After 8 months of traveling around the United States with the Ugandan Kids Choir, 13-year-old Irene is back home in Uganda. We caught up with her at her school a few weeks after she got home, to see how she’s adjusting to her old life.

Irene was so happy to be back home. Her favorite part was seeing her family, especially her mom, her grandma, and her little 7-year-old brother. Amusingly, her little sister didn’t make her list of favorite people to see: sibling rivalries are the same the world over!

Irene was also thrilled to eat all her favorite Ugandan foods again. She’s been eating all the chapatti (a type of fry bread) and posho (cornmeal porridge) she can get her hands on.

Overall, it’s been a great homecoming! But there are things about tour that she misses. She learned to swim and play basketball in the States, and loved both. But those aren’t common sports in Uganda, and she hasn’t had the opportunity to practice either since coming home. She also told us she misses performing. She had so much fun singing and dancing on stage – what 13-year-old wouldn’t love being a star for a day?

Most of all, she misses her tour family. Some of the children from her tour are in school with her, so she gets to see them daily, which is wonderful. But others live far away, and she misses them, and of course her tour leader “aunties.” After being crammed together on a bus for 8 months, it’s strange to not be able to run up for a hug whenever she wants.

One of the things we were most anxious to hear from Irene, is how she is doing in school. Our tour staff work very hard to ensure each child keeps up with their studies while they’re on the road. We don’t want them to be behind when they go back to school. Irene definitely wasn’t behind – she was actually ahead! “We were ahead of other kids in science, English, and social studies,” she said. “It’s only math where we were at the same level.”

Irene grew a lot on tour. She got so tall, she needed all new clothes along the way. But more importantly, she grew in her faith. Here’s what she says:

“I learnt more about God and His love. I was showed much love by the families we stayed with and this increased my commitment to God. I learned from the Bible that we should not be worried. I used to be worried so much because we used to walk a very long distance to school and sometimes rain would get us along the way. But now my mind is settled and I am no longer worried.”

It’s exciting to see her faith grow so much because Irene wants to be a pastor when she grows up!

We’re so proud of Irene! She’s learned so much in the past year, and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!