Around the world

Around the world; a Nation Hopper's journy to teach on all 7 continents.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Sorry it's been a while, there is so much to do and so little time to do it.

On Sunday I went with Cami, a very special friend, to meet Tomi and talk to her while she is here for a visit. (If you've forgotten, Tomi founded and runs Kids Inspiring Kids).

A lot of people are asking how I got 'hooked up' with this trip, it's an amazingly simple story. Uganda and Kids Inspiring Kids fell into my lap, much like Thailand and India. I wasn't looking for my next adventure, I was idly toying with the idea of going somewhere over winter break but at the time wasn't considering anything over seas. That is until I met Cami.
Cami and I work together and started talking one day about all of the places we have traveled, like myself Cami is a world traveler and we bonded quite fast through this. She briefly mentioned that a friend of her family, Tomi, ran an organization in Uganda and she would ask if Tomi if she needed a volunteer for a month. Before the thought process could really sink in, Cami came back with a piece of paper with an email address on it and said 'Tomi would love to hear from you'. Totally psyched, I went home and emailed Tomi straight away, telling her a bit of what I did in Thailand/India, how interested I have always been in Africa, and if she had room for a volunteer over winter break. I got an email back the next day saying yes and wondering if I had any questions. Yes, she had room for a volunteer. Yes, she would love to have me come out. Yes to a dream I have been chasing for nine years.
I quickly sent back a two paged email, asking every question I could think of; how many kids did she work with, how many women, what level of English, what age levels, how many times a week I would be able to met with them, what kind of arts and crafts they liked to do, would I be able to do life lesson classes? I don't know how Tomi had the patience to sit there and answer all of my questions, but she did. We sent a ton of emails back and forth about my contributions to KIK and the logistics and I started planning.
I made lesson plans, had a folder of flash cards ready to be printed  and laminated, I had lists of games and songs to go with the lesson plans. When Tomi told me she was going to be in Austin for a few weeks I was so excited to not only meet her but to show her what I had in mind for the 4 weeks I would be staying with her and her kids.
Cami, Tomi and I had a great visit. It was great hearing Tomi's story from her and not through a computer and to hear her talk about KIK. As she was telling me about the kids and women she works with I started to get a clearer picture of just how many people KIK helps and interacts with. I quickly realized that everything I had plan was for groups of 10-15 kids, KIK works with over 500 kids.
I freaked out a little bit, my entire plan was insufficient, was I in way over my head? Could I even do this? But thanks to Cami I'm back on track. I'm shifting the focus of my visit from English to arts and crafts, games, life skills and things I can do with groups of 70 kids as well as with the women.

So here is where I need y'alls help! I'm looking for easy craft ideas for groups of 70 kids that have very simple, easy to get/pack materials. Ideas like homemade playdough, macaroni jewelry, sand paintings. Any crafts that can go with a bible/life lesson (no stealing, don't lie etc). Games that everyone can participate in like telephone or red rover. For all my seamstress friends, I have access to some sewing machines and would like to teach the 10-15 year olds how to do some simple sewing projects, possibly the women as well. If anyone has any ideas please let me know!! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Getting ready

For the last two months I've been getting a 'curiculum' ready for my time in Uganda. I've been re-creating a lot of what I taught in Thailand and India and putting it into Ugandan form. As in Thailand I don't have a formal job description in the sense of 'you will teach the ABC on day one, numbers on day two, colors on day three'. I'm taking the fun games and lesson plans that the girls loved in Thailand and putting them in some what of an educational order.
The going has been a bit slow; with two jobs, classes and sleep, I have little to no spare time. But! I have discovered this wonderful thing called coffee. (Yes. I am almost twenty four years old and am just discovering the wonders of caffeine. How did I function before this? I have no idea!). So if it looks like I don't have a bunch of stuff to show you, its 'cause I don't. But the important thing is I know what I need and how to make it happen in my head. If only there was a way to get whats in my head to a computer without having to use my hands.... like a plug or something. It plugs from your ear to the USB port in your laptop and your thoughts are downloaded... I like this idea!

I'm super stoked for this new material, A. because how much fun is it to color alphabet letters then do actual grown up work, like pay bills? B. because I learned a lesson while making flash cards in Thailand. There are no flash cards that have Asian children on them  there are no good quality flash cards with pictures of children who look like the girls I was teaching. All the flash cards I had in Thailand featured blond hair, blue eyed kids with rosy cheeks. I didn't realize this was an issue until I started to prep for Uganda. Maybe something in my brain clicked, but I sat there cutting out a white, blond child sitting on the floor and thought 'how are the kids in Uganda going to relate to this, this kid looks nothing like them.' I searched and searched, but all the flash cards I found featured Caucasian kids. I couldn't for the life of me find flash cards with pictures of African American children. This broke my heart. In my mind this is telling people that white is the only color that matters, if you can't even find flash cards of kids with different color skin, what is that skin tone worth?

So, I said screw it and made my own flash cards. Flash cards the kids in Uganda will be able to look at and say 'hey, that's me!' Kids they will be able to identify with.

Here is what I have thus far, like I said before its not much, but its a start! And if the picture looks a bit, ick, thats because it is. I don't have a camera at the moment so in order to get this picture I had to hold my laptop at an angle with one hand, move the mouse with a finger and pray I didn't drop the thing on the ground :p Hopefully my awesomely loving sister is going to let me take her camer to Uganda with me. Sshhhhh, I haven't asked her yet ;)

Monday, November 4, 2013

The next big adventure is....


Holy crap I'm excited! For those of you who don't know, I have been dreaming of teaching English in Africa since I was 14 years old. That dream is now a reality and I can hardly contain my excitement!

I'm just going to give a brief overview of what the plan is today and come back sometime this weekend with more in depth details.

In 40 days I will fly out of Houston and into Entebbe, Uganda. I'll be staying in Kampala, Uganda for a month as a volunteer English teacher for Kids Inspiring Kids. This organization is fantastic, it was started in 2006 by Tomi. It's kind of like Opportunity Foundation Thailand except KIK is an actual orphanage and home/shelter for women. Please visit her website and check out all of the wonderful things she is doing in Kampala.

I'm meeting Tomi for the first time on Friday so you can expect more of the story later :)

Soooo excited!