Today was a very busy day again and we have an early morning start tomorrow- so I am posting a blog from a student about today and hope to add more later….
Today was our second full day in Zambia and we visited The University of Zambia. I was very excited to meet my buddy Kalunga and tour their campus. It was clear on the bus ride over that I was not the only one who was really looking forward to today’s activities. Once we arrived at the University we were greeted by one of the UNZA students and escorted to a conference room. From there we were introduced to the head of the Department of Special Education and the standing in dean of students. Both of their welcoming addresses were very positive and exciting and made our team feel at home.
After briefly returning to the conference room some of our buddies started to arrive and we were given a campus tour. The campus was truly beautiful; there was a lot of greenery and open spaces. For the first time since arriving we all felt a sense of familiarity in the way that we could relate and feel like UNZA was just another college campus.
After our tour we were introduced to many more students in the Special Ed department and I was finally able to meet my buddy! It was an amazing feeling to be able to put a face to a name after communicating for so long via email. Once we were all back in the conference room we were given a presentation by the head of the department about how the college was formed, what kinds of classes the students take, and the directions the department hopes to grow in, in the near future. This was very helpful to hear and very interesting to see some overlap in curriculum, yet also notice the difference in our education.
Following this session we gave our presentation on AAC. The UNZA students responded very positively to the suggestions we provided after hearing their feedback one on one. I felt like we really made an impact on their future classrooms and children. After the presentation we had some time to help make some of the items we talked about like a narrative story, which can help improve a behavior that the teacher wishes to change in a positive and effective way.
Next it was time for lunch outside with our buddies. This was my favorite part of the day because it gave us all a chance to enjoy the beauty of their campus while talking to our buddies face to face and getting to know fun things about each other. We found out that Kate’s buddy Robert has a passion for music and was a very relatable person.
The last part of our day was giving our hearing presentation and getting some time to work with the students one on one with the hearing equipment. This was another highlight for me because we got to show the students how to use the equipment and help them do a mini hearing screening of their own.
We closed our day with a campus tour from Jen’s buddy. She was very kind and showed us her dorm room, the women’s dorms, the artwork from the art students, and more beautiful greenery. This is where I truly realized how unique each college campus is and I felt so lucky to get a small glimpse of the UNZA student’s lives. I know I was not the only member of the team who felt very moved by these students and could personally relate to them on some type of level. Although it was pressuring to lecture and teach peers our own age, we all left feeling accomplished and like we had made a lasting impact, but more a importantly lasting friendship with these students. We all hope to continue to communicate with our buddies and can’t wait for the farewell dinner with them next week.