A Warm Welcome

By Erin McDonough

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Students line up to welcome their visitors at Holy Cross Bugembe Primary School

Jinja, Uganda–After a short bus ride this morning to the Holy Cross Primary School in Jinja, we were all shocked to see what the school had arranged for us. About 800 primary students lined either side of the driveway, singing and dancing to welcome our group. They requested that we walk in twos up to the school. Leading us was a small group of boys who were doing choreography to the music. I was, as I’m sure we all were, incredibly honored and impressed with the school. There were a few moments when my emotions had moved me to tears and I had to turn away from the students and teachers to compose myself.

Once we had gotten up to the school, we divided up and went into the various classrooms. I was so incredibly thrilled that I was able to go to a Primary 1 class (first grade equivalent). I felt right at home, although it did make me miss my little firsties! The Primary 1 students also welcomed us with a song. After we sat down, the students sang a song with motions that seemed to be a daily routine. It looked so fun, I wanted to join in! We are going back to Holy Cross Primary on Wednesday, so I am definitely going to ask the teacher to write down the song for me. The students were learning about some healthy foods, and the teacher was instructing using the actual fruit. I thought it was a great idea to have a visual aid! Shortly after, the students had “break time” so we met with the teachers to discuss their school and some of their needs.

Leaving the school brought many emotions. I was so pleased that the students and teachers had welcomed us in with open arms, although I learned many of the challenges that they face everyday. The classroom I was in had approximately 80 students, yet they were so well behaved and compliant. They have very little materials, including paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, books, etc., yet there was not one complaint. The students used what they had in order to successfully complete their work. I can’t even express how inspired I am by this school, and I am so excited that we can help bring materials to them in the near future.

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4 thoughts on “A Warm Welcome

  1. I am so enjoying reading about this Uganda experience. I was almost moved to tears when I read your description of the wonderful welcoming you had when you went to the primary school in Jinja. I am struck by the spirit of the students and teachers. They seem so happy for the little they have and are delighted by the visits. What a fabulous learning experience this is!!! It’s also quite interesting to learn of the similarly of the teaching techniques to those of the US, despite the number of students in a classroom. It seems that respect and patience characterize the environment in the schools.

    Please keep writing. I send my sincere wishes for a safe and rewarding experience.

    Joan Blewitt

  2. Great job, Margarita and company! I’m so glad that you are able to study these ideas and explore the similarities and differences between our educational systems. Thanks for sharing the blog with me and safe travels on your exploration!

  3. There is nothing like African hospitality. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chad in the 1970s and I have never forgotten how warmly I was received by Africans who had so little materially, but so much to share spiritually and culturally. No one ever forgets their encounters in Africa. They mark the soul, and keep reminding us in our mundane lives that it’s always important to make everyone feel welcome anywhere, especially when they are far from home. Keep spreading the good feelings.

  4. My husband also served in the Peace Corps in the early 70’s in Grenada. His memories of the people and experience are very much alive today. The pictures of his experience echo many of your comments. The joy and excitement of meeting new people shines though in the faces of the people he served. Their embracing life and others transcends the poverty and most basic of living conditions they experience each day. They must be thrilled to have all of you with them.

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