Education in Uganda

Okay, first order of business. Someone left me a voicemail on Tuesday while I was taking off for Africa (of course) AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHO IT IS. It is driving me absolutely crazy. I can’t check my voicemail because

  1. I don’t have international calling,
  2. I don’t have internet access yet to email someone in the states to check my voicemail for me (I’m actually blogging on Word and plan on copying these entries over to my blog when I get internet) and
  3. it is very likely that by the time I get internet access, my phone will no longer be in service.

That being said, if YOU (yes, you, wasting your precious time reading my ramblings) happen to be the person who left me a voicemail on Tuesday (around 4/5/6ish) I would like to request that you transcript what you said in the voicemail into an email and send it to me at khanom.tahrima@gmail.com. If you want to be more dramatic and/or you left me a voicemail declaring your undying love for me, you may also send me a letter to: Tahrima Khanom P.O. Box 7007 Kampala, Uganda. Chocolates are also welcome. And a pair of rain boots. And hot sauce. And posters for my future home (!!!). And music on CDs because my collection is pathetic (although I did find another volunteer who was into Bob Marley and will be able to bum some music off of him. All these Peace Corps people are so cool).

Anyway, now that we got that very pressing issue out of the way, let me tell you about my day. Today, I visited a Primary Teacher College and a Primary School in Western Uganda. As many of you know, I got accepted into the Peace Corps with the job title of “Teacher Trainer.” However, I had the chance to talk to one of the program managers yesterday and learned that if I want, I can work as a “Literacy Specialist.” This means I would be working with kids in reading while also training and building instructional materials for teachers. It’s basically the best of both worlds.

We were greeted at each school by a group of students performing traditional song and dance. I was awe-struck. What made it even more surreal was the backdrop. Western Uganda is known for its abundant lush greenery and beautiful mountains. It was so breathtaking that I found myself thinking multiple times, almost disbelievingly, “I’m in freaking Africa!” The other Peace Corps Volunteers felt the same way (although I’m starting to think we feel the same way about a lot of things, which is nice) and the kids were so adorable!

The only downside of the whole experience occurred while we were touring the classrooms. I was looking around at the different posters hung up on the wall and noticed a series of yellow papers that had statements written on them. One of them said “Pre-marital sex is bad.” This was followed by other statements echoing the same sentiment of abstinence (“Virginity is healthy for males and females.” “Do not have sex”). I found it interesting that a country with an HIV/AIDS problem is promoting abstinence as a way to decrease the spread of such diseases instead of discussing methods of safe sex and promoting the use of birth control and condoms. However, I really can’t hold it against them since the US is struggling with similar problems (according to the teen pregnancy rate in schools that teach abstinence only sex ed because THAT makes sense).

The worst of the yellow papers was one that hung casually in the corner of the room with the words “Beware of Homosexuals” written on it. It was disheartening, to say the least.

Overall though, it was very interesting to venture outside of our compound and see a bit of Uganda. Next week I find out where I will be placed!

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