Imagine finishing elementary school and being told by your parents that after the summer holiday you were to pack you belongings and all your bedding because you are being sent to boarding school for your whole high school experience.
If you are anything like me, this might seem like a punishment- like for the bullies at school that need to be sent to boot camp to get straightened out or for the rich Hollywood type. But in Uganda, secondary boarding schools are a cultural norm. Therefore, in keeping with true African style, the oldest 10 children of LCH began boarding schools in Kampala and Mbale in the middle of February.
Last Sunday was the first Visitation Day for our Senior 1 students in Kampala. Having left Mbale very early to make our 4 hour journey to the capital city, we stopped along the way to pick up a picnic lunch of chicken and chips and buy some much craved for goodies like bread and butter, sugar, cookies, and soda.
As we reached the school, there was sea of dark bodies with bright green and red shirts. We met up with our students' main class teacher and he helped us to find them. Relaxing under the mango tree with Auntie Christine, Jarod, Paul, and Fiona, we spotted Sylvia running toward us (below on left). With tears rolling down her cheeks she hugged us. But we were concerned. "Sylvia, why are you crying? Are you sick?" She shook her head but still wouldn't answer. Then I asked her, "Are these tears of sadness or of joy?" She replied joy. So sweet. She was just happy to see us. Slowly the other students found us and it was a sweet reunion.
They shared many stories about the new friends they had made, how life in secondary school is, how their teachers are strict but good, and about their daily schedule and weekend fun. Paul and Fiona also shared about what is happening at LCH Primary School and how how they elected a new head boy and girl for the school.
The girl then showed us their dormitory. It is basically a huge room with multiple triple layer bunk beds. Though they could choose anywhere to sleep, our girls have two bunks right next to each other. (The boys said they are on opposite sides of the dorm.)
It was a wonderful day. Being my first real experience with Visitation Day, I had a lot to learn and it was fun seeing the children take the initiative to show me different things around their school or remind me that I had not yet seen the results of their monthly tests. But now with a little experience under my belt, I am ready for the next "V day".
The students get first term holidays on April 20. Although I am glad they are studying hard, it is weird not having them at LCH. This was the class that I was closest to, seeing as they were the oldest and I can relate to them better, but also because when I first arrived at LCH in 2007 their teacher went for maternity leave and they had no teacher to fill in, so I did. They were in P4 then. Now my babies are growing up :) I think I know a little how parents feel now.