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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Uganda

Peace Corps Volunteer Heather Rice Talks With Smith College Campus School

Once a year a few Peace Corps volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with. We've recorded some of those conversations. Today, Smith College Campus School in North Hampton Massachusetts speaks with Heather, a Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in Uganda.

Ron Tschetter
Hi, I'm Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few of the more than 182,000 volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Teacher
Hello Ms Rice! How are you?
Heather
Hello!
Teacher
Can you hear us ok?
Heather
Yeah, I can hear you. Can you hear me?
Teacher
Yes. Can everybody hear her?
Children
Yes! (in unison)
Teacher
We're very excited to hear some things about Uganda and ask you some questions.
Student
What are the most popular games the kids play?
Heather
The kids like to play soccer very much, but I think I do know from your pen pal letters they call it "football." Many of them were surprised to find out that many of you, who are girls in America, play football because here mostly it's just the boys who play. The girls call a game called "netball" which is a bit like basketball—except that you don't dribble because you play it outside in the field. Also, the very small children, they like to roll tires. They like to run down the street rolling tires either with their hand or with a stick to see if they can make it stay up or if it will fall down.
Student
What is your village like?
Heather
It's a pretty small village, although there are some that are smaller in Uganda definitely. But there is a trading center where there are little shops and places where I can go to buy flour, and eggs, and dishes, and whatever—some of the things I need. Not all of the things. There are roads leading out from that with lots of houses. There are a lot of people, but the houses are kind of spread out. It looks like an area that we would think of as kind of as being kind of rural, kind of out in the country. But there are a lot more people, because people live in houses that are kind of hidden in the forest or maybe many people live in one house. More people than we would probably have in one house. There always seems like there are a lot of people around. Yeah, and in the trading center and in my village, there are always lots of cows, and goats, and chickens around everywhere. They just kind of wander around a lot of the time.
Student
Thank you.
Heather
You're welcome.
Student
What are some special foods that Ugandans eat on holidays?
Heather
On holidays, I think that they probably eat more meat than they eat on other days. But, otherwise, I think the food might be similar. The meals might look a little bit strange to us, I think, because they have—in one meal, they might have a lot of things that we would call starches. Where we might have just have rice for a meal, they might have rice, and potatoes, and all sorts of different things like that. One of the favorite foods in this part of Uganda is called matoke. Which they make from boiling green bananas. They're kind of like plantains, that some of you might have seen. They boil them until they get soft and then they mash them. They like to eat that with their meat on top.
Child
What animal types do you typically see in Uganda?
Heather
The animals that I typically see in Uganda are chickens and goats and cows, and turkeys, and pigs. They have lots of those things that we would think of as farm animals. Lots of families keep one or two of those animals to provide their families with eggs, or milk, or whatever. There are lots of, lots and lots of birds. I've seen a few monkeys in Uganda. Usually, around where I live, I don't see any monkeys. One day, I did see a large black money and I was very excited because I hadn't seen them around my house before. Other than that, I haven't seen any of the animals that you would think of when you think of wild animals in Africa. I haven't seen too many of those yet. I think they're mostly in national parks and places like that. I hope I'll get to visit before I leave, but I haven't seen them yet.
Student
What things do you like to do there and what things do you not like to do?
Heather
laughs) That's a good question. I like talking to people in my village and I like going to work and trying to figure out what things I can do to help the school to be a better school. Especially on the days when there are lots of people who want my help and want to ask questions and learn from my experiences and I can learn from theirs—I like that. I like when I get, also, to leave where I live and come my other friends who live in Uganda. And I like, when I'm just at my house alone, I spend a lot of my time reading books—which I really like. Maybe one of the things I don't like, sometimes traveling— because traveling is really difficult sometimes. We take taxis which you share with other people who are all going to the same place. Usually they're supposed to have 14 people in them but sometimes they have more than 20 people in them so they squish you together. And sometimes from my house I have to wait for maybe three hours to get a taxi to go somewhere so I'm still not quite used to that, but I have to learn to be a bit more patient.
Student
What are some schools like in Uganda ?
Heather
Usually, it depends. Some are nicer than others. But mostly they're buildings that are either brick or cement on the outside. Usually they have benches with tables that children sit at. Most schools have a classroom for every class or for every grade. But they don't have things like gyms, or libraries, or art rooms like we have. They play outside on the school compound for recess. Usually there's an office for the head teacher and the deputy head teacher. They're pretty simple really. Some are in better shape than others.
Student
What's a typical town like?
Heather
In Uganda, there's the city of Kampala, which is the capitol. And then there are larger towns, then there are smaller villages. In my village, I can usually only buy things like tomatoes, and onions, and maybe some cabbage, but I can go to the bigger market to buy all sorts of things, peppers and mangoes, and passion fruit, and all sorts of things that I like to eat. There are many more shops, and more people, and more schools, and more organization in the bigger towns than there are in the trading center where I live. That's kind of how the towns and villages are in Uganda.
Heather
I would like to hear some more questions from you but let me just tell you very quickly about the pen pals.
Teacher
Ok, yes. Please do.
Heather
Ok, so they are working really hard right now on writing their letters. They've been working on them for maybe a week or so. I thought it was funny. They also didn't know what pets were so we had to explain to them about the idea of having a pet. And then they wanted to know, many of them you'll see in your letters, they're asking why you would have a dog or a pet like that, or a bird or whatever pet you have when you could have a cow, or a pig or something that gives you milk, or eggs, or some product like that that's useful. So I don't know, you'll have to come up with a way to answer that question—I think—about how to explain why you like to have pets that aren't useful. It's a bit of a cultural difference, I think.
Teacher
We're all chuckling over here thinking about that.
Students (in unison)
Bye! Thank you!
Heather
Thank you!
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match Program through Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information visit us online at ww.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Heather Rice

Heather Rice served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda from 2006-2008.