Monday, July 28, 2014

Semester of Training

New staff orientation at UCU

In June, Karl and I spent a few days in Rwanda where he conducted some Farming God's Way training for Prison Fellowship and I took advantage of the opportunity to work with the teachers from Wellspring Academy, a large Christian school in Kigali.  Some of the Wellspring teachers had attended the teacher training course at Timothy Centre last year but were not able to continue because the school holiday schedule in Rwanda did not coincide with the Uganda schedule so it was difficult for them to be away during the school terms.  They had been asking for someone to come to Kigali and help them with further training so this was a great chance to do that.  Of course, it is not possible to condense such an intense course into a two day workshop, but we were able to hit some of the highlights and they were appreciative of the help.  It is interesting that some of these teachers have been asked to provide input into the new government curriculum that is being developed for Rwanda because of Wellspring's reputation for being an outstanding school offering quality education. 
Wellspring Academy teachers

Last week we had a follow-up session with the Faculty of Social Sciences lectures that attended the intensive training we did with them in May.  It was good to have time to discuss their challenges and encourage them to keep learning and moving ahead in faith-shaped teaching.  They will be doing some work on revisions to course outlines in August so this will be an opportunity to put into practice some of the principles they have been learning.  It is not easy for lecturers to start thinking and teaching 'outside the box' of secular humanism that has been the norm for all of their years of education, but some are catching a vision for teaching for critical thinking from a biblical framework.  Exciting to see!  The next major workshop is for the Faculty of Education and Arts in September.

Another opportunity for teacher training has been with a small group of educators that is planning to begin a Christian pre-primary teacher training program called 'Master's Institute of Education'.  I was able to share some ideas about working with young children and honoring their unique educational needs to build a good foundation for creative, critical thinking and a love for learning.  Unfortunately much that takes place in early childhood education here is very poorly suited to children's needs for learning through play and discovery, so there is a lot of work to be done in this regard. Hopefully I will be able to help with a couple more training workshops for them in the next few weeks. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anniversary Safari

This month we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary on safari at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Murchison Falls National Park.  It was a wonderful getaway after a few very busy months of work and we were not disappointed by the amazing variety of animals and scenery on our trip.  The rhino trek gave us the best viewing of a baby rhino than we had seen before and we were able to watch it suckling.

Murchison Falls National Park is worth the visit just to see one of our favorite animals, the giraffe.

This lion appeared out of the bush just after we had taken a 'bathroom break'!

Then she wandered down the road in front of us in search of good drink from the river.

At one point, as it started to rain, a huge herd of over 100 elephants decided to cross the road and we just had to sit and wait.  They have the right of way!

A couple of them decided to take advantage of the mud and lay down to wallow.

We enjoyed the view from the top of Murchison Falls...

..and then took the boat cruise up the Nile to the base of the falls, enjoying the rich wildlife and beautiful scenery along the shore. 

                                              Murchison Falls from the boat

 Maybe the most unusual sight was this elephant having a nap with his trunk resting on his tusk.  Every safari here is a new experience with new adventures and we were blessed to have the time away to celebrate in such a beautiful setting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kids at University!

The activities I have been able to be involved in at Uganda Christian University have been so varied!  Much of my work has been with the faculty members, particularly in training workshops for the lecturers.  But a few weeks ago I had opportunity to observe in the Kids’ Care Centre, the preschool on site for the young children of the staff members. 

 The dean of the school of theology has played a big role in starting and supporting this centre. When she found out I had worked in the past with younger children and had helped to train early childhood teachers here in Uganda, she urged me to visit the centre and see how I might be able to help the teachers.  It was really refreshing to take some time out of working with adults and spend time observing and interacting with the young ones. 
 Hopefully I will be able to carve out some time in the next couple of months to do a bit of training with these preschool teachers to improve some of their skills so that the children they work with will have a strong foundation and will develop a true love of learning.  These young ones are the next generation of university students and future leaders of Uganda.