From Uganda to Cologne


Place of assignment: Cologne, Germany

Organisation: In Via Köln e.V.

Joseline comes from Uganda and did her service as a South-North volunteer with In Via in Cologne at an OGS.

Every year on 1st June, children and specifically children's rights are celebrated around the world. On this occasion, we would like to introduce you to a volunteer from the South-North programme: Joseline from Uganda decided to do her voluntary service with In Via Köln e.V. in a school in Germany and shares some of her experiences with us.

An open gate leading to Joseline's school. There are autumn leaves on the floor.
Joseline spent one year working in the OGS Lutstheiderstraße in Cologne.

“It's such a great pleasure for me to volunteer in a school. I am interested in the differences between the education system in Uganda and the one in Germany, specifically the handling of children in terms of social, emotional and psychological capabilities”

Getting to know another culture

During her voluntary service, she worked in a group with children aged 6 to 7 and engaged in several activities. Besides preparing fruits and snacks for the breaks, she enjoyed helping children with their homework, accompanying them to after school clubs or doing handicrafts with them.

Joseline is sitting at a table decorating biscuits. There are biscuits and decorating materials on the table.
During the Christmas season, the tradition is to bake and decorate cookies.

One thing Joseline particularly enjoyed was sharing insights about her home country with the children. „I tell them traditional stories from my country which they really enjoy and are eager to know more about.“ Moreover, she was pleased to be able to teach the children some songs in Luganda, which is one of the main languages spoken in Uganda, and introduced them to some arts that are typical for her home country.

"I was given the opportunity to teach some children how to make simple African crafts such as necklaces and armbands. Seeing the happiness on these children’s faces after having learned something new is really satisfying."

3 wrists are decorated with bracelets. In the middle is Joseline's hand, to the left and to the right are those of children.
The children learned how to create bracelets themselves.

Looking back…and forward

During her stay in Germany, Joseline discovered a couple of differences in the education systems of Germany and Uganda: „For example, while the education system in Germany is very structured and oriented towards the interest of the students, the one in Uganda is more result-oriented and expensive, thus not every child has got the chance to study.”

“I learned that in Germany education is free meaning that every child has a right to education and information.”

Joseline learned many techniques and activities in terms of handling children in various circumstances, especially during the Covid-19 crisis when one is required to be stricter in order to prevent the spread of the infection.

A large cloth with a self-painted rainbow and the words "Bleibt gesund" hangs on a grille. To the right of it hang small drawings of rainbows.
During the pandemic, rainbows have become a sign of hope and solidarity.

“I have been equipped with new skills and techniques that are going to aid me in my career as a teacher.”

Living in a foreign country, Joseline eventually encountered some challenges, particularly during the pandemic: „The good times of my social year were comprised with the treasurable moments I had with the children and colleagues in my project as I shared insights with them about my country and my culture - and learned from them too. I however experienced a number of challenges like the language barrier, weather changes, falling sick as well as missing my family and friends back home.“