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Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 4: Secondary Schools Morning Session

As we pulled up in the bus to City Secondary School, a private boarding school, we were greeted with a sign that said, "City Secondary School Welcomes Students of Drake University of USA to the Interact Day." Next we started hearing music that was played by the brass band of the school, which was such a warm welcome. Many Drake students felt moved and touched by the welcome, some even said they got a little teary eyed. After the band escorted us to the main room of the school, the Drake students sat in the front where we were introduced and welcomed again. Next, the Head teacher of the school made a speech and started it off by saying, “Next time you come, don’t call, and just come! We love having extraordinary people of your caliber.” He then proceeded on giving us a brief background of the school and education in Uganda. Some things that he touched on were that they have a primary level which is ages 6-12, and then the secondary level, ages 12-18. At the secondary level they have 16-20 subjects, but the required ones are; Math, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Geography. There are two different levels in the school, A-level which is the advanced students, and the O-level which is all of the other students called the Ordinary level. He later discussed how they are trying to improve their sustainability by teaching the students and having them learn. Without this they would not have an education so they are able to sustain themselves in the future as well as educate their future children. In education when students are embedded with sustainable themes within the curriculum, and in the life of the school, it develops the children as global citizens and equips them with skills, values and attributes for learning, life and work.

After that our professors from Drake University were able to speak a little to the students. One thing that Professor McKnight said is that they all call us extraordinary people, but we all agreed that it was the Ugandans that are the ones that make us feel like extraordinary people, like today when the band came out to welcome us. After that we were then able to watch two of the native tribal dances. The first dance was from the Buganda tribe, where they sang and danced to the rhythm of the drums. The next dance was from a tribe in the west, and we noticed that it was more of a story they were telling with their dance. All of the outfits were extremely beautiful and unique to each tribe. The all had more material around their hips so when they move their hips it is more of a dramatic movement. Talking with the Drake students after, a lot of us discussed how we have nothing like this in America and how much we love that their tribal dance is a tradition that has and will last for a long time.

After the dances, a group of students put on a small skit about HIV and AIDS. All of the Drake students and the Secondary students really enjoyed the skit that they put on. There were a lot of parts that were very funny and creative, but the message in the end was very strong. In the skit a young girl hangs out with a friend that is not a good influence. This friend ends up taking her to a club where she gets drunk off of red wine and starts dancing with a guy. Throughout the play the young girls sisters is very upset with her sisters actions and how she had been lying to her mom, but in the end the sisters words were not enough to keep the young girl away from all of the problems. She ended up having sex with the boy she was dancing with that night. Later on in the skit she went to the doctors and has tested for HIV and AIDS. They also showed her sister and the girl that was a bad influence getting a test too. In the end the young girl was 2 months pregnant and was HIV positive, and the girl that was the bad influence was also positive. The good sister ended up being HIV negative because she made smart choices throughout the skit. In the end the skit had a powerful message for the students so they realize how important it is to practice abstinence so they do not end up in situations like the young girl. It was also interesting as a Drake student because a lot of us in school did similar skits at the secondary level. A lot of our schools would put on skits about alcohol and drug abuse, which is more of a problem in America. So I enjoyed seeing how we both have the similar approaches of teaching and creating skits to help the students understand how important these topics are.

After the skit we were able to go up to the art room and look at some of the art projects that the students have done. A lot of us were very impressed with the quality of the artwork and you could see how much time the students put into it. I really liked seeing that they still encouraged a lot of fine arts in Uganda, something that we are struggling to keep alive in America right now. Not only was there the artwork, but the skit, the dancing as well as the students singing all exemplified the fine arts. After that we were able to participate in doing a traditional art project that a lot of people do in Uganda. The project was something very similar to tye-dying in America, but the process was very different. We got our pieces of cloth wet and then scrunched them together and used a dye that they mixed together and randomly poured it onto the cloth. Some students used a variety of colors, while others just used one color. After pouring on the dye we washed the cloth again and then let them out to dry, and they turned into beautiful cloths of art. Talking to some of the students from MUBS they said that some people are so talented that they use this process to make designs and animals on the cloth, which a lot of us believed would be very difficult.

After we did out artwork we got into groups and headed to lunch, where we were able to connect with a group of secondary students. They were able to ask us a lot of questions about our background and America, while we were able to find out more about them and their culture. A lot of the students loved getting to know us and wanted to take picture after picture with all of us, which none of us really minded. Overall I think a lot of people enjoyed this day the most so far because of the connections and friendships that we made with the students. All of the students truly touched our hearts and I hope we did the same for them.


  1. Good job Jenn! It's encouraging to read that "educators" worldwide employ similar methods such as skits to encourage behavioral changes. In the US, many social marketing campaigns build upon educational programming --with the enormity and severity of HIV/AIDs, are there marketing messages to the general population? What kind of social marketing program might be effective given the characteristics of the population and area? This is one of my research areas -- so if you are interested, let's talk after I arrive later this week.

    *Dr. Adkins*

  2. I have to agree 100% on the part about us being extraordinary guests. We definitely aren't, but the people here makes us feel that way. They are so kind and generous! Their hospitality is absolutely amazing. I loved the visit to the secondary school. I really enjoyed getting to see the tribal dances because like you mentioned, we have nothing like this in the United States. The skit about HIV/AIDS was also really good. I like that they are getting across a strong message in a fun way. It definitely makes it much more interesting instead of just being preached at all of the time.
    I also loved how much the school incorporated real life situations into the school curriculum. They had a farm and numerous different types of animals to make sure that kids left with schools that could help them in future careers if they didn't continue with University.
    Getting to participate in a traditional art project at the school was extremely fun as well. I really enjoyed getting to do it, and seeing all of the artwork the students had done was amazing. I too was shocked at how much the school focused on fine arts since these tend to be the programs that are cut first at many schools in the US. It was great knowing that the fine arts aren't just thrown away here but encouraged.
    This experience was truly amazing. I was amazed at how much I learned from the students, and I hope they learned a lot from me as well. I have so many pictures to help keep this day alive since as you mentioned, they absolutely loved being in front of the camera. This is definitely a day I will not soon forget.

  3. I also agree that we were treated as 'extraordinary guests'. The students and staff at City Seconday School gave us a taste of what it is like to be a celebrity for a day. Not only did they welcome us as celebrities, but the students talked to us as if we were perfect and knew the answers to all of their questions. It was a strange feeling to be so highly regarded by people, and at times I felt somewhat guilty that I did not live up to the standards the students had in mind of Americans. We are not perfect, but realizing that students here think we are made me want to work to live up to their expectations. Our visit to City Secondary School had a huge impact on me and I will remember the day as well as the children forever.