“Exchange is a chance to learn and explore things we would never learn when we stay in our very places”

Francis Kalema from Uganda works as director and teacher at a music school in Kampala. He talks about his experiences as a Team works! participant in Germany, how he came to music  and how his personal story motivates him to take action for others.

Francis Kalema

Francis Kalema from Uganda studied business administration and is a passionate musician. After his studies, he founded the non-governmental organisation Africa Music School in Kampala, of which he is the director and where he teaches children and young people.

The interview

What is your field of expertise and where do you work in Uganda?

Francis: My expertise is in the music field because I am passionate about music. I joined music at the age of six starting with percussion then later on upgraded to other instruments like Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba etc. I love playing and teaching music. What makes me even happier is when I see music impacting children's lives in Uganda. That's why I have a vision of establishing the first Music University in East Africa.

As I was abandoned at the age of three by my family and ended up on the streets of Kampala and in orphanages, I know how it is to spend months without food or shelter. Music is a tool for me to help children whose families have no money to take them to formal school and most especially to those that cannot afford a musical education. I work as the founder and executive director of the Africa Music School Organisation in Kampala, Uganda. I coordinate the financial support for the school and help finding sponsors for some of the children’s formal education. We also pay food for some of the kids that cannot afford food at their home as well as hospital bills when kids are sick.

What do you do during your Team works! assignment in Germany?

Francis: During my assignment at the Berufsfachschule für Musik in Kronach, Bavaria, I spend my time doing research, learning from my fellow teachers and students, making notes, making friends and connections as well as trying to use this chance to study as much as I can. With the help of the headmaster Mr. Schurmann I'm getting some ideas of how schools manage their staff members, students, materials and learn new strategies so that we can achieve our goals like other international music schools.

I have met lovely people both musician and non musicians and have been in different places including Wuppertal, Berlin, Bonn and Bad Staffelstein. With the first year class of the Music History Education, I also visited the Richard Wagner-Museum in Bayreuth.

Can you imagine that even during this internship I got a chance to learn how to play a piano? Something I used to admire and never thought to come true, but now in my 30's I'm granted this huge chance to study and explore more.

What can you learn from your German colleagues?

Francis: My colleagues are always welcoming, hardworking, working in teams, punctual and straight, determined, ambitious, visionary and focused to achieve their goals.

What is the most surprising thing for you during your assignment in Germany?

Francis: I always admired opera music and when I arrived in Kronach the school had already organised a special teacher for me and I have been learning how to sing the basics and learned the technics. As I speak, I have done my first song called "Strike the Viol" by Henry Percel, so in other words I have learned skills I used to admire in other people.

When I paid a visit to Wuppertal, I was surprised at how the train works in that town compared to the rest of the cities in Germany (editor's note: overhead railway). It is a bit scary moving upside down but also fun. I had a chance to ride with it from the start to where it ends and returning and it amused me of how it was built above the river.

I was also surprised that the month of April has four seasons in one day.  What I'm trying to say is that one day we experienced snow, hail storm, rainfall and then sunshine on that same day. I also will not ever forget that day playing in church accompanied by the organist – that blew me off.

It is so good that people of different backgrounds gather in one place for the same cause and exchange ideas of how they can make this world a better place.

Why is the topic of youth exchange important to you?

Francis: This exchange is a chance to learn and explore things we would never learn when we stay in our very places. When your travel and learn from others it's always good for someone's own mind set. It is so good that people of different backgrounds gather in one place for the same cause and exchange ideas of how they can make this world a better place. For instance, I met these lovely colleagues that asked me to teach them a traditional song from Uganda. I taught them the song "Nfunda Nomubi Ngazala" which the student liked so much and performed at the school’s final concert.

When you are granted a chance to do an internship in Europe, it is good for your CV and it's easier for some to connect with the world as well as find a job later.

What experiences will you take home with you?

Francis: In Germany I sang in the choir for the first time in my life and I have realized the importance of it to the children in school. So I hope to start a school choir as soon as I return to Uganda.

I have been also taking music lessons from Mr. Grund, the deputy music teacher. He taught me music I can study and practice and guided me on how I can improve my music playing performance and teaching. I always wanted to build a bridge between Uganda and Europe and I got this chance to meet many new friends and experienced people. Many of my new connections also want to come and visit Uganda, see our culture and why it’s called the pearl of Africa. In addition I'm also taking many musical instruments back to Kampala donated by Individuals and schools like Pina-Bausch-Gesamtschule in Wuppertal with which the famous German tuba player Daniel Ridder connected me. Over all, what I have learned in Germany will make a very big change in my life and impact a lot of my goals and visions to achieve.

Francis is founder and director of the in his hometown Kampala, where his non-governmental organisation is working to support children and young people by helping them discover their talents through music.

Africa Music School

You can find more impressions, information and news from the Africa Music School on their Website, Instagram and Facebook:

Instagram: africa_music_school_org

Facebook: Africa MUSIC School Organisation

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