Peace Corps worldwide have three primary goals. The first goal is to train men and women skills identified by the host country. The third goal is to teach Americans about the countries in which we served. The second goal and the focus of this post is goal two teaching those in the host country about America. The ways in which we do goal two range from conversations with students about what it is like to live in America to celebrating holidays like we do in America.
Typically goal 2 consists of convincing students that Americans are not all homosexual, we do not agree to only 5 year contracts for marriage, we do not have a machine that tells us what to do when we grow up, and that Eleanor Roosevelt did not introduce HIV/AIDS to Africans to kill them off (seriously!). Yet in the last month we got to hold two really fun events that were great goal 2 activities. One event was for Halloween and the other was a carnival similar to what we did last year.
The carnival we did as part of a day to commit our students to passing their exams at 100%! Last year the principal promised them a bull, so we have since called it the carnibull. Now we had not planned to do these games again unless the school seemed interest, because planning events with students can be hard to do. But a week before the day was supposed to happen our director of studies said, “We are excited to have those very silly games from last year again.” Well that was our queue I guess. We planned a whole morning full of games, and right on schedule the rains came and came.
The rains finally let up in the afternoon, in time for the commitment and Music/Dance/Drama presentations. But the principal put the presentations on hold so that we could play the carnival games. In the end we did four large group games: Musical Chairs, Bottle Race (racing while balancing a bottle on your head, a Ugandan favorite), Water Race (racing to fill a water bottle carrying water in your hands), and water balloon toss. The students and staff enjoyed the games so much. It is really funny to see our students get so into a game like musical chairs when no 18 year old in America would dare lower their integrity to play musical chairs. The day was very colorful, as they say, and we had so much fun once it finally happened. We concluded by giving the winners a piñata!
The next big goal 2 event we held was for Halloween. I have really gotten close to my computer club and thought it could be fun to introduce them to Halloween, a holiday they no absolutely nothing about. I required them all to dress up, which I thought was going to fail completely but they actually got really into. Creativity was a challenge as we had 4 Bushenyi PTC principals and 6 traditional African women (I needed my Uncle Mark and Aunt Dawn to be here to really show them how to dress up for Halloween), but they still put a lot of effort into all of their costumes. We judged costumes and the prizes for the best went to Dracula (who was a spitting image of Freddy Kruger) and a military soldier. Of course Emily and I got into costume as well, Emily as a black cat and me as a Bushenyi PTC student. (I borrowed the uniform of our tallest student, and still the uniform was a very tight fit. I really should have just gone as Gandalf.)
After we judged their costumes we had them go Trick-or-Treating. We gave bags of sweeties (candy) to various tutors and instructed them to only give candy if the students said, “Trick-or-Treat.” The students loved it though. One of the tutors did not understand the number of students they were getting and gave all the candy to the first group, then proceeded to give out bananas and avocadoes after that. After trick-or-treating the principal and deputy principal came to join in the festivities. My favorite quote of the night was from the principal when he was talking to the students. “I hope that you have all taken something away from this event, I don’t know what, but learn something from it.” We finished the evening by watching a scary movie, ‘I am Legend.’
I can’t guarantee that our goal 2 activities have made it so that October 31st will be celebrated across Uganda next year, or that carnivals will happen at every primary school. But I do think that maybe students learned that they could be creative and plan other events then what they grew up with. And of course I am sure they have all learned that America is a crazier place then even they can imagine!
Happy Halloween and Voting Day,