Africa, oh sweet, Africa. Why did I choose to come to Uganda? The first reason I decided to come to Uganda was to say I have had a life-changing experience. The second reason I decided to come to Uganda was to travel out of the country for the first time. The third reason I chose to come to Uganda was to experience Africa for myself. Every day, we as United States citizens are exposed to Africa as only having poverty and lack of resources. We are never exposed to any of the good things about Africa, such as its beauty, the wildlife, the culture, the weather, and their diverse foods.
So far the trip has been a fantastic experience. I have learned so much from my classmates, our bus driver/tour guide, as well as from Professor Monica Swahn. In this blog, I will discuss the two main events that have stood out as the most impactful for me on this trip thus far. My top two choices that I would love to talk about was my first African Contemporary Dance Lesson and the second would be visiting the nonprofit organization UYDEL.
African Dance Lessons! When you hear this what comes to mind? Just dancing, correct? With our dance instructors, just dancing was not an option; we were able to learn African culture, an African song, and even the proper way to sway our hips and shoulders. The dance instructors (led by Sylar Robert Ssempijja) started us off with stretching and short dance movements, so we knew it would get intense after that. In the back of all of our heads, I believe we were all nervous because we didn’t know what would happen next. As we danced we sung a song called “Kaleba” which means see/look. The instructor told us the importance of this song which was that many of the children while going to fetch water would sing this song and look up at the birds. I truly enjoyed the African Dance Lessons because we learned so much about the history of Uganda while having fun at the same time.
On day three we visited the nonprofit organization for youth called UYDEL. This is a place where the young woman and young men are recruited for rehabilitation, mainly because they have been a victim of some type of sexual crime or experienced other hardship. They go through this program to primarily help them gain their lives back. They are offered physical activities, counseling, and they are taught different vocational skills that they can use when they graduate the program such as catering, welding, electronics & domestic installations, and hairdressing. I was so inspired by how many young ladies were there, actually working and learning.
We meet one of the social workers, and her name was Edith. She was so passionate about her work and spoke powerfully about her commitment to the program. She made us realize that the young people were not just placed there to learn skills, they are prepared for life after they graduate the program. One thing that stood out to me was while we were taking a tour of the facility, we passed pots outside that were used for cooking, and it was raining. So the catering team was preparing food in the rain. But I did not realize that the food was for us, until after the presentation. The food was terrific, and I was so surprised at how the young ladies prepared the food outside in the rain and that it was still so delicious.
So far this trip has been fantastic, and I am so thrilled how well my other classmates and I work together as a group. I was very nervous coming into this Study Abroad Program because I did not know anyone before coming on this trip. Now we have built friendships, and we have become a big family. There are sometimes when we don’t agree with each other, but that happens in every family. I am so excited that I decided to join this Study Abroad, it has been an excellent learning experience so far.