Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Leah Glidden

Leah Glidden traveled to Uganda with support from her Wheaton Community Scholar stipend, and she brought back lessons that inform her work with local school children.

Hindsight. I realize now I didn’t go to Uganda to help Uganda as much as I did to come home to America with these new eyes. As my best Ugandan friend instructed me, I came back not with stories of desperation and hopelessness, but stories of strength and joy amongst the most horrific circumstances.Sharing my experience and lessons learned in Uganda keeps Uganda alive in me.

Work study. As the coordinator for America Reads, I am always looking for ways to incorporate larger themes into lessons of literacy. During culture day I asked the first through third graders who come to the Attleboro Library to share what they thought culture was, why it was important, and what was “culture” to them. I shared my experience of living in a different culture through pictures and by making paper beads with them.

Teaching Gems. Paper beads are a common occupation in Uganda for those looking for a source of income. They are made through recycled materials and Elmer’s glue, but the finished product looks more like highly crafted ceramic or clay.

Global touch. I brought this activity to America Reads not only because it was accessible to the children, but also because it opened conversation for questions like “What if this was your one way to make money and you had to do this all day long? How would your fingers feel? Would it still be fun?” It allowed them to identify with the children in my pictures.

State of mind. Sharing my experience and lessons learned in Uganda keeps Uganda alive in me. Each time I use share what I have learned, the experience changes and extends, making me believe that it is still very much alive, active and impacting my life. I am grateful for the opportunity Wheaton gave me to have this experience, even more grateful that I am able to incorporate it in my Wheaton community.