The title pretty much sums it up. The past month at work has been a whirlwind of trainings, workshops, and conferences, and it will only continue – it is looking like it will be a marathon through the last few weeks of my time here! Although exhausting, the uptick in events that my organization has been hosting has been a great learning opportunity, and a chance for me to experience the various activities happening across the project. Here is a snapshot of a few of the events I have helped to plan and support recently.

Stakeholders’ conference: In partnership with our sister program, we hosted a large-scale national conference where we invited educational and political leaders from each of our 100+ partner districts across the country to a conference, to discuss the future of early grade reading in Uganda. Throughout our IEDP coursework we talked a lot about sustainability efforts, so it has been exciting and interesting to be a part of the project’s active efforts to bring stakeholders to the table to discuss what will happen when the external funding sources go away.

As part of the conference, we also invited some districts to create exhibitions that showcase what is happening in their districts with early grade reading. It was amazing to see the wealth of resources that teachers have created with locally available materials, to enrich instruction and their classroom environments!

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ICT rollout training: Through a grant from a major corporation, we have been able to equip the education officials who support teachers around the country with tablets for classroom observations. These tablets are equipped with a tool that officials can use during observations, which helps to provide structured feedback to teachers to improve their pedagogical practices and records data to monitor teachers’ progress over time.

Even though we spent several nights crammed seven people into a hotel room for hours, cutting out name tags and downloading programs onto tablets late into the night, it was worth it to see the excitement of the officials in receiving the tablets, and the opportunities and information it gives them access to. I still have a lot of questions around the use of ICTs in education in terms of sustainability and weighing the costs and the benefits, among other things, but I do think ICTs have the power to be really beneficial in certain areas.

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These are just a few of the things I have been working on this summer, and I still have some trips to the field and other trainings and conferences to contribute to in the coming weeks. Although it’s meant some late nights and working on Saturdays, it’s been such an amazing learning experience.

In my (increasingly rare) free time, I feel like I’ve really settled in here in Kampala, and have made so many friends. A few weeks ago, a group of us took a trip to Jinja, the source of the Nile River. We spent the weekend at a backpackers’ camp with amazing river views, where I went stand up paddle boarding. We would paddle up the river for a while, then lie down on our boards and float back with the current, watching birds and monkeys along the bank. I was not ready to leave and head back to work on Sunday!

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One of my fellow IEDPers, Radhika, will also be in Uganda for most of her internship (check out her blog here!), although she will be in Gulu, which is in the north. Last weekend, she came to Kampala and we explored the Gaddafi Mosque, the second largest mosque in Africa. We climbed 272 steps to the top of the minaret, where we rewarded with an amazing view of the city. The mosque had been on my list of things to do, so I’m glad her visit gave me the opportunity to check it off!

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Now that my time in Kampala is coming to a close, I am frantically trying to fit in as many of my bucket list items as I can. Stay tuned for my next and last blog post, where I’ll let you know whether I managed to fit them all in, and how the last few weeks of my internship went!

Hi! My name is Arianna and I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. I am getting my Master's degree in the International Educational Development Program (IEDP). This blog is to show you what my cohort and I do every day (besides drink coffee), and give you an insider perspective on IEDP. If you are interested in international development, education, or the ramblings of one Master's student, you've come to the right place! Read more to follow our IEDP journey throughout the year. If you have questions about IEDP, you can email me at ariannap@gse.upenn.edu.

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