She’s Our Mzungu

On Monday I had my first chance to go to Little Rina Primary and Nursery School, where the children from our Rafiki home attend.  Upon my arrival, I met some of the teachers and one started talking about the new Mzungu volunteer (Mzungu refers to white people, or foreigners, and especially out of the city center we are a bit of a novelty).  Anyways, Benda, one of the kids here was holding my hand and she says to the teacher, “She is NOT Mzungu!  She is Auntie Laura!” which was so sweet but made her teacher laugh really hard.

They start each morning with kind of a whole school assembly.  Each grade lines up and they go over calendar information and the weather.  A child from each grade comes up and leads the group in a song, dance, or chant.  Then they dismiss everyone to class.

I was with the Top Class, which is equivalent to kindergarten.  The nursery school program starts at age 3 with Baby Class.  Next comes Middle Class and then Top Class.  Next comes primary school where the grades are P1, P2, etc.

The first thing we did in Top Class, was the teacher had the children dance and sing for me.  It was awesome.  She then asked if I knew any songs, so I taught them 5 Little Monkeys Swinging From the Tree.  They loved it, and later in the week when I went to pick up the kids after school, a group of students surrounded me, shouting, “Teacher Laura!  Sing for us!”

School in Uganda primarily consists of repetition and copying from the board.  It was kind of tough to watch as this class of 36 kindergartners sat copying words from the board for the majority of the day.  I wanted to plan fun interactive lessons and games and teach them reading strategies and use the STEP test to find out how they are doing in learning to read (a little shout out to my Earle Brown friends!)  I did draw pictures for all of them to color, and then we had porridge for a snack.  The kids had a mid-morning recess and their playground was a plot across the street that had a few cars parked in it and lots of ties for the kids to play with, a big pile of trash, and a little bit of playground equipment.  They were so happy to play.  I wish I could build them a big playground and clean up the trash pile.  During recess, I mostly stood there, trying not to fall over, and children surrounded me and hung on me.  On the way back in to class, the kids from Top Class pushed the other children away from me and claimed me for themselves, shouting, “She’s OUR mzungu!”  After recess, the kids shaded the pictures I drew, then did 4 addition problems before going home at lunch time.

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