Last night I arrived in Uganda after long hours spent travelling (a day and a half if the change in time zones is counted!). I would say finally but it doesn’t feel that way. This has been a journey of stretching and pushing myself and continues to be this amazing adventure where I spend every moment embracing something that I love and believe in. Today, we (Chris and I; go Uganda JFs!) got to go on a scavenger hunt in downtown Kampala; an adventure which proved fruitful and a pain in the same breath. We were tasked with finding a phone and plan, internet stick, cloth, food etc. Simple enough when all your surroundings are familiar and you are dealing with a currency that is not foreign ($1 CAD ~ 2500 shillings; good mental math practice!). Not to mention, Kampala is a bustling city! There are buses, taxis, high-rise buildings, stores upon stores and amazingly clean streets. The intensity of the city life is somewhat overwhelming coming from small little Fredericton, with sights and sounds continually grabbing your attention. Just as the city life was becoming tiring at one point this afternoon, I was reminded that blessings come in all shapes and sizes. As we hungrily wandered in search of meal, a woman asked “Where are you going?”. What started with a simple discussion with a woman that I had never met before, resulted in this humbling experience which involved tasting my first Ugandan meal (involving matooke – plaintain mushed up like mashed potatoes, poscho – made from maize and is the consistency of porridge and a goat soup of sorts – to have with the matooke and poscho) and getting a dress in the Owino market. Rose, an amazing woman with a beautiful smile, an English school teacher and mother of two, reminded me of how wonderful people can be and left me wondering why in western culture we can be so self-driven. We get so caught up in our fast-paced lives with wall-to-wall appointments that we don’t take time to ask, “Where are you going?”. We lose sight of the amazing opportunities to make someone’s day or to invest in a relationship with another human being.
*written Tuesday May, 15
A chapter experiment turned learning and growing experience for effective involvement of general members stemmed out of a game created to help the chapter get excited about the fact that I am heading to Uganda for my placement. Beginning with an activity, groups of two and three selected areas to research (including art, history, food, industry etc.). The energy mounted as members responded enthusiastically to a points system created and dove into their research. This activity not only provided a great learning experience for myself and the chapter as we discovered Ugandan economy, politics, art and much more but also provided an alternative workshop style. Moving from the more typical workshop style (intro, creation of common platform about a subject, diving into an activity to clarify understanding and wrapping up with a discussion or questions), this activity explored the ability of the chapter to adapt to situations where there was limited explanation. Chapter members were thus pushed to set their own boundaries and had the power to direct their learning. This shift from a more structured format allowed members to shift the power dynamic that commonly exists in presentations, resulting in the presenter knowing much less about the subject than the participants. The sense of empowerment and enthusiasm that developed in the presentation is a strong indicator to explore alternative models of member learning and challenges the standard templates that are commonly used during workshop development. Some potential factors that could have led to the strong uptake of this type of workshop (which demands self driven learning by participants) could include: the age of the chapter (activity occurred at the end of the month), the strong friendships (trust based relationships) and that the build-up and investment in member learning throughout the year.
I would love to hear some feedback and ideas around successful workshop structures, understanding the implications of the audience on the structure, performance indicators for workshops (and when the workshop success cannot be directly attributed to its setup), participants feedback/ideas or anything else that floats your boat.
A few interesting facts about Uganda that came out of the workshop:
- Women in parliament: 24.9% in Canada vs. 30.7% in Uganda
- In the past 30 years, industry has gone from 56% agriculture to 52% services and growing manufacturing industries.
- Economic growth rate (estimated): 0.8% in Canada vs. 5.2% in Uganda