In the midst of tackling hours & hours of teaching in U.S. classrooms, the Ugandans in our Teacher Exchange Program (TEX) have taken some time to tackle the outside world too. Their individual adventures have allowed them to experience the American culture, food, and weather outside of the classroom (and safe to say, outside of their comfort zone.) And in the process, beginning to form authentic relationships – which are the very foundation of the Teacher Exchange Program.

Kicking off adventure time after the initial orientation in San Diego, members of our staff took them on outings that go hand-in-hand with visiting Southern California: Sea World and the beach.

“Went to Sea World and saw many sea animals. Impressed at how the dolphins were responding to music. Looked at the whales, sharks, walruses, and many other sea animals. Had a ride at the Tower. Don’t ask me about the foods. A lot of varieties but similar in tastes.” -Florence

“Went to Ocean Beach.  It was such a wonderful moment seeing the breezes and being swept by the water waves, I actually swam in the ocean. Americans know how to enjoy life, not just for themselves but even their dogs.” – Florence

Once the teachers arrived at their various host cities, they made time to go out and experience the wonderment that small town America has to offer. Like food…

“People convene to dine together to show solidarity and love for each other. I’ve been exposed to new types of food, a transition from eating kwon ki dek to having sandwiches, fajitas, “black bean” hamburgers, pork roast, Chick–Fil-A , pizza, burritos and enchiladas. I feel so welcomed to the great USA.” -Samuel

“In restaurants the food is served huge and you might think you are going to share it all. Surprisingly, refills of beverages in restaurants are free – as much as you would want! A big container of Coke can cost you as much as the food in Uganda. The tea here is cold sweet tea compared to hot sweet tea in Uganda.” -Alice

“We had lunch with a friend and she actually bought my lunch.  I was so touched because it made me realize that there are people who care no matter where you are from.” -Jackie

“I have deeply fallen in love with pizza, chicken tenders served with french fries, and some of the Mexican foods.” -Harriet

“Plenty and variety of food and beverages is quite an amazing experience of my life! There is no wasting of food since facilities for preservation are abound. Any leftovers of food, even from a restaurant, is collected along to be put in a freezer unless one chooses to abandon it altogether.” -Patrick

Their extracurricular activities have included – but were definitely not limited to – hiking, movies, shopping, church, and experiencing snow (and skiing!) for the first time. Their observations about things most Americans take for granted is proof that pleasure is found in the small things.

“I attended Cirque du Soleil in 3D. When an arrow was released, it was like coming to my eyes. This made me to suddenly blink and turn away my face in fear of saving my eyes. It was fun and funny!” -Samuel

“There is total respect for neighbors. Houses have noise proofs, I think. You can’t hear noises coming from even the immediate neighbor!” -Patrick

“There have been encounters which at times left me shocked but also demystified about so many things I thought about America. There are trees around, not skyscrapers. When I saw a squirrel I thought it was a pet only to be told that it is wild and moves around the neighborhood.” -Harriet

“Went to a church service. During worship a person walked in with a dog. The dog attended the service. It is a Christian dog.” -Florence

“I learn new games daily. Speedy Scrabble, Basketball, Gestures, Jenga, and Corn Hole (target shooter!) I am now a great rock hiker, having attended one-day training at an Indoor Climbing gym.” -Samuel

“What struck me most was the close family ties that my hosts have with their parents and children. The husband does as much work in the home as the wife and respect of one another is paramount.” -Jackie

“Went to a STOCK SHOW. It was marvelous seeing boys riding on the horses. Note that once you are referred to be a bull, then know that that it is not a joke. Who tells you that clothes are meant for human beings only? I saw the sheep in dresses and pants.” -Florence

We are grateful to our TRI members whose monthly donations make programs like the Teacher Exchange possible. Learn about how to become a rockstar TRI donor [HERE].