I'm starting a poetry series which will by no means be on any sort of schedule. I plan to post poetry of my own and poetry from some Ugandan poets who I've managed to find, and then discuss inspirations, related topics, etc. Hopefully I'm getting up 2-3 poems per month along with posts on other things. Enjoy.


the world is really too big
and too small.
all our conflicts springing up
and being shot down,
blown up,
or otherwise imploding.
how can someone take it in?
when do you start caring?
when do you stop?

here it seems a fact of life
that conflict is like a
neighbor who is always
loud and frowning.
he is ever around the
just on the veranda,
just there in the
trading center,
just there.

Part of this comes from talking with my fellow college tutors about the border insecurities in the region where I live. There was some small skirmishes between Sudanese settlers who are living in Uganda indefinitely, and the native Ugandan population. One of my tutors was talking about the ministry sending police/army to the region to settle things down.

It made me think that, especially in the North, with the history of the Lord’s Resistance Army, they are both used to the conflict – the older population, who is the minority – and not used to it – the younger population, the majority of whom were born at the end of or after the war. Conflict is the same in the Northeastern region of Uganda, where tribes who are traditionally cattle herders pretty much ignore modern borders and occasionally steal cattle and fight with other Ugandan natives there.

I think growing up in America, I always had that feeling that large groups of people were not going to riot or cause violence (at least in Michigan, I know other areas of the country have their own problems). I had a sense of security. Living in Uganda gives me a whole new appreciation of national security in terms of border security and legislating with native populations. And Uganda is mostly peaceful. I’m not trying to say that I am in danger or that Uganda is a dangerous place, but the fact that is it part of the cultural conversation as a normal thing is something new to me.

There are still refugee camps in Uganda for those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and for those from South Sudan. Some of them are near me, some are fairly new. Some were just completely emptied not long ago, and are now full again.


ALC Part Three: Wrapping up and lots of pictures!!

Over the rest of the week, we focused on sharing best practices and sharing what still needed some fine tuning. We went over the different components of learning to read and how those things can be practically applied in the classrooms.

We also talked about cross-content literacy – like in sciences and math, my specialty! My college students are used to word problems by now, I’m sure.

We also got this excellent software called Bloom! From a non-profit  called SIL (originally stood for Summer Institute for Language), the program makes book making SUPER EASY. The best part – SIL focuses on languages and increasing literature in local languages. So let’s say you use Bloom to write a simple children’s book in English. Then you work with people at your site to translate it into local language. You upload both of those translations to the Bloom website – now other people can download them and translate them into other languages. So as time goes by, you may have the same book in 10 or 20 different languages! (Or many, many more.)

You have to do all the translation yourself, but once it’s uploaded it’s saved on the Bloom website. The software is free of charge and comes with some 11,000 copyright free images (simple but good drawings) to use in your books. You can choose to use these pictures, find some online, or even upload your own, if a local artist wants to draw pictures for the book.

You also have the option (if there’s a printer big enough near you) to print a Big Book, on large paper. So cool! The program also resizes pages and text to fit two languages on the same page if you want.

Here’s some screenshots of an example book I made at the conference with some fellow attendees.


One of the nights after a full day of literacy craziness, there was a trip offered to a local weaving cooperative which uses looms to make large rugs and blankets, among many other things. So naturally, even though I didn’t buy anything, I still took a crap ton of pictures and some video! It’s really cool, and I plan to go back before my service is over.

The workers here use it as a small business to help them support their families and the community around them. One of the guys was super happy to give us a tour and explain how the looms and weaving worked, though I will tell you right now that I forgot most of the technical jargon.

Look at all the pretty colors!!!




Guy showing us how the loom works!

Woven things!

More woven things! I'm planning to go back here and buy stuff before I leave the country.

I’m so thankful I got the chance to attend this conference and it was hard to say goodbye to all the great Peace Corps Volunteers and staff I met from outside Uganda. But I’m already putting this knowledge to work! Currently (fingers crossed), I have plans to do some literacy mini-workshops with my tutors! I also am thinking about the best way to display lots of different instructional materials, since that’s one of the bigger concerns I’ve been seeing with my students in school practice: not enough props!

I hope this conference continues in the future and that everyone who was there got the chance to take home some passion and knowledge! It was great to see you all!

To end, here are some pictures of people making instructional materials (we had basically an arts and crafts shop at the back of the room), as well as finishing their idea quilts. This was an way to remember the important, ‘big ideas’ that participants took away from the conference. I think I missed some countries but the ones I got look awesome! Can’t wait to hear the projects they bring.

May have already posted this one but look it's people I know!

Huzzah big books! You go, Susan

Learning about farming methods!

Burkina Faso!

Hurrah South Africa - seriously this woman is legit, drew her own full size version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Celestina represent!!! Big booooks.

Dawn is making some ingenious and pretty pouch thing. South Africa!

Hello from Cameroon!

I think this is Uganda's? Hurray us!

Sierra Leone!

South Africa!


Serious Trogdor. (Jacy from Gambia)

Happy Trogdor!

Bloom! And puppets!

Yayyy Sierra Leone!