Online teacher Mirjam from Uganda is happy to join our series of interviews on our team. Mirjam is a passionate teacher working from Uganda for Dutch for Children. She lives with her husband and their two daughters. In addition to Dutch for Children (DfC), she works for the Dutch school in Kampala.

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Questions for our online Dutch teacher Mirjam from Uganda.

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Mirjam, you have been working for DfC since August 2022. How do you like it? And: Do you have mostly elementary school students?

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I like it very much! I like that you can connect with students all over the world and build a bond with the children through online lessons. Because they are individual lessons, you can work specifically on the student’s goals. I currently teach only elementary school students. In the past, I have also taught secondary school students. I don’t have a specific preference, and I like the variety. You have very different conversations with a preschooler than a high school student.

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You have also worked in secondary education in the Netherlands. How did you find that?

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Beforehand, I never thought I would be teaching in secondary education. I ended up in a school where some students needed extra support. Some students had learning difficulties, but other students needed more help in the area of behavior. It was a very instructive period, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.

I taught different subjects: math, nature and care, and economics. It was a vo-school in a city, so again, you had several cultures represented in the class, and I also found this very interesting. I also had several conversations with the students around my move to Uganda. It was very nice to be able to share that with the students.

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Which target group in terms of age appeals to you the most? And: what learning goals? NT2, elementary school, special education, or secondary school

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When I was a student, I had a clear preference for middle and upper primary education. After college, I immediately got a job in secondary education and really enjoyed that, too. Later, when I had children of my own, my interest in the younger child also came, and for two years now, I have also been teaching a kindergarten group at the Dutch school here in Uganda.

Teaching preschoolers online seemed like a challenge at first, but I enjoyed that, too. They are very different lessons with often an assignment and a lot of variety. NT2 teaching has increased my interest. The combination of the groups at the Dutch school and the online individual lessons is perfect for me!

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How did you, online teacher Mirjam, end up in Uganda?

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In the final year of our elementary school teacher training, we could choose to do part of an internship and research abroad. A friend knew an organization in Uganda, and I decided to go with her. We researched the different education systems.

My husband worked at the school where we researched, and a nice contact developed. When I returned to the Netherlands, we kept in touch, and after 1.5 years, I went back again and liked it. After more than a year of a long-distance relationship with constant traveling back and forth, we started building our lives together in Uganda. I have now been living in Uganda for 6.5 years.

Mirjam kijkt over waterval in Oeganda uit met in haar armen haar zoontje en naast haar haar dochtertje

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What is the difference between Dutch education in Uganda and Dutch education in the Netherlands?

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We give the Dutch education using the methods that are also used in the Netherlands. So, we have the same lesson objectives, but the interpretation is somewhat different. The students go to international schools, and the lessons take place after school. We do not have our own classroom or building because the traffic in Uganda is very chaotic. We, as teachers, travel to international schools. Because children have already learned certain things in English, such as word types or capital letters, we spend less time on them. Vocabulary and spelling is then more important to spend more time on.

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How big is the Dutch school in Kampala?

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When I started working at the Dutch school in 2017, we had around 70 students. This has decreased over time, and currently, we have around 45 students. We see that the expat world here is changing a bit, affecting us as a Dutch school.

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Do many Dutch families live in Uganda, as far as you know?

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There are quite a lot of Dutch families living in Uganda. To be honest, it did surprise me when I came to live here. Dutch families live not only in Kampala (the capital) but also in other areas of the country.

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What is the most fun thing you experienced during an online class?

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I really enjoy exchanging things from the culture and the country we live in. With the older students, I have quite a few conversations about this. With the younger kids, I’m also often building or doing crafts in class. It’s great to see that by doing activities, they achieve their learning goals!

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Do you include some of the Ugandan culture in your online lessons, or is it 100% Dutch?

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Good question! I think I do include things in conversations I have with students, but I find it hard to name anything specific.

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Name something you think your students don’t already know about you.

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At the beginning of my education, I had quite some trouble with Dutch spelling. So, practice does make perfect.

Did our online teacher Mirjam make you curious about DfC?

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Then be sure to take a look at one of the following pages: