children to mingle around in during their breaks.
After break, I went to play with the kindergarten classes. They had some songs for me, and others stood up to tell me hello. They call me Auntie Melissa. Because they are only 3-5 years old, their attention was everywhere, but the teachers were doing their best to keep them involved. We got in a circle and did some dance moves and chants. I was lost. Everyone fought over who got to hold my hand. At one point I think I had 8 holding on to one hand and arm. They gave out a million high fives when it was time to go back to class, and I pretty much had to go with them to get them all back inside.
The kindergarteners leave school at 1, or most of them do. So before they left, I handed out toothbrushes. First they showed us how to brush, complete with sound effects. Those that leave, barely did so because they were too busy giving hugs and high fives, all of which were accompanied by a chorus of “Bye”!
During our lunch, the primary students would peek in the window to watch, but quickly ducked when I glanced their way. They were very curious about the visitors, but also very shy.
Before we left that day, we met the ePal group that writes to my Humanities class. I gave them all their letters and gifts. Many of them are very shy while others don’t have an ounce of shyness in them! That explains why they are the Head Boy, Head Girl, and the school Prefects. They’re an amazing group of students and I can’t wait to share what else my students have for them.
Overall it was an excellent first day. I got to see everything that Harby has helped with, plus the new projects the school is trying to do. Can’t wait for day 2!