Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nile Vocational Institute

The sound of dishes clanking and metal chairs shuffling filled the dining hall at The Nile Vocational Institute – a school founded many years ago by German Christians. As Pastor Fred and I arrived, we were ushered into that faculty dining hall for tea while the leaders prepared for the workshop. Standard practice for most places of business in Uganda is to provide tea, which is likely the first meal the faculty and staff will have for the day. Tea typically consists of…tea (and bread).

The Nile Vocational Institute is a boarding and day school in Jinja where students who wish to master a trade come to learn. As in America, these students could have performed poorly in primary or secondary school and still wish to have some way to provide for themselves. They could also be students who are interested in a particular course of study regardless of their scores. Hairdressing, mechanics, brick laying, and carpentry are just a few of the many trades taught here.

Pastor Fred’s sister is a teacher here and together they arranged for me to teach a short workshop to those students who will soon be exiting the school. As is not uncommon, communication failed to reach me about the desired length and content of the workshop. I’d prepared The Art and Science of Thinking for these students. Initially the administrator expressed a bit of disappointment but after the workshop was finished she was very excited about how practical and necessary creative and critical thinking skills are in the lives of every individual, particularly those just starting off on their own. She was so excited that she arranged an impromptu workshop immediately following lunchtime for those students whose schedules allowed them to return.

I’ve been invited to return and to bring the very same content again. After suggesting it might be wise to offer the workshop to faculty so that they can teach the principles in their own classes and then reinforce them with practical application, the administrator wholeheartedly agreed. I love seeing how Jesus takes something that got a little rumpled (time and content) and turns it into something wonderful for everyone.