Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Last Week

Laban, my friend and counterpart, stands in our doorway in his scouting uniform. “Ah, but we will miss you.”

I hunch beneath the overhang of the library, reading to the kids sheltering from the pounding rain. “And one fell off and bumped his head!” we all chant under the tin roof.

Moses pulls his motorcycle up to our house, jogging down the little hill to our door. “I…” he begins, struggling with his basic English. He holds up an envelope. “For you, your husband say you like.” He tilts the envelope forward and its contents spill into my hands. Six small, ripe, beautiful strawberries. “I also have a chicken…”

Anitah slips me a letter. “For me I feel very sad because I am sorrow that you are going…how will I survive.”

Maudah shows up at the door with a 5-liter jerry can. “I want to send your parents my honey!” Kris and I try to calculate how much weight a 5-liter jerry can of honey is going to add to our bags. Convincing her it would take an American years to eat all that honey would be futile anyway.

“Did you hear?” says the deputy headteacher over her posho and beans. “Lightning hit the school down the road yesterday. 5 pupils were killed.”

I sit around a plastic table with a cold beer in front of me, watching the faces of the next National Directors of the Uganda Spelling Bee light up as we talk about plans for the future, about the sustainability of this project. Ben and I dream of flying back here in ten years to see our work come to full fruition.

Robert, the local duka owner, cries despairingly, “Ah, but you are leaving without having visited my home!”

The deputy principal at the college tells me, “I am going to suggest they name the library at the primary school after you.” I can’t tell if he’s joking or not.

A text pops up on my phone. Amos was in a boda accident and had to have his leg amputated. He’ll be in the hospital for the next few months. My mind churns with the opportunities that are not available to him here.

I stir the marinara sauce on the gas burner stovetop, hearing echoing laughter from next door as Kris meets with his ICT club for the last time. “Well, the first time someone asked me for a rubber here, I was very confused…”

I stare out the taxi window as we slow down to pass through a trading center. I catch glimpses, snapshots of life – a man wearing sunglasses welding a gate by the road, a woman grilling maize on a sigiri, a group of guys straddling benches and heckling a game of draughts, children running towards the well, empty jerry cans bouncing against their legs.

I sit down to write a list of who to say goodbye to, of things to do to wrap up my service, but my pen never even touches the page. Where can I even start? Will my service ever really end?

The older children beg, “I want you to take my picture with my friend!” They pose in front of the hedges, giggling and pulling each other in front of the camera.

The headteacher clucks in annoyance. “The man took the money for the bookshelves and went to Kampala. I am trying to contact one of his relatives.”

Maude types slowly on our computer, composing an email to my mother using her newly-opened Gmail account. “They are the first Bazungu to interact with me and the whole family at large and they never proved to us to be special only they were people like us.”

I swirl my steaming posho porridge in my plastic mug. The P6 teacher enters the staff room and asks me in Runyankore, “You haven’t left yet?”

The younger pupils peek shyly through the library door. “We want to read books.” They stack the tomes neatly back on the mat without being asked when the sound of a rock beating against a car rim rings out, signaling the end of break time.

The woman in the bus park shakes her head sympathetically as I desperately try to hide my tear-filled face from the crowd. I wave a ticket in front of her that is NOT for the bus I was told it was. “You should always get a seat before you pay,” she gently chides me. How can I still not get the rules here?

Our minibus rolls slowly by the twisted metal. The driver’s limp body is being pulled through the broken window. There is no sense of urgency; no emergency vehicles are coming.

I sit in the shade of a tree with my carrier volunteer, who is freshly arrived to Uganda. I am reinvigorated by her energy and optimism; I treat meeting her like a therapy session. “I started this project…I never did this, but I think it’s a great idea…I wish I had done…I wish I had known…I wish I had worked with…” Maybe she will. Maybe I did plant a seed.

I find a dime as I'm cleaning out our old suitcases. It's so small and light; it feels like toy money. I wonder - will everything else in America seem as strange?

I wave at my pupil watching over his herd of cows as I walk home from the post office. The sky stretches out over my head, and brilliant blues and greens dominate the scenery.

I wince at the sound of thunder in the distance. The lights go off a minute later and I work in the dark on my last paper, my last requirement for my Master’s degree, until my laptop dies. Five hours of power in the last three days and still 30 pages left to write.

I wait for Moses to come pick me in one of the busiest, noisiest areas of Kampala. I feel something and pick a cockroach off of my shoulder.

I stare at the movie screen as the science fiction film flickers on. Screams erupt from the speakers as the CGI effects create a scene of dying children.

I buy some Internet and search for jobs. Nope, no perfect job. Can I really justify waiting to find what I don’t even know I’m looking for? I hear of the jobs my friends back home are getting: resident artist, animal trainer, creative writing teacher of gifted youth, program coordinator at a non-profit helping America’s most high-risk young people. Listening to the wind rustle the banana leaves in the distance, I wonder how I can find something truly fulfilling.

I wake up in my bed Sunday morning to the sound of drums and singing drifting across the campus. I think about how much I’ll miss hearing church, miss music and dancing being as much a part of life as eating and breathing.

I hand Carmen her birthday present, “wrapped” in a black plastic bag. She pulls out my old Sunnydale High School t-shirt and holds it up in the candlelight. Her eyes well with tears. We don’t have to say anything.

I wet a cloth from my water bottle and press it over a temporary tattoo held to the arm of one of the P2 pupils. We count to 30 in English together and I peel off the backing. Cries of excitement and astonishment erupt. “Teacher, I want one here!” yells the smallest, pointing to his forehead.

I give Edith the first pen pal letter from America during an exam break. The whole class crowds around her, just as excited to read the letter as if it were personally addressed to them as well. Ooohs and aaaahs break out at the rubber band bracelet, immediately slipped on by Edith.

I hear a knock and open the door. The neighbor kids’ upturned faces greet me, the unspoken question bright in their eyes. Time to play?

I say goodbye. Again and again and again. I say goodbye, probably for forever.

"What's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does."

- Hagrid 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Uganda Spelling Bee

“If you have sorted out the world in one language, it becomes much easier to sort it out in a second language.” – Pauline Gibbons

Language and literacy are fascinating. What a wealth of knowledge, history, and culture that lives within just one tongue. What incredible universes the written word has opened up to us. They are glimpses into the human mind, snatches of the magic and power we have inside of ourselves. They are the cornerstones of the world we have built.

In college, I was introduced to a profession where my passion for language and literacy was combined – teaching English as a Second Language. The English language is an intricate puzzle that, when unlocked, can open to life-changing opportunities and insights, and few things bring me greater joy than to work on that puzzle with others. But as much as I love English, as much as I delight in sharing in it and despairing of it with others, I also realize how much the world would lose if every thought originated only in English.

English is not meant to be a replacement, a bulldozer razing indigenous languages and cultures; instead, it is meant to be used as a tool, a tool to make connections and exchange knowledge. This is not always the message that is communicated and, unfortunately, centuries of colonialism have wrongly placed it as oftentimes higher, more valuable, more desirable than one’s own mother tongue.

This colonial hangover is present even today in Uganda. Despite a switch to education solely in local language from Primary 1 to Primary 3, with Primary 4 being the “transition year” to instruction in English from Primary 5 to Primary 7, there is no denying that English is the language of opportunity here; whether someone is looking for a professional job abroad or in country, being able to speak English is a must. However, this attitude has led to a devaluation of native languages and a misunderstanding of how best to achieve fluency in a second language. Such unfortunate devaluation can be seen in the following words of one Ugandan:

“Children … should learn a language which helps them in the future. Not put them in brackets of a second community.”

Rural parents and community members often believe that such a language policy, attempting to ensure that a child learns in their native language in at least the first three grades, has been imposed for political reasons; they are frustrated because they want their children to master the language of wider communication, English, as quickly as possible. Some even mistakenly think that African languages are not able to deal with scientific and technical concepts. To them, a local language policy seems like a step backward to the past, not forward to the future. This is detrimental because, as any Peace Corps Volunteer knows, if a community does not embrace an idea, it will not happen.

But many in the Ugandan community, especially the rural community, are not embracing this step because they have not been informed of the pedagogical advantages afforded their children when they are they are instructed in their first language before moving on to being educated in English. It can seem contradictory, but the more time children spend learning in local language, the better they will perform academically and the more fluent they will become in their second language. For example, first language speakers of Afrikaans in South Africa, in places where English is taught only as a subject for one lesson per day, have been shown to successfully achieve high levels of bilingual proficiency in both Afrikaans and English – not being instructed in English was in no way detrimental.

If parents want their children to learn the language of wider communication, in this case English, it will take these pupils six to eight years of learning English before it can be successfully used as the medium of instruction for academic concepts. If this process is hurried, the pupil will learn neither the new language nor academic content well enough. Imagine trying to learn physics or study classic French novels with only your three years of high school French!

When it comes down to it, if a pupil is not literate in their first language, it is incredibly difficult for them to become literate in a second language. Literacy, in both first and second languages, is immensely important to individuals and to countries as a whole. It has been found, using panel data for forty-four African countries, that literacy was among the variables with a positive effect on GDP per capita growth. Literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, critical reflection, personal empowerment, creativity, and participation in political, social, and cultural spheres. Furthermore, while it’s hard to separate the benefits of literacy from education, schooling, and knowledge overall, it has been shown that literacy among women improves livelihoods and leads to better child and maternal health in addition to empowering those women to gain access to and challenge male domains. The Reading Agency has even shown that reading for enjoyment can increase empathy, improve relationships, reduce symptoms of depression and raise wellbeing!

However, first-language literacy and literacy in general face particular challenges in Uganda. There are 63 main languages spoken, none with a large enough majority for one to be selected as the national language. 52% of Uganda’s 36 million people are children below the age of 15, and 71% are not finishing primary school in time. This is caused by, among other reasons, low competence, low literacy rates, and lack of interest. In fact, Uganda is ranked lowest in the region in literacy according to a 2012 Uwezo report.

These are problems that many Ugandans are well aware of and something that two amazing Ugandans in particular decided to do something about. Peter Mugogo and Aaron Kirunda, the founders of their own business based in Kampala, decided that establishing their own microfinance company was not giving back enough to their community. They passionately believe that Uganda’s future belongs to that 52% below 15, and they realized that the literacy rate needed to be improved, academic achievement celebrated, and key life skills developed in these children in order to ensure that they were motivated to stay in school and ensure a bright future for Uganda. So, three years ago, they started Enjuba Spelling Bee, an English spelling competition for teams of three in Primary 4 through Primary 7.

Aaron and Peter

One year ago, Peace Corps Volunteers Loren Evans and Jason Economou made their own realizations. For the literacy rate both in pupils’ local languages and in English to improve, communities had to embrace the government’s local language education policy for Primary 1 to Primary 3 and possibly even a future extension of it to Primary 5 or Primary 7. This meant boosting the status of indigenous languages, developing the orthography of languages if necessary, providing teachers with professional development, and increasing the amount of available written materials in local languages. Thus, the My Language Spelling Bee, a local language competition for Primary 3 pupils which I wrote about last year, was born. 

This year, as one of the National Co-Directors, I have had the incredible privilege of being able to witness the birth of what I and my Co-Director, Ben Ferraro, truly believe is a model Peace Corps partnership with dedicated, hardworking, and passionate Ugandans. 

My Co-Director, Ben, working on the My Language Spelling Bee in Arua district.

Enjuba Spelling Bee and My Language Spelling Bee, along with the Ministry of Education and Sports, have joined together to create Uganda Spelling Bee, offering in-service teacher trainings, a P3 local language spelling competition, and a P4 – P7 English spelling competition across Uganda. We believe that this national initiative, besides just being incredibly fun, will help primary school pupils and their school communities understand the importance of both first and second language literacy. This awareness and these competitions will, hopefully, in turn, increase literacy rates by training teachers in learner-centered literacy instructional techniques and by helping pupils learn key life skills, ignite their curiosity, become inspired to stay in school longer, and develop pride in their mother tongue as well as improved competences in English. It’s a lot to put on one project, but if anyone can do it, Peter, Aaron, and their team of highly-educated, caring Ugandan volunteers can do it. 

Michael and Juliet, two more volunteers from Enjuba Spelling Bee

This month has been the beginning of the culmination of a year’s work for Uganda Spelling Bee. Recently, the Runyankore/Rukiga My Language Spelling Bee finals and English Spelling Bee semi-finals were held at the Primary Teacher’s College where Kris and I live. The response, excitement, and anticipation of this year’s events by the community were overwhelming. Our reach was much greater than last year due to the new partnership and due to the fact that ownership of this project has been almost entirely taken on by wonderful community partners in Bushenyi district, partners such as Mugisha Laban, who have embraced Uganda Spelling Bee and taken it far past where I ever thought it could go. In-service teacher trainings revolving around spelling bee practices and learner-centered teaching techniques were held during the second school term and school, district, and regional-level competitions, run almost entirely by Ugandans, proceeded from there. The Runyankore/Rukiga My Language Spelling Bee alone reached over 10,000 pupils, 275 teachers, and 190 schools in the Southwest overall – and that’s just one of the six language regions Uganda Spelling Bee is currently operating in.

The day of the competition was filled with music, word lists, and excited pupils practicing under the shade of nearby trees. 

Paul Benz, the Music Man!

Kris and Immaculate enjoying the entertainment.

The Deputy Principal of the college opened the event by speaking of the importance of local language literacy and the role it plays in achieving second language competence. He urged teachers to continue the learner-centered literacy practices they had learned and praised the event as a project that supported the celebration of academic excellence and that now belonged to the community itself.

The preliminaries for My Language Spelling Bee and the English Spelling Bee were held side by side, with brief musical interludes, before lunch.

The English Spelling Bee pupils were a bit shy and nervous at first, so the judges had the pupils take their spots and quiz their teachers!

This adorable 8-year-old pupil did a great job in the My Language Spelling Bee.

The MLSB judges conferring.

A small break before lunch.

The college students and scouts helped us serve.

Olivia, my P3 pupil.

After lunch, all attending watched the My Language Spelling Bee finals, with pupils spelling words like omuhingánzima and ekiteetéèyi, until only one child remained.

Then came the English Spelling Bee finals, with the primary school pupils impressing all of the adults present by tackling words such as endogenous, paradigm, and xenolith.

Everyone, of course, received certificates and the top three My Language Spelling Bee finishers received donated books, games, world maps, and academic supplies for themselves and their schools. 

Laban closing the ceremony.

The winning pupils from my school.

The Southwest Uganda Spelling Bee team! Minus Robert Hahn, that is.

Letting off a little steam after a long day.

The top three English Spelling Bee teams now move on to the National Championship in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, on October 17th - an exciting prize in and of itself for the public school children, especially since some have never been outside of their own district or ridden a bus before. It’s going to be an extremely exciting event, and I invite all of you to be a part of it by liking Uganda Spelling Bee on Facebook and Twitter. Please, follow along and give these amazing pupils your moral support on their big day!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Pen Pals Wanted

Primary schools consist of classes P1 - P7. Here are my super cool P7 pupils, ruling the roost at Bushenyi Demo.

Christopher Mutarebwa, the Primary 7 Library Prefect, ducked into the library the other day to return a textbook he had checked out (yes, Ugandan textbooks are among our most popular books in the library – these kids!) and take out another. As I was working to sort the newest shipment we had received, he approached me and, after the usual greetings, eagerly asked me, “Teacher Heidi…can you get for me a pen pal from America?”

Christopher, age 14

Christopher is a great pupil, hard worker, and incredibly ambitious. He goes to school during the day and tends to his family’s cattle in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. As he walks through the grassy, rolling hills and overlooks his grazing long-horned cows, he dreams of attending university in England. It’s a dream that I know is within his grasp. He has constantly impressed me and some of my favorite cross-cultural conversations in Uganda have been with this 14 year-old boy.

So, of course, I said he could have a pen pal. His face lit up and as he left for class, I returned to labeling the new books (OK, reading them, reminiscing about my childhood, and then labeling them), pondering who I knew in the U.S. that would make a good match for him.

The bell, an old tire rim that a lucky pupil is permitted to beat with a rock at the beginning and end of every break, sounded for lunch. As I put my work down, I turned around to close the library’s shutters and was treated to the sight of a swarm of P7 pupils running down the hill towards me. They crowded around the window, yelling and laughing in English and Runyankore, and after a minute I finally made out the gist of what they were trying to communicate – they all wanted pen pals from America too! I grinned and promised that if they organized themselves and gave me a list of the names and ages of everyone who wanted a pen pal, I would try my best to get all of them one.

Some of the P7 pupils who want pen pals, post-swarm.

Few things are more impressive to me here than the ability of pupils, aged 4 to 14, to handle themselves and their classmates in an orderly, mature, efficient fashion. Three minutes later I was given a beautifully handwritten list of the P7 pupils who were dying to make a friend in the States.

Staring at the list of hopefuls, I thought back to when I was a child. I was lucky enough to have pen pals from all over the world. I got air mail letters from Australia, the Philippines, the U.K., and beyond. Nothing was more exciting than seeing those red and blue envelopes arrive and reading stories, both strange and familiar at the same time, from kids my age across the globe. I even kept in touch with one pen pal, Leticia, for years and still remember her fondly.

I want, so much now, to give that experience to these pupils, these kids who work from dawn until dusk but with any free time that they have are always in the library studying, giggling over books with friends, or patiently reading to the little ones. I want to help them create life-long friendships with other kids who will share their passion and excitement.

If you know someone around the ages of 10 to 14 who is interested in a long-term correspondence with a Ugandan around their own age, please let me know either by commenting on this blog or emailing me at While none of these pupils have their own mailbox, the school does have a P.O. Box the next town over and I can facilitate the first exchange of letters.

I really do believe that it would not only be a wonderful chance for my Ugandan pupils but also for American students as well. It’s an incredible cross-cultural opportunity to learn, grow, and expand your horizons – these kids have a lot to offer. And they’re pretty funny too. 

They wanted "snaps" (pictures) taken to show their future pen pals. Some of the ages are rough approximations as most rural Ugandans don't have birth certificates and, in general, don't celebrate birthdays. 

Arnold, age 14

Daphine, age 12

 Dianah, age 13

Edith, age 12

Loyce, age 13

 Rhina, age 13

Ruth, age 12

 Sandrah, age 13

Shanitah, age 12

Shinabellah, age 12

What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.  
~Author Unknown

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Getting Used"

“Eh, you will get used!” It’s a refrain I, and many Peace Corps Volunteers here, have heard time and time again from our Ugandan friends. Whether it’s the sun, the food, or the incredibly subtle facial expressions, we’ve all been waiting until we are “used.”

It’s almost two years in now, and I finally feel like I have (mostly) learned the rules, know how to play the game, and can finally tell when someone is saying yes with their eyebrows. I get what’s going on around me now, especially when it comes to public transportation, and it’s actually a really great feeling.

Last week, I hopped off of a matatu at the Mbarara bus park, ready to head to Kampala. There weren’t any buses from my preferred bus line, Global, around yet, so I headed to the waiting area. I wound my way into the group of wooden benches covered by a plastic tarp, stepping over bags and chickens trussed up for the journey. Pushing my way in to a seat in the middle, I waved my money in the air, just like everybody else, desperate for the ticket seller’s attention. It was a crazy day for travel – the bus park was jammed to the brim and people were paying full price for all the way to Kampala, even if they were planning on getting off halfway, just to get a seat. After I got my ticket, one of the last available for the next trip out, I left the seating area and stood over where I estimated the bus was going to arrive. The sun was beating down, my shoulders were aching from carrying my backpack, and there was a speaker blasting right behind me, but I was going to get a window seat, damn it.

After about a half hour of waiting, a Global conductor – one of the many men and women swarming around in yellow Global lab coats – signaled for everyone to form a line; the next bus was arriving. I dashed into the wave of people swarming for the point in front of the conductor’s hand. The line was starting not far from where I had guessed it would and I could practically feel the breeze on my face from the window, taste the roasted maize that I would buy out of it for my lunch. I held out my arms and continued to push forward, elbowing away people who were trying to dodge ahead of me and taking full advantage of the extra heft my backpack gave me. As the fervor died down and the queue settled in, I stood not far from the beginning of the line with my body pressed up against the woman in front of me and with the person behind me directly up against my bag. The line had become almost a singular entity with not a millimeter of space between anyone in it for, as we all knew, even the smallest amount of space in the line would be tantamount to an invitation for another person to try and squeeze in.

As I watched the Global bus unload its previous cargo and passengers and waited for it to move forward, I leaned on the strange woman in front of me with not a thought for my personal space and realized, with some surprise, that it all felt completely normal. In fact, sandwiched in my prized spot in line, I was actually calm and comfortable – and a little smug too.

Yeah, I’m “getting used.”

"Happiness comes from...some curious adjustment to life."
- Hugh Walpole, Sr.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Peace Corps Cribs: Uganda

Welcome to our home as married Peace Corps education volunteers in Uganda! This MTV-style Cribs video was filmed by our friend and fellow PCV, Matthew Dahlberg, with special guest appearances by more friends/fellow PCVs, Carmen and Amanda.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Amazing Race Comes to Bushenyi!

A new group of Health and Agriculture trainees arrived in Uganda two months ago. Like my Education cohort did, they completed their “Boot Camp” and have moved on to stay with host families for intensive language training. The Southwest group, about 9 volunteers in total who will be placed in the Runyankore/Rukiga language region, is staying in Bushenyi Town, not too far from me and Kris. They attend language classes in town six days a week and every Friday, Kris has arranged for them to compete in…The Amazing Race: Uganda! If you’re not familiar with The Amazing Race, it’s reality TV show where teams of two race around the world to complete various tasks in different countries. It also turns out to be a great concept to adapt for language learning.

Part of Peace Corps language training is known as “community experience." This involves the trainees being set free in the local area in which they are staying and told to use the language tasks that they have been learning. They are supposed to practice greeting, ordering food, haggling, finding transportation, and, of course, talking up the Peace Corps with whomever they can find. It sounds fairly simple but in reality, as any language teacher knows, that's a monumental assignment for a student, especially when they're an adult. The uncertainty, fear, and exhaustion of being in a new culture coupled with attending classes eight hours a day, six days a week means that most students are too reluctant, too nervous, or just plain too tired to take their own initiative to practice their new language in a real-world context. 

One way to combat this is to give learners more specific assignments to complete. Creating guidelines and a safe, predetermined space to practice mitigates a lot of the anxiety adult learners can feel. After all, when you’re speaking a brand new language to native speakers, you really do feel like a child again a lot of the time! Add this idea to the fact that, when you’re American, you will naturally turn these tasks into a competition, and The Amazing Race: Uganda is born. The prize? Homemade baked goods, of course, from a selection of the six I’m able to make here. There are few things a Peace Corps trainee dreams about more than food (sorry, friends and family – they still love you).

So, each week, Kris has been traveling around Bushenyi Town and speaking to our Ugandan friends, asking them to provide tasks and interact with the trainees in local language as part of the Amazing Race. In a fringe benefit that we weren't expecting, the locals have absolutely been loving it. It means a lot to them to see foreigners really making an effort to get to know who they are while caring so obviously about their language and their culture. Plus, it’s funny to see a bunch of Americans running around frantically, trying desperately to remember the word for bananas.

This week, the race came to our trading center and schools! Kris set up tasks around the area and I waited at my primary school while Kris “released” the teams five minutes apart in Bushenyi Town. They had to travel by public transportation to our trading center, complete four tasks and one detour, and then travel back again.

The first clue:
You have to haggle for almost everything here, including transport, so 10,000 shillings can go fast if you're not good at bargaining!

Second clue:
Those might have been our clothes that the trainees were washing...

Third clue:
Immaculate has actually seen the Amazing Race, so she was super excited!

After talking to Immaculate, the trainees were given a fourth clue directing them to my primary school. Upon arriving, they had to enter the Primary One or Primary Two classroom and be taught a song by the pupils and teacher. My headteacher and deputy headteacher were there to greet them when they arrived, bemusedly shaking hands and directing the sweaty Americans to the correct classroom block. 

Each class presented its own challenges and advantages. Hope, the P1 teacher, was very strict about pronunciation, but she had written down the song for the trainees and allowed them to sit in the back with the class. 

Rebecca, the P2 teacher, was less strict about pronunciation, but she wouldn't let the trainees write anything down and made them stand in front of the class to learn the words.

Such good sports!

It is a simple song that the teachers sing with the little ones when it's time to practice handwriting: 

Kampandiike gye
Kampandiike gye
Kampandiike kurungi
Ndyaba karaani!

Let me write well
Let me write well
Let me write so very well
I will be a secretary!

Its length didn't make it any less difficult to sing in front of a class, however! But with the promise of baked goods on the line, the trainees performed beautifully.

Receiving their next clue from the primary school secretary.

The last clue involved a trip to the banana stand clear at the other end of the trading center. The volunteers had to haggle the price down to a reasonable 2,000 shillings and hope that they had enough left out of their 10,000 shillings to make it back to Bushenyi Town!

The set aside items might also have been from our grocery list...

It all ended up in a sprint to the finish line between two of the four teams, with one victoriously claiming their prizes of no-bake cookies and coffee cake. Hopefully, however, everyone also left with a better understanding of how to navigate around Uganda, a greater proficiency in Runyankore, increased confidence, and some good, albeit ridiculous, memories. 

"That was fun, but it wasn't fun."
- JJ from the Amazing Race