As we conversed each week, I learned more about what it’s like in Uganda during this pandemic. Our peers in Uganda enthusiastically shared their stories and listened to ours with open minds. During the first meeting, there were issues with the internet connection, but the patience from both sides was remarkable. With notebooks and pens, our Ugandan peers listened to our answers then wrote them down, which inspired me because it showed their eagerness to learn about us and Alaska. On our end, we avidly listened to understand what we have in common and to see what cultural differences would arise.

In the letter from my pen pal, Jemmily, she wrote, “During COVID-19, life has become difficult because the food prices have become very expensive.” Many people are hungry and some people don’t know where to get food. Even planting vegetables and fruits seems to be unlikely because of the constant drought brought on by climate change. This pandemic has

also affected their way of transportation; one of the participants from Uganda wrote that cars and boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) are not allowed to carry passengers. Despite all these struggles, they are investing their time developing hobbies such as tailoring clothes, making necklaces, and spending time with their families.

Throughout this workshop, not only did I learn about life in Uganda, but also about life here in Alaska. As someone who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, this workshop has given me a great opportunity to learn more about the state in which I live. My classmates from Alaska shared about the plants that they grow and what animals they hunt. Moreover, I learned that there is an annual Alaska state competition for the most gigantic vegetable. Yes, I didn’t know such an event existed until recently! Meeting people from the other side of the world, even if it’s only through video calls, has been an amazing experience. I am glad to be part of this workshop. As my pen pal Jemmily wrote, “Don’t worry about asking too many questions, it’s just the happiness of knowing a new friend.”

Kim, who wrote this post, participated in "International Understanding in a Time of COVID-19," a See Stories project generously funded by the Kodiak Community Foundation's International Understanding Grant.

See Stories is launching a conversation series between a group of 7 See Stories Interns in Alaska and 7 Youth in the West Nile region of Uganda, both of whom are in "hunker down" mode and experiencing the same pandemic from opposite sides of the globe, and from opposite time zones. Both the Alaskan (hailing from Kodiak to Denali Park) and Ugandan participants are developing questions to spark conversations, and once a week will talk for an hour over Zoom for the month of May. They will explore their stories, common experiences, and process what it's like to live through this historic time. Throughout this project, generously funded by the Alaska Community Foundation's "International Understanding" Grant, Alaskan students will create podcasts, blogposts, and other media products to document conversations and stories.

Leading this project from Arua, Uganda is Gospine Gertrude pictured above on the left. Gospine has worked with See Stories' Director Marie Acemah on various projects for 7 years, and as a business woman and as a steward of her community, she brings tremendous thoughtfulness, heart, and skill to the project.

If you are interested in getting involved, supporting, or learning more about this project, you can email Thanks again to the Alaska Community Foundation for making this project possible!

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

Join us for the Alaska premier of Southern Poverty Law Center's short film,"Teaching Indigenous: The Enslavement of Our Ancestors" directed by Iñupiaq filmmaker Howdice Brown III, Produced by See Stories and Coffee and Quaq.

The film documents the nearly unknown and yet enormous role that enslavement of indigenous peoples played in the foundation of the United States, from Kodiak to New England, and from the Southern States to the West Coast.

The viewing will be followed by a filmmakers Q and A, and a one-of-a-kind performance from AKU-MATU

AKU-MATU, is the stage persona of Iñupiaq rap, hip-hop and performance artist Allison Akootchook Warden. Warden has performed all over the world, engaging her audiences with stories and themes of the Iñupiaq, paying homage to traditions and addressing contemporary issues.

Presented by See Stories, Coffee & Quaq, and Channel Films.

Kids are welcome, but the film includes content about the enslavement of Indigenous Peoples, which parents should be aware of.

Tickets cost $15 each.


See Stories is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides free youth film workshops and creates films that foster an inclusive community story. 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

  • Vimeo Social Icon
  • Facebook
  • Instagram


T: 917.312.8136