Emotional Rollercoaster

By Katie Cryan


Boys at Kalumgami Primary play with a ball they made from plastic bags.

Jinja, Uganda– In The United States, people often hear the phrase “we are very blessed.” Although many people agree with this expression, there are times where it can become forgotten or clouded by minor setbacks experienced throughout the day. As a result, we cannot fully understand the term “blessed” until we immerse ourselves into the turmoil and distresses of another country’s happenings. Consequently, our group’s experience at Kalungami Primary School was filled with laughter, tears, and the acknowledgement of the many blessings provided within the U.S. education system.

During our time at Kalungami Primary School, we were able to interact with a different group of students. Such differences consisted of tougher personalities, rougher appearances, and a more impoverished home life. That being said, these differences are facilitated by a more rural and agricultural based society. Due to the community’s reliance on sugar cane many young boys are expected to work in the fields, therefore sacrificing their opportunity to get an education. In addition, this dilemma has caused families to make low salaries, due to the fact that they do not own the sugar cane crops or the land. As a result, these children are attending school without food in their stomachs and other essentials.

Seeing young children attend school with empty stomachs can be very heartbreaking. However, it is even more painful to have the same students offer you an abundance of fruits and vegetables. When we received this very generous gift, a majority of us felt overwhelmed, sad, and forever indebted to this school and their students. Although this may seem like a simple gift, it is inevitable that this amount of food is more than what these students will ever see in a lifetime. With that in mind, my fellow group members will go to bed with a lump in their throats, and ache in their hearts, and a feeling of being very blessed.


Our Fulbright group with teachers at the Kalungami UPE Primary School

2 thoughts on “Emotional Rollercoaster

  1. Visiting classrooms in other cultures and other countries opens our eyes to how graced we have been in our lives. When I first got to Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s, I was unaware of some of the limits on supplies my students confronted. When I decided it was time to test the students, I had to give them a week’s notice of the test–not so much so they would have sufficient time to study, but rather to find a piece of paper to use as their test paper. Many of my students would follow a smoker until he might finish his pack of cigarettes just so they could ask him if they could have the emptied cigarette pack to open and smooth out as a paper on which they could take the test. To this day, whenever I see someone tossing an empty cigarette pack, all of those memories of my African students come flooding back to me.

  2. Realizing the great wealth many of us possess in the United States is humbling and the realization that people who are impoverished can still be generous causes one to do some deep soul-searching. Thank you for sharing. Be Well! I’m so happy that you are taking part in this experience, Katie.

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