Tag Archives: observations

Sharing Skills with Ugandan Teachers

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The nineteen year old headmaster – with a second level qualification – leads me to our shelter from the morning sun. We sit in the shade of a pine tree, around a locally-produced wooden table and chairs. I am warmly greeted by the other members of staff, a man in his late-teens and an eighteen year old mother nursing her baby boy, as I take a sit at the rather delicately-placed table. The school – a cobbled concoction of mud, concrete and bricks – sits almost apologetically beside some eavesdropping cows and goats. This was my first experience of being a ‘teacher-trainer’ last week.

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The Disarming effect of Ugandan Religious Fervor

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I am, and have always been, a staunch atheist with a respect and fascination with religion but a firm belief that it shouldn’t be aggressively re-enforced or alluded to, publicly. Personal experience has dictated that people who vocalize their beliefs are the same people that disregard those of others. Further being raised in the semi-rural Ireland of the 1990’s, I had a Catholic-immersed childhood. The most positive result of which having ample imagination-developing time at Mass each week. However, peculiarly I don’t find the reality of religion seeping into every facet of life in Uganda as abhorrent as I thought I would.

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Muzungu: Intitial thoughts on Uganda

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Poverty. Chaos. Laughter. And happiness. These are probably the best four words to sum up my first week in Uganda. I came to help with teacher training services for some community initiatives here and have found a new place in my heart[1].

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Pessimism Greets Victory

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Ireland tops a – grammatically adventurous – survey to win ‘goodest’ country to live. Now that in itself isn’t something that I deem worthy of comment[1] . However, the outrage (within my homeland) over the victory needs to be unpacked. Irish people greeted the award with angry emails denouncing the country’s status.

On the surface, this seems like a ludicrous concept rooted in a deep-seeded, anti-nationalistic, pessimism. A society so lacking in patriotism that any celebration of the nation leads to cries of treason. However, such a reasoning lacks an understanding of the self-deprecating and cynical nature of the Irish.

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The Wasted Third

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I started thinking yesterday after work about our relationship with our working lives. I personally really enjoy my work – I’m a teacher – and gain great satisfaction and pleasure from my job. It really got me thinking. As I speculated, I sought the assistance of a thesaurus for language manipulation. If we consider the synonyms of work we find the words toil, labour, grind and drudgery. All of which paint a Dickensian portrait in charcoal and darkness on the innocent canvas of youth. We are almost trained to believe that work – like school to many youths – is the necessary evil for enjoyment. I’ve never been (nor do I ever care to be) a member of this rather bleak club. For many though it is, sadly, the norm that they exist within.

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Art as Communal Chaos

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I went to ‘Carnaval’ in Santa Cruise De Tenerife recently and decided to conduct an artistic social experiment. Art by its very nature, traditionally, – like writing – is a deeply personal, isolated and meticulous process. An individual, or group, sets out to plan, draft and perfect something that is then brought to the public for critique. My intention was to turn this concept on its head with a simple question: can art be created without a plan, talent or indeed any direction? It was with this question in mind that I set about preparing my ‘costume’ for the Carnaval.

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Istanbul: A City of Paradoxes

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I feel like a re-ignition of this blog has been long overdue and I’ve finally found the time and inspiration. I was in Istanbul for the New Year and found that the celebration in the main square there is devoid of a countdown. Instead the festivities consisted of one lone cheerer who caused a ripple effect across the crowd. This was followed approximately thirty seconds later by fireworks. It struck me as very usual how a festival which revolves around the celebration of time could be so badly, as it were, timed. However, I came to realise during my time in Istanbul that this was just one of many paradoxes that coloured the city’s streets.

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