Burim Blog #6 From Uganda–Training!

April 1, 2011 | By wickley wickley

Pabo Camp Kids, 2009

This last week the schools in Gulu were all preparing for Parents’ Day on Saturday so I didn’t get to teach all my usual students at their regular times because most of them were involved in preparing different activities for the Parents’ Day.  I was invited to every rehearsal and at first I thought they wanted me to help them perform.  But after I arrived, I realized that I was there to watch and enjoy, although the head schoolteachers asked me to give opinions and ideas to make the activities better.  They had many planned many activities for Saturday, such as drama, local dance, debate, and even a bible study group, and all of this was required from the school administration board.

So I had more time than usual this week to teach our Youth Volunteers and see how much they have improved.  I talked to them during the training and asked if they thought they has improved much since I had arrived.  We talked about the first training sessions we had when I arrived in February, and how they kept forgetting their instruments and having trouble playing the songs or changing chords, and how now they do not have any of these problems and can’t wait to come to training to show me how well they can play.

Volunteers Goofing Around After Training, 2011

They said that getting better on their instruments also gave them the desire to play for others too, like friends and family, which they are doing now but hadn’t been doing before.  And that now they think their friends like them better because they are more fun when they bring an instrument and play and entertain friends and themselves.

Volunteers Practice-Teaching, 2009

I don’t think I have taught them very much, because we only meet one time a week as a group, and then each volunteer has at least one hour a week of individual training, and the rest of our meetings are on teaching technique and lesson plan writing for the classes we teach together.  So I need to meet with them so much more because there is a lot they still need to learn.

But, all it took was getting them into the habit of practicing and playing music together, and now they are getting all the benefits of the music, the benefits of feeling good about themselves, feeling important and proud of what they can do, feeling happy and very confident, and believing in themselves.

Colins Teaching at Pabo IDP Camp, 2011

I just love seeing them play, sing, and teach. Every week we write lesson plans together for our classes and then I watch them teaching, and they are doing a very good job.  Many times they bring something into teaching that I have never thought of before, and the next time I teach I practice doing that myself and it always works.  So not only are they are learning from me, but I am also learning a lot from them, and I am looking forward to learning from each other even more.

Magada Helping Burim Teach Pennywhistle At Pabo, 2011

I have no doubts that our group of Youth Volunteers in Uganda will be able to lead the program and run all the classes and training on their own soon.  I have even started feeling like I do in Kosovo, where we just assign a Youth Volunteer to a class to teach and never worry because we know they will do a great job.

I think this is one of the most important achievements that I was looking forward to on this trip.   And I feel like it has been so great to be here and see this happening.  Thank you to all of  SMF  and to everyone who helped me come here and be able to do this.