After dealing with 20-something unruly 7th graders all year, most would think it would be crazy for science teacher Nina to want to teach in the summer. However, there was no way she could turn down the opportunity to teach in Uganda. So for a whole month this summer, she gave up reliable hot water and electricity to grow in her gratitude.
Nina traveled with Limited Resources Teacher Training, or “LRTT.” Their mission is to provide teacher training and combat high dropout rates and poverty.
What motivated her was fulfillment in her mission as a teacher, as well as gaining some appreciation for her calling. For one month, Nina lived in mountainous Kanungu with her roommate, a fellow teacher, and men and women from around the globe. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:
What had you most excited about traveling to Uganda this summer?
I love to travel, and I love to teach. I’ve never been anywhere in Africa, so it seemed like a great opportunity to travel somewhere new. I was pretty excited about seeing the village life and the schools in Uganda.
What was the best part about your journey?
That’s a hard one. I think the greatest part was working with teachers from other countries like Uganda, Taiwan, England, Scotland, and Canada. Learning about the education systems of others’ home countries fascinates me. Some teachers shared amazing ideas for classroom management and character building. It was also fun being surrounded by people in the same profession with the same goals; it meant that we got along great.
As far as the best excursion, I would say was whitewater rafting on the Nile. I was so nervous, I almost refused to go! However, I knew how much I would regret chickening out, so I decided to bite the bullet and go. It was an adrenaline rush going through the Level 5 rapids, and we even fell out once. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and for anyone interested, research Adrift. They were so well-organized and trustworthy.
What was the most challenging part?
The most challenging part was learning the Ugandan cultural norms. For example, marriage is talked about in a casual manner (I was proposed to on several occasions). Also, the family structure is different. The female is the main parent, and they would bring their children to class. They would often nurse during the lessons. The food choices were also extremely limited. The villagers mostly ate motaki (steamed banana), posho (wheat), and beans. Their diets were carb-heavy, with very little dairy or meat.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that the more technology I have, the more stressed I am. When in the village I had wifi and electricity for four hours a day, and even that much time became unnecessary. I conversed with the people around me and learned more about their backgrounds. I also learned how to salsa, draw animals, and speak some Mandarin. I really enjoyed and will miss the simplicity of the Ugandan lifetstyle.
Would you go back?
I would definitely go back. It was an amazing experience. I continue to keep in contact with several of the Ugandan teachers, and I love hearing about my students and their lessons!
Some highlights of Nina’s time out of the classroom of Nina’s trip included hiking the mountains, a safari, gorilla tracking, and whitewater rafting.