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Friday, June 12, 2009

Arriving Home and Thanks!

We arrived safely in Des Moines yesterday on time at 12:50 a little over 30 hours after boarding the bus to head for the airport in Uganda. Each year as we travel the across country we take many "family photos" of the entire group. This year the family grew very close. The goodbyes at the airport seemed especially hard this year. I too saw tears in some eyes as we said goodbye to our Ugandan colleagues (see Fred's post below). Goodbyes are hard, but they often also signal a new beginning. I know that the relationships formed in past years continue to survive and I am sure that the relationships formed this year will continue to grow in the future. While the travel is over the academic work is still continuing. The blog will continue to be updated in coming weeks as students reflect on their experiences and work on their research projects. I know many students are planning on looking back over the posts and adding comments as well as new posts on experiences that they did not have time to comment on during the trip. So please continue to check back over the next few weeks.

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you to many people who make this experience possible.

I think I also speak for Prof Bishop and Prof Senteza when I say that the students from both universities did a fabulous job of discussion and reflection this year. In every visit you represented your respective institutions with class. Many of our speakers and hosts commented to us on the quality of your questions and your intellectual curiosity. Thank you also for your patience with logistics and not complaining when our schedule was disrupted or delayed. I enjoyed spending the last three weeks with you all.
I also want to thank our numerous speakers and hosts in Uganda. Your expertise provides insights for the students and faculty that could not be obtained through just "book" learning. I am amazed each year by your openness with our group. Thank you for all for taking time from your busy schedules and for sharing your expertise with our group.
The openness of our speakers and hosts is a reflection of the warm hearts of the Ugandan people. I need to thank all of the the people in Uganda who have their daily lives disrupted by our large family as we travel through the country. Our large group causes logistical problems for many people. Not only the staff at the restaurants where we eat and the lodging facilities where we stay, but also all the people whose daily lives are disrupted by waiting for a group of thirty to cross the road or making room for our bus to pass down a busy Kampala street. Of all the natural resources in your wonderful country, your warm hearts and welcoming attitude is the one that always stands out.

Next I want to thank all of the MUBS faculty and staff for their hard work in helping this experience become a reality for the students from both universities. The success of the program is a reflection of your efforts and dedication. This trip is not possible without your efforts. I look forward to working with you all in the future as our programs continue to evolve.

Finally I want to thank my colleagues from Drake and Des Moines who provide support for the program and help in planning, budgeting, and executing the program. And a final thanks to Profs Bishop, Senteza, and McKnight who I have enjoyed working with the last three years.

I look forward to working with all of you as we start the planning process for next year!

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