We have just finished a crazy fun day at Bushenyi PTC! We are really exhausted and sunburned, but happy! I want to tell you all about it!
First, a little background...this is the final term in the Ugandan school year, and our PTC students will take their final teacher exams in about a month. Our second year students just returned from their final student teaching practice and now are focused on preparing for their pen and paper exams. Their final score is a combination of the practical (student teaching) and theoretical (pen and paper exam) scores. The students last year passed at a rate of over 99% - a real victory for the college! Before they took their exams last year, the principal had promised them a bull if they received great scores. (Seriously - a real bull - to be slaughtered, chopped up, and eaten). However, once the scores were published the students had already “graduated,” gotten jobs, and dispersed. So, alas, no bull to be had.
So, this year the principal decided that he would preemptively offer the students a bull in anticipation of their great scores. So, he proposed we create a day to celebrate them and have them all commit to getting a great score on the upcoming exams. We both thought this was a fabulous idea, as the students here don’t seem to get celebrated enough! So - we were all in for the event! And...I got put on the committee for planning it!
Being on a committee in Uganda is not as glamorous as it sounds. More often than not, the committee never meets, and when it comes up in conversation later, those who have been assigned to it usually have forgotten all about it. As Uganda has turned me into a vegetarian, I wasn’t super excited about helping out with the slaughter and butchering of a bull. I had a feeling nobody else would participate in the planning, so I decided to try to take matters into my own hands.
After a little brainstorming with Ryan and our PCV neighbor Jean, I decided it would be fun to have a carnival type of event with games to enjoy rather than spending a day watching a bull die and listening to incredibly long speeches! So, I wrote up a little proposal and submitted it. About a three weeks later (after multiple rescheduling!), the committee finally met and we discussed the plan for the day. Although, as it turns out, there was still a bull slaughtered and plenty of long speeches, we also had a morning of carnival games, a “drive in movie” outside after dinner, and a lot of fun!
Since the day was all about the “bull,” I thought it would be cute to try to organize my carnival games around the bull theme - a carniBULL! The play on words didn’t pan out too well, as carnival is not a word that Ugandans know, but I enjoyed thinking of my cleverness throughout the day and I think my fellow Americans thought it was funny too (Thanks Jean and Ryan)!
Our “carnibull” turned out to be a sort of cross between a carnival, elementary school field day, and a seven year old’s birthday party. We had to work with a really limited budget, local materials, short prep time (by the time everything got approved we only had about 4 days to get it all put together!) and the reality of trying to explain each new game to our large amount of students. So - simple, cheap, and fun was in order! We decided on pin the tail on the bull, “bullseye” bean bag toss, 3 legged race, waterballoon toss, musical chairs, human tic tac toe, and a “bottle” race for the events of the day. And, since we weren’t sure of how engaged the students would be, we decided to make the day into a sort of competition between classes. We even made a paper mache bull pinata to be given to the winning class! Almost all of the games were completely new to our students and they absolutely LOVED them! We were a little worried, since nobody in America over the age of seven would be interested in playing games like pin the tail on the bull and musical chairs, but there was no need for us to worry! The fact that the games were new and fun was enough to keep the students excited and interested! There was so much laughing and cheering (and a surprising amount of competitiveness considering the caliber of the games!) - it was a complete blast!
It was also a fair amount of craziness, despite Ryan and my best efforts to be our organized and punctual American selves. We ran the carnival for 460+ people almost completely by ourselves! The microphone that was promised to come never did, the tutors who had volunteered to help didn’t show up, the deputy principal in charge of overseeing the whole event was MIA all day, we had to start about 45 minutes late because protocol requires that no event can begin without an opening word from the “big man,” and the language barrier all created for somewhat difficult communication. But, the kids loved it, and Ryan and I learned another lesson in our continuing Ugandan education on flexibility and going with the flow! When I began to get stressed with the details of it all and my disappointment in the lack of involvement from my fellow Ugandan staff members, all I had to do was look around and see the incredible amount of joy on the students’ faces, and it was all absolutely worth it. It was a great success!!!
In the afternoon we ate a big traditional lunch, had singing and speeches, and had all the students sign their commitment to working for success on banners I had made. There was a brief “social hour” (dance!) before dinner, and a “drive in” movie showing of Invictus in the evening (for those of you who don’t know me well - I LOVE outdoor in movies! So....given the chance I had to introduce them to my students in Uganda!!). All in all, I think the students were excited and felt celebrated, and we were happy to be a part of it all!
We know the students had a blast during the event, and we’re also hoping it gave them ideas that they can take into their primary schools when they are teachers. We wanted to give them some creative ideas how with basically no money and limited supplies, lots of fun can be had! And - I think that came through too!
Although I’ve written all about the day, I think that the pictures and videos from the event really do a better job than my words! So, here’s a link to my facebook album from the day (CLICK HERE!), and a carnibull video blog is in the works! Enjoy!
Thanks for reading! We love and miss you all!