Hello! My name is Anna Edwards and I am a rising junior, double majoring in Social Work and French. This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Literate Earth Project (LEP), a non-profit organization that provides books and opens libraries for Ugandan children in an effort to increase literacy rates and create a strong foundation for learning. As a Literate Earth volunteer, I was responsible for reviewing the existing library practices in schools to assist in identifying solutions to increase engagement in learning and the use of books in classrooms.
While in Uganda I was placed at KAASO (Kabira Adult Attention & School for Orphans), which was one of the first schools to receive a library from the Literate Earth Project. During my stay at KAASO I made observations and communicated with teachers to present new ideas on how the library could be used. The ideas provided were primarily based off my conversations with students, to get their perspectives, on how the program can better build on their experience. I was able to leverage techniques from my own personal educational experience, as well as the skills I learned from working at the Early Childhood Center (ECC) on campus to help the students and teachers at KAASO improve literacy skills. With the help of my friend and colleague, Jordana, we taught library classes everyday, and planned lessons to incorporate reading comprehension, summarizing and listening skills. Additionally we worked with KAASO’s head English teacher to organize a reading competition so that students were able to showcase what they learned in our classes. Overall, I had an amazing experience being able to instill a reading culture and being a part of a community that is invested in education.
In addition to having an amazing experience teaching, I had the ability to learn about Ugandans and experience their culture. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with members of their local Rotary club, who is responsible for funding the projects that the school participate in, as well as attend a function to see the King of one of the subnational kingdoms in Uganda. I also had the chance to participate in an introduction ceremony, which is a very important tradition in Ugandan culture. I strongly believe that it is has been a privilege to experience living in a non-western country and having that experience has given me a new perspective on my personal life and has helped me become more aware of the cultural differences of other individuals.
Service is a key value in the social work major and working with the LEP has helped me put that in practice by engaging in a larger community. If anything, this experience has only helped me recognize my passion for working with children and working on an international level. This was my first time working directly for a non-profit organization and it is definitely something I see myself doing in the future.
I learned about the Literate Earth Project when the CEO Jeff Fonda came to Skidmore and gave a presentation about it. I am beyond happy to have gotten introduced to this program through Skidmore, and because of the Summer Experience Fund I got to actively participate in it!