Ugandan educator seeks opportunities

Crossing+cultural+boundaries%3A+Ugandan+English+teacher+Adong+Jacqueline+will+be+teaching+and+learning+at+RBHS+during+January.+Photo+used+with+permission+from+Katherine+Sasser

Crossing cultural boundaries: Ugandan English teacher Adong Jacqueline will be teaching and learning at RBHS during January. Photo used with permission from Katherine Sasser

Sam Mitchell

Crossing cultural boundaries: Ugandan English teacher Adong Jacqueline will be teaching and learning at RBHS during January. Photo used with permission from Katherine Sasser
Crossing cultural boundaries: Ugandan English teacher Adong Jacqueline will be teaching and learning at RBHS during January. Photo used with permission from Katherine Sasser
While students are away for winter break, a new teacher will travel more than 8,000 miles to come to Columbia. From Dec. 28 ­- Feb. 1, Adong Jacqueline will bring new ideas to the school while observing teaching methods to facilitate learning in her homeland of Uganda. Jacqueline will visit and teach at RBHS as part of the Invisible Children Reciprocal Teacher Exchange, which encourages students to continue their education and create a global learning environment by exploring diverse teaching methods.

Jacqueline, an English teacher at the Gulu Senior Secondary School in Kampala, Uganda said on the Invisible Children Blog, she developed a love for reading early in life and seeks to spread that love and passion to her students.
This is not the first time RBHS has participated in this program. Ongiya Calistus partnered with RBHS principal Mark Maus during the 2011-2012 school year.
“I really enjoyed my time with Calistus,” Maus said in an email interview.  “It was a completely new experience for both of us.  … I think it is a great opportunity for whoever is visiting and the students and staff of RB.”
During her visit, Jacqueline will partner with world studies teacher Katherine Sasser, who  also will act as her host. Sasser knows firsthand the challenges Jacqueline will face as she adjusts to new surroundings, but also the learning she will experience. Sasser traveled to Uganda as a visiting teacher three years ago through Invisible Children.
“My time spent in the classroom in Uganda refueled me and made me that much more passionate about working with students back in the United States,” Sasser said. “We have continued our relationship with Invisible Children and they asked us to consider hosting the Reciprocal Exchange this year.”

Uganda compared to the United States in gross domestic product. Infographic by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
Uganda compared to the United States in gross domestic product. Infographic by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
The Invisible Children allows both the visitor and the host to learn ideas from educators of a different culture while also spreading their own views on teaching students.  But in order to get the most out of the program, Sasser said students must embrace a different perspective and try new techniques.
“The potential for this exchange is limitless,” Sasser said.  “The extent to which the student body chooses to embrace Jackie … can dictate the amount of relationship that can grow between us and her community.”
Many students are excited to learn from Jacqueline; the East Africa Coalition (EAC) is making plans for her visit and helping to fund the $1,000 commitment required from the hosting school.
“We feel like she can offer a new perspective to our fellow Rock Bridge students,” sophomore Sonia Clark said, member of the EAC. “Besides that, we are giving her an opportunity she can use to gain new knowledge to bring back to Uganda.”
While this is a great opportunity for Jacqueline to learn new ways to educate her students, she will be adjusting to a new society and leaving behind her husband and son for over a month. But if all goes according to plan, Sasser said this sacrifice will be worth it.
“She will bring a cross-cultural perspective that will widen our understanding of communities across the world from us, and she will challenge perceptions and beliefs about education,” Sasser said. “Ultimately, she will help students and staff find a common understanding of the universalities of humanness as well as the uniqueness of her culture and values.”
By Sam Mitchell