Jordana Suriel ‘21, The Literate Earth Project, Kabira, Uganda.

Hi! My name is Jordana Suriel and I am a rising junior majoring in Sociology. This summer I worked with a non-profit organization called The Literate Earth Project located in Uganda, Africa. I spent about a month in a half in Uganda, with a Skidmore friend, working with the organization. The Literate Earth Project aims to establish literate communities in developing countries by “putting books in the hands and minds of children” (LEP website). The organization provides communities in Uganda with books, libraries, and literacy education. The position that I had was to be in charge of reviewing library practices and look for improvements within the community library. The Literate Earth Project partners with schools throughout Uganda and St. Paul KAASO Primary School was the one that I worked with. I did formal and informal interviews with children, staff and teachers about ways they thought the libraries and certain class activities related to reading can be improved. Also, with the help of the KAASO staff, my friend and I were able to organize a reading competition for the school that was held before we left. 

(This is some of the positive phrases that KAASO would have around the school.)

Moreover, I was told about the Literate Earth Project through a friend who worked in the Opportunity Program office. She informed me that the Literate Earth Project would be having an information session within the following weeks. When the organization came to Skidmore, I went with a friend and learned more about the organization. Some of my interests aligned with the organization’s mission which increased my interest. 

Furthermore, when I got the position and the funding, I set a few goals for myself for the summer. My goal was to learn how race, gender, religion, and class affect the use of resources such as those given to the community members by the Literate Earth Project. I wanted to gain knowledge on the community members’ experiences and the education system in Uganda. I tried to integrate myself fully to the experiences with LEP and KAASO, which includes partaking in traditional functions and reading and playing with the students.

Based on my experience with the search process until completing the internship, the few tips that I have for students interested in finding their own internship and participating in the funded internship awards process are:

  • NETWORK- Having conversations with people in the field that you are interested in, may get you to places that you would have never thought you would be in. Even if you do not know what ‘field’ you would like to pursue, look for interests you may have. For example, I am interested in learning about other cultures and how people social surroundings affect the individual. This led me to expand my horizons and get involved with the LEP.
  • OPPORTUNITIES- Seek different opportunities. Apply to as much Skidmore fundings and internships as you can-–– do not settle for one. Having options makes oneself feel hopeful.
  • HELP- Skidmore has many opportunities so that students can receive help with finding internships, funding, job application process and much more. Use these resources to your advantage because you will probably not find them when you graduate.                                                                       

Overall, my experience in Uganda was memorable and eye-opening. I learned more about the world and myself within that month in a half than past summer job experiences. I am very honored that Skidmore and LEP gave me this opportunity and that Uganda welcomed me with opened arms.

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