Mengo Secondary School

Today, Mel and I got up really early (5:30) to head out at 6am to get back to Kampala. We were to meet with the music teacher I am working with at 8:30. We arrived a little early and Pastor George took us over to the school. What a beautiful school!

The buildings are mostly made of concrete and have very clean grounds with flowers and nice landscaping. The students are all wearing uniforms (very common here) and look sharp with their school ties and logos. The school is called Menge Secondary School (pronounced Me-nen-gae I think.) We met with James, the teacher I am working with, and talked with him about the project. I explained to him what I would like to do and we figured out a schedule. It’s not exactly what I had planned, but I am making it work.

Overall my project is to compare American and Ugandan music teachers. I am the American and this teacher James is the Ugandan (in case you couldn’t figure that out. 🙂 I am filming both of us teaching the same group of students, I’ll get to interview the teacher and keep some journals of my experience and then I will transcribe it all and analyze the data. Easy peasy, right? I hope so, though I understand it will take a lot of work. I’m hoping to work hard on it during this school year and space out the chunks of work. We’ll see. 🙂

We got to watch the teacher before James teach his secondary 6 students (grade 12). They were reviewing a unit about how African music has changed since the white man showed up. It actually seemed like he was talking more to us than the students, but it was all very interesting. It’s a little weird to hear about how things changed for them once the missionaries came. It’s one thing to hear bout it in the heavily white influenced American public schools in high school and another in an African classroom with African students and teachers…and be the white people there. Not bad, just different.

James did his teaching, a lesson on non-harmonic notes, passing tones. It was long, just under two hours. But it was good. We went back to Kolping and came back after school for my teaching session. I taught a song, Lighthouse Jam, by Jim Solomon that I learned at an Orff workshop, to them. We learned the melody, and I had them put words to it, though that was harder than I expected. Then I handed out recorders and we learned to play it. Tomorrow I hope we’ll add some harmony parts and some drum lines. Plus, all of their xylophones are pentatonic (I don’t know why I didn’t figure that out last time I was here) and so I am hoping that maybe we can add some xylo parts. We will also be working on our improvisations. I think it will be a good lesson.

The rest of the team came back from Jinja later than we did and got to do their last touristy thing of the trip and see the source of the Nile River. Mel didn’t get to see it, which is a bummer, but I saw it in Feb. It’s a cool concept, but rather unimpressive in person. It’s moving, bubbling water where you see the springs coming up that feed the Nile and Lake Victoria. After that they went to Pastor George’s church and started the Youth Conference.

Tomorrow the team will head back to the Youth Conference and help run that including Mel giving her dental hygiene presentation. Yay Mel! We have collected and people donated enough tooth brushes so we brought over about 400. How amazing! Mel will be awesome up there teaching about clean teeth and gums and hopefully won’t have too hard of questions like some we have heard have been asked before. We’ll keep you posted!

I won’t be able to see it (I’m so bummed!) because I will need to be back at the school for our second long session. We will be splitting the teaching time between us and then Mel and I will return after school to have tea with the students and an informal hang out session. I think they are excited for it for the sweets that come with tea. 🙂

With that, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow’s a busy day!

3 thoughts on “Mengo Secondary School

  1. Looks like the itinerary changed in typical Ugandan fashion:) So glad you are writing as I can visualize all that you describe and it makes my heart leap. Give hugs to my friends for me!

  2. Go teeth!!!! Make sure you use the illustration about the bacteria having a party in your mouth and then taking a poop all over your teeth. I wonder how well that will translate to a Ugandan audience. You’ll be awesome, Mel. Savor the experience… and enjoy your victory tea and sweets.

  3. So excited that you’re finally doing that classroom stuff! (You’re so good at rolling with it!) Can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

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