It wasn’t until a couple of days before the first spelling contest, at a small school about 20 minutes walk off the main road… that I realized the words are too difficult and too unrecognizable. When I was compiling the word list I was only thinking about giving the students a good challenge. But meeting a challenge requires more than just setting the bar out there and expecting people to jump right over it. And I'm not able to go to each of these schools everyday to coach them in spelling/phonics rules. Besides, I want the teachers to be doing that work.
The first spelling contest went surprisingly well . The P5s were excited and got the first two words correct: Fight and Cough. Then came a long string of incorrect spelling of words I don't think they had ever heard. Mix that with misunderstood pronunciation and it was a little bit of a messy contest. Though we all clapped loudly for the pupils that spelled correctly and I tried my best to steer the teachers to encourage the pupils who were incorrect. (There is a deeply rooted habit of humiliating and debasing people with incorrect behaviors/answers. )
Some of the common issues were: 1. Leaving out vowels because of mispronunciation, 2. Students not knowing the word and being very scard so just standing in silence until the teacher told them to sit down and 3. Mixing "L" and "R" sounds. Ugandan English mixes those two sounds, making it difficult to hear the correct letter. E.g. Malaria sounds like "Mahraria" when spoken, so many students spelled it that way.
It felt nice to encourage the students in any way, and I think they enjoyed the challenge. That was a good feeling; to see the students smiling and laughing in class. The P6s struggled, but tried. The P7s did very well , one student was able to spell "unanswerable", which I thought was an incredible accomplishment.
At the end of July there will be the Nkumba Catchment Area Final Spelling Contest. Good Luck Spellers!
In other news:
I had a skin infection from scratching a mosquito bite on my leg. It turned into cellulitis and i'm on antibiotics to fix it.
My neighbors thought it was a ________(too gross to fill that in) that had burrowed into my skin. They tried to lure it out with a sugar paste. So one night last week, I was sitting in the parlor room at the convent, intently staring at a spot on my leg with the sisters, waiting for some tiny monster to peek outta my leg to eat the sugar paste smeared on my skin. I laughed. (I was imagining the Dune sandworm to come barreling out like it was in search of melange.. Ha!)
The P7 girls here at St.Theresa are learning the World Cup songs with me on the guitar. If you haven't heard K'Naan and David Brisbal sing the lively and extremely catchy "Wave Your Flag", you're missing out on the excitement that has taken over this continent (and most other non-American Football oriented places.)
Pauline, Concepta, Valentino