Uganda Blogs- Rhiannon Gilley
This past winter break, 7 of our members had the opportunity to travel to an orphanage in Entebbe, Uganda. Now over a month since their return, they reflect on how this experience impacted them.
Over winter break, I was granted the opportunity to revisit Malayaka House, a self-sustaining orphanage—nay, family—in Entebbe, Uganda. I am beyond lucky to have revisited the community, with my first trip being over Spring Break 2018. A group of us from Empower Orphans PSU stayed on the compound and had the privilege to spend every day with the children. We played card games, jump rope, had races, played soccer, read books to one another, made friendship bracelets, practiced our writing skills through letters, reviewed concepts learned in school, but most importantly, we spent time with one another.
We were all engaged in a cultural experience, learning from one another about holiday traditions, daily routines, and each other’s skills, goals, and long-term aspirations. While we discovered some cultural differences, we uncovered way more similarities between all of us as individuals.
As an education major, being able to have experiences with a range of children is insightful and meaningful. In class, I have learned about teaching methods, how family structure affects learning and opportunities, literacy and the development of it, and more, and was able to witness this knowledge in real life in through the lives of each individual child. I was able to put to action some teaching methods when engaging in reading practices and tutoring with the kids.
I learned so much about the lives of children, the people and culture of Uganda, how to live sustainably, and international relations, including multicultural awareness and civic responsibility. I can now share this knowledge in my future classroom and also engage in a conversation about my experiences, to shed light on the reality, both the beautiful and the heartbreaking, that exists, not only in Uganda, but throughout the world. I can use my experiences at the orphanage, and from traveling to and living in within another culture to guide the choices I make in terms of curriculum and practicum. I can engage in meaningful conversations on cultural diversity and also celebrate this in my future classroom, so that all students can grow up seeing a positive piece of themselves in the materials they engage with, the conversation they hear, so they can feel confident in who they are. This experience will forever be a part of me. The children of Malayaka House will forever be ingrained in my mind and hold a piece of my heart.