There is so much to say about this trip. It was a life-changing experience for sure. As someone who has taught predominantly ELs for my entire career, I can say this trip gave me a new perspective and appreciation for the students I've had over the years who weren't born here in the USA.
Most of my students who aren't native English speakers speak Spanish at home. I cannot speak Spanish. I can understand some (and often I can get the gist of something more because I speak "mom" than because I really understand their exact words), but generally I'm lost when parents are speaking to a translator or getting on their child's case in their native tongue. It has never bothered me because I have been in an environment/culture that is familiar to me.
In Uganda, working at the school I had the absolute privilege to work in, more often than not, during break or lunch, conversations would come up in their native tongue of Rukiga (pronounced Ru-chi-ga) and I suddenly was 100% in the shoes of my students and their families, especially those that were not born in the US (I haven't had a lot of refugee students considering how long I have taught, but I have had a handful). It made me think...while I was fine in this environment because I had two other fellows to chat with in English, I have a new appreciation for how hard it is to go into a new culture where you don't know their "norms" AND they are speaking a language you do not understand. That takes some real guts.
I only had two do it for two weeks. Doing it for months (or years) as you learn a new language and culture can't be easy! I have a ton of respect for these families anyway but now even moreso.
I'm excited to share the experience but also unpack and process it all for myself. It was truly an experience I won't ever forget. The friends I made, the bonding we did, the affirmation I found in who I am as an individual and as a teacher leader made it an invaluable experience. I can't wait to share it here.
*PS Agandi means "How are you?" It is a typical greeting you would receive in the part of Uganda we stayed in. The appropriate response is always Nee-jay which means "I am fine."