Good morning from Entebbe, Uganda. Yesterday I traveled by road from Beni for the first leg of the trip to the US. I'll be in the US for the month of February, with plans to return to Beni by March 7. These next few weeks will be filled with family and friends and work.
The weeks since I last wrote, just before Christmas, have flown by (I seem to reference the swift passage of time in almost every letter!). It's been a marathon sprint, and I'm neither a long-distance runner nor a sprinter. God's grace, your prayers, and great colleagues get the credit. Here are few highlights of the last weeks.
Emily Hamilton and I co-taught an 8-week English course. I enjoyed co-teaching with Emily. Preparing for two class sessions each week required substantial time, but it was well worth the energy to get to know students and take a pulse on the student body. Although our students were identified as "advanced" English students, many of them were barely at an intermediate level. This helped me get a foothold on some of the challenges we face as a bilingual institution.
My team, Faculty Development and Bilingual Affairs (FDBA), has been busy on numerous fronts. We've directed a majority of our time on the bilingual affairs half of our name, including initiating the first of an annual assessment of English competency and fluency across the UCBC community. Thanks go to many people who helped with this undertaking including junior staff members who were trained to facilitate focus groups, and UCBC library and Integrative Research Institute staff who assisted in implementing TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Over the next three weeks FDBA staff Célé, Mashauri, and Malka will transcribe focus group recordings, analyze data, and work with me to propose ways to strengthen English language learning at UCBC.
With a strong team in place and our roles and responsibilities established, I'm now turning my attention to the faculty development part of our name. From the beginning, UCBC envisioned a highly-qualified teaching staff of permanent teachers. Like many Congolese universities, we've relied on visiting Congolese teachers to teach a large portion of our courses. Slowly we are building our own faculty through faculty development opportunities at UCBC in the shape of workshops and reading groups. Church partners, grants, and collaboration with other East African Christian universities have supported a handful of UCBC teachers to continue their studies and obtain advanced degrees. One of my responsibilities is to propose policies, procedures, and strategies to boost the increase in the number and qualifications of our teaching staff. That will be a big part of my work in February.
There is and has been more to life than work, however. I'm grateful, for example, for the gifts of—
- Visiting colleagues at their homes
- Celebrating baptisms, holidays, and birthdays with friends and family here an in the US
- Moving to a new house with Jessica Shewan and Sifa Jolie (that's our house above)
- The occasional visit to Café Kivu for regionally-grown and locally-roasted coffee
As we say, "God is good all the time. And all the time God is good."
Thank you for your continued support and partnership in the work that is Congo Initiative and the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo.