Today was another busy day in Rukungiri- we got off to an early start at school with all of the Groton and Bishops students arriving in tandem from different parts of the village after another night of home stays. We gathered in the staff room for a quick meeting and then got started with the music, dance and drama group after the Bishops students had their weekly announcement period in the school's church. We learned two Ugandan songs which we will perform the day of the festival which is quickly approaching- our program is leading up to a series of events this Thursday which should be a great time not to mention a fun way to get the entire community involved. We were initially a little confused when learning the first song because it sounded like the lyrics involved a "tuna" rather than "true love", which was, as it turns out, the song's subject. It took a few tries before we realized the song wasn't about someone's undying love for a fish but rather their soul-mate. We got a few good laughs from this!
We had break tea and then from there ran a crafts session which was again in preparation for the fete this week. During the session we had students pair off and work on both snowflake cutouts which we thought would be a fun activity, as well as representations of home. Some students portrayed their homes or showed a comparison between school campuses. Others displayed items that made them think of home or family members. One boy drew himself singing and playing on the guitar in front of friends. On the day of the fete we would like to represent the students' interpretations of each others' homes and their respective homes which should be really interesting.
The students also got started on a paint project today. Mr. Reed got us all going on painting one of the classrooms which was definitely in need of a facelift. About half of the Groton students got started on it today and so far, progress has been great. We'll continue rotating people through to get it polished and clean by the end of the week! Some of the students commented on how many of the Bishops students observed as they painted. It's something that I have noticed during our time here as well- if there is an activity going on, you will always have someone watching what you are doing. It's a little strange initially especially when you're not used to an audience! Over time though you get used to it. It's nice when those watching can also jump and in and pick up a paint brush or join the game too.
The day wrapped up with lunch followed by a games session that the Groton students planned. We ran four stations and then rotated through. Afterwards the girls went up to play net ball which is a popular game here in Rukungiri. The girls walked over to the primary school pitch up the hill and were immediately followed by a massive cluster of primary school students who came out to watch and cheer them on. Kei and Tyler also tagged along. They ended up front and center as the game started with a 5-year-old between them, each holding one of her hands. As the sports kicked off so did science club with Mr. Reed and three Groton students, Angus, Diva and Sunny, building a battery with the help of a large group of Bishops kids.
A quick update on the home stays: everyone is three nights in and so far so good. The students are all fairly close to school and some live down the road from each other. The weekend was a nice time to interact more with the families and get to know some of the extended family members. In most cases, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the many many cousins live within throwing distance from each other. Coming from a family spread across North America, I find this so comforting. I'm jealous! I love the Ugandan culture of neighbors and family being the same and how people come and go from each others' homes constantly. I noticed this over the weekend especially. I went back to stay with my previous host family for a few days. When I was here two years ago I was matched up with an incredible family who I quickly got attached to (I will always refer to them as my Ugandan family- my home-away-from-home). It was such a joy for me to see them all again and to have the opportunity to spend time together- something I never thought I would be able to do after my last visit. It was so special to be there and to adopt the Ugandan way of life for a few days- I love the emphasis on family and community, the willingness to chip in and help with chores and all the singing, dancing and laughter that comes with the onset of every day. Every night after dinner we would play a couple of pop songs on someone's phone and dance around the living room in the dim light of the torch positioned strategically in the corner of the room. The home stays are such a unique part of the trip and while everything is so new and different here, I have been so impressed with the students' efforts to jump in and enjoy Ugandan culture. What better way than to live with a local family? It has been so exciting to witness each step of the process and I commend everyone for giving it such a concerted effort! It's not always easy to overcome culture shock and just go for it, but everyone truly has. We have until the end of the week for home stays and then we'll all be back together again for one last night at Jim's before we move on from Rukungiri. A few of us were remarking tonight on how fast this week already seems to be moving- it's crazy! We'll have to make the most of it.
I hope everyone's well at home. We will keep you updated even throughout this week as the kids finish up their home stays. Stay tuned for more pictures and blog posts.
Bye for now,