Michael Hensley is not like every other teacher at Alma High School. Instead of heading to the beach to catch some rays like most do on their summer vacation, Mr. Hensley spends his summers in Uganda, teaching.
Hensley, who teaches English at AHS, has spent the last three summers in Uganda. He uses his skills as a teacher as well as relationship building capabilities while he is there. But it is the relationships Hensley says are most important.
Hensley stays at Restoration Getaway, an orphanage, and teaches at secondary school Oaks of Righteousness. He teaches a class each week, and every Friday afternoon gets together with teachers to discuss different teaching techniques. He also partakes in fun and interesting field trips with students. They toured a bread factory, and also a factory that makes cooking oil from sunflower seeds.
But Hensley doesn’t just go to learn new teaching techniques; he loves hanging out with the kids.
“When you’re in Uganda, it’s all about relationships. There are no cellphones and other distractions that we deal with on a daily basis. It’s all about spending time with people,” said Hensley.
A civil war being fought in Uganda ended in 2006, so Hensey said all the children he works with have been raised in a post war setting. Education has been lacking as a repercussion of the war, so Hensley’s work is making a big difference in the lives of these bright young students who don’t regularly have the access to the education American youth do.
Teaching there is not really work, Hensley said, because he gets to spend time with some of his favorite people in the world every day. Each morning, he and the boys from the orphanage run. But it wasn’t about the exercise; it was just so he could spend more time with them.
Going to Uganda has been a tremendous and eye opening experience, said Hensley. It has given him a better perspective on the rest of the world, and a better understanding of what others go through, as well as making him more grateful and compassionate for what he has and for others.