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Kodiak Student Reflects on Connecting with Ugandan Youth During COVID-19

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.

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