I am so pleased to introduce you to Trine Parsons, a wonderful young woman from Medford, OR. You may recall reading a blog Trine wrote last summer after she participated in our Building Bridges Program. When Trine left Gulu, I knew she would be back. Trine returned this summer for our Building Bridges Program and stayed as an Intern working with Mother Teresa’s Primary School and Educate for Change. You will be hearing more about her internship in the next month or so. For now, sit back and enjoy her musings on the student trip and life in Gulu.
On July 8th a group of Oregonians left the busy streets of Gulu. As I waved goodbye to them, I thought about all of the memories we had created over our three weeks together. While only some departed with tears, they all departed with warm new memories. The three week trip included sixteen students and teachers from the Rogue Valley in Oregon. The trip was cultural and service oriented, connecting high school students from the USA with their counterparts in Uganda. In addition, we worked on service projects at Mother Teresa Primary School. During the trip, the group painted a large section of the school, created a mural, and provided rubbish bins, but most importantly, we loved and learned.
We did a lot in the three weeks. With our free time, we would walk into the busy markets to see all of the locals staring at us saying, “muzungu muzungu,” pointing out that we are foreigners in their land. As we entered the ten foot by ten foot tailor stalls, each one of us searched through the ocean of material to find the perfect pattern. Then came the laborious process of deciding what to make out of it. Finally Florence, the currently overwhelmed tailor, would look at us like we were crazy. Chaos. But this chaos is what we learned to love.
The sense of “African time,” as we learned, is nice. We began to find beauty in the things we would have never recognized in America. If we ate out in town, there was no guarantee the restaurant would have everything we ordered. Even if they did, we found out quickly that it was unlikely to come out promptly. So we learned to wait. We learned to sit with our group and talk. In fact, the main thing we did in Gulu was learn. We began to adapt to the lifestyle of Gulu.
During our individual town adventures, we would begin to miss the kids with their goofy smiling faces and their mischievous tendencies. By the end of the trip, each American had their own posse. Gabe and Moses were inseparable, while Emily and Prosy shared the same sassiness. It has been fascinating to individually get to know these kids. I have found out what sports they like, what they want to be when they are older, and how they have been living. It is heart breaking to meet someone who seems helpless, because in our society we see everyone who is poor as sad and helpless. But I have seen that simply is not true. The happiness the students of the school radiate is unbelievable and unmatched.
In the end, our group came for the culture, the joy, the children, and the friendships, even if we did not know it beforehand.
(Okello Calvin Joshua, an S1 GLOBAL Scholar from St. Joseph’s College Layibi upside down on the zipline at Recreation Project, Gulu).
(Students partnering with GLOBAL Scholars at the Recreation Project, Gulu).
(GLOBAL Scholars, E4C, and friends from St. Joseph’s College Layibi at Prefect Handover).
(Malia from St. Mary’s in Medford and Malia, an S1 GLOBAL Scholar from Sacred Heart, Gulu)!
Trine stayed in Gulu to continue working with the deaf students at Mother Teresa Primary School. She is learning as much Ugandan Sign Language as she can absorb, sometimes fifty new words in one day! Her goal is to create teaching videos so that future visitors and teachers who come to Mother Teresa Primary School can learn to communicate with the deaf students. In addition, she is helping us at Educate for Change with everything and anything she can get her hands on! It has been an absolute pleasure to have Trine with us and we look forward to the remaining three weeks of her internship.
Thank you, Trine!