By Dr. Jim Rotholz, MCF Board Member
It is with great delight that MCF welcomes Kasia Tomkiel onto our team in Kabale. She is our very first Peace Corps volunteer and will be teaching literacy (reading and writing skills in English) to P4 level students at Kengoma for the next year and a half. But Kasia is not new to Africa or Uganda. She taught Computer Technology and English for four months in eastern Uganda at the Kaliro Primary Teacher’s College, where she also conducted workshops with the teachers on Positive Behavior Systems and with the students on HIV and malaria. In addition, Kasia managed to fix up the Kaliro PTC computer lab for a variety of student uses after it had deteriorated from years of total neglect. She received her three months of compulsory Peace Corps training in country prior to going to Kaliro. Kasia’s experience, skills, and enthusiasm are a combination that will certainly benefit her students, the Kengoma staff, and MCF. We are very fortunate to have her.
Kasia is not your typical American Peace Corps volunteer, having grown up in Poland and immigrated to the U.S. at age 10 with her parents. Sensitivity to living and working across cultures comes naturally to her, and she possesses a keen desire to immerse herself in and learn from the people she has come to serve. “I love different cultures and being immersed in them,” writes Kasia. “Prior to Uganda, I studied abroad in Costa Rica for six months in 2011, where I studied Spanish intensively. I also backpacked through Costa Rica and Panama for two months before coming to Uganda. I have also visited Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.” A 2012 graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Kasia’s maturity, enthusiasm, and warm personality seem the perfect fit for Kengoma and MCF.
Every few years Kasia returns to visit her native Poland, where her large extended family still lives. At just 24 years of age, Kasia is not only fluent in Polish, Spanish and English, but also speaks some Luganda and Lusoga—language skills she plans to use to attain fluency in Rukiga! Yet Kasia’s passion for languages and culture are also matched by her love of music, travel, and socializing. “There are many places in the world that I dream of living in,” says Kasia. “I also love all sorts of music and enjoy going to live concerts in my free time. I love being in company with my friends back in the States and I love the outdoors. Camping, hiking, swimming, and discovering natural and beautiful places are my favorite things to do.”
Her goals are to be totally engaged in life wherever she goes, which includes living a healthy, happy lifestyle. Although excited about and keenly focused on her time in Kengoma, Kasia hopes to one day pursue a Masters degree in the counseling or therapy profession. But for now, “I take each day as it comes and enjoy my days to the fullest, and so far this way of life has served me very well. [After all] Look where I am ! :).”
How did we come across such an asset? Enos Tweteise and Anita are to thank. Enos did most of the groundwork to facilitate the numerous arrangements necessary to satisfy the Peace Corps/Uganda office that MCF was a worthy partner with creditable programs and goals. It is our hope that Kasia represents the first of a long line of Peace Corps volunteers to come, thus pioneering a mutually advantageous arrangement that will benefit everyone involved—MCF, the Peace Corps, and especially the Kabale community as a whole. It is a win-win situation all around.
So welcome Kasia! We are very happy to have you on board.