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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preparing for Uganda 2011

The faculty are looking forward to returning to Kampala in a few weeks and introducing a new group of students to our colleagues from MUBS.  Each year brings new and different experiences as we continually work to improve the learning experience and strengthen the collaboration between Drake and MUBS.  This year we made a large amount of progress on our goal of building a sustainable relationship of student and faculty exchanges.  During the year we hosted a delegation of faculty and staff from MUBS on the Drake campus, this was followed by a visit by Colin Sentongo, chairman of the MUBS council, and next week Principal Waswa Balunywa will be visiting the Drake campus to discuss the next steps in building our partnership.  Additionally later this week, Diana Ntamu will arrive in Des Moines to team teach a graduate seminar on entrepreneurship with Prof Bishop!  It is exciting that our collaboration has moved forward, now on to the topic of sustainable economic development.   This year's class is spending the next two weeks presenting their background research on Uganda and it seems like a perfect time to get them involved with the blog.  So the professors have an assignment for this year's class:  Please comment what you learn from listening to your classmates presentations - What "aha" moments did you have? What new information about Uganda did you learn?  How has the new information changed your expectations for the upcoming trip and for the prospects of sustainable economic development in Uganda (you should comment on a presentation other than your own, but can relate that presentation to your own research). 


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  2. First off, these presentations helped me realize that we're leaving in two weeks. I'm pumped!

    I think the presentation that really put Uganda's financial situation into perspective for me was the one presented by the healthcare group. As Americans, we have very accessible health care (in comparison to other countries), and I have never ever considered the fact that some countries don't have the funding to test blood for various diseases. The idea that blood is not generally tested for Hepatitis in Uganda really shocked me.

    On a more positive note, the business presentation gave me a little more insight into the fact that not every country depends on oil and car production. Personally, I am so caught up in our own commerce, that I don't even consider the means of business in other countries. Naive, I know, but completely true. I really enjoyed the business presentation, and I can't wait to learn about this in Uganda.

    The presentations did change my expectations for the course. I believe that I will be broadening my international horizons more than I can imagine when it comes to commerce, and healthcare. I only know the happenings of the US, and it's about time that changes!

  3. I agree with Erika – these presentations really put the proximity of this trip in perspective, we are going to be in Africa in two weeks!

    All of the presentations thus far have been very thought provoking. I thought the journalism and media presentation was very interesting. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the differences between the independent newspaper and the government run newspaper. I visited these websites after the presentation and found the differences in the scope of the stories they report remarkable. The presentation on healthcare stood out to me as well. It really hit me how vast the differences in our cultures are, and how fortunate we are as Americans in regards to healthcare. Access to healthcare in Uganda is limited, and deathly diseases are more prevalent. Hearing the statistics that were presented and learning this information is important, but I do not think I will understand the extent of their poverty and current circumstances until I am in a rural village talking with affected people.

    These pre-trip meetings and presentations have significantly changed my expectations of the trip. Learning more about the culture, government, media, healthcare, and current economic situation will enable me to ask more specific questions once I am there. Since I did a presentation on Business and Microfinance in Uganda, I am excited to learn and research more about this topic as well.

  4. I'll have to agree, that my biggest 'aha' moment, is definitely how fast this trip is coming up!

    The presentations were very mind opening for me too because I tend to be extremely focused on the area I have grown up and know here in the United States. I was extremely shocked to see such a significant difference in the two main newspapers in Uganda. I understand one is independently owned and once is owned by the government, but it still came as a shock to me. I was also really intrigued by the information on radio and television in Uganda because I had not really thought about it before the presentation. It was definitely interesting to hear about, and I am kind of excited to experience what Uganda has to offer when it comes to communication of current events. I was also really surprised to hear more about the economic situation of Uganda since I am so stuck in my own little world here in the United States. I'm extremely excited to get to experience it first hand.

    This new information has definitely made me more excited and curious for our trip and experiencing the new culture that I will be surrounded in. Learning more about Uganda has also helped me to better understand where to take my research and what I can ask to better benefit by research. I am extremely curious and excited to finally get to experience everything we have learned about, and all of our pre-trip sessions have just made this emotion stronger.

  5. Over the past few months I have been reviewing blog entries from past seminar participants and asking lots of questions to my colleagues to prepare for this trip. This week, I suddenly realized the trip is right around the corner -- for the students it is merely days away -- for myself, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Root, and Dean Edwards it is a little over 1 1/2 weeks away...but it will be here soon. Am I prepared? Not quite... but here are some things I have learned...

    This week I was fortunate to have dinner with two colleagues from MUBS -- Diana Ntamu, the director of the Entrepreneurship Center at MUBS, and Principal Waswa Balunwya.

    I was intrigued to hear about the growing number and role of women as entrepreneurs--many starting out with microfinancing options. It seems "going into business" gives many women new opportunities including feelings of empowerment, a greater sense of self-worth, and, of course, some extra financial resources for themselves and their families. I wonder how the female small entrepreneur in Uganda differs from the "home party" entrepreneur in the United States. [NOTE: home party-- think of women who sell jewelry (Lia Sophia, Premiere, Silpada, etc), baskets (Longaberger), makeup (Mary Kay, Avon), candles, personalized gifts (ThirtyOne Gifts), scrapbooking supplies (Creative Memories), and household products (Pampered Chef, Home Interiors, Tastefully Simple), etc.] I wonder if the motivations and intrinsic rewards are similar...

    Another area that intrigues me as a marketing professor is the market system within the country. From my conversations I expect to see both formal markets and many, many informal ones. How these markets expand will effect how the economy develops. I am excited to see them for myself -- Dr. Bishop has assured me that I will be able to find a hairdryer that won't "melt down" if I go to a market in Kampala...that might be one of my first outings :).

    In terms of my own research and interests, I am looking forward to learning more about the Ugandan's sense of identity particularly when many are part of what traditionally is considered a stigmatized group in the western world -- namely, the poor. Dr. Mitchell and I also hope to explore the intersection of consumption and business with faith practices such as the pilgrimage many Ugandans and East Africans will be taking to the Martyrs Day Shrine during our visit. We hope to chat with our students and the MUBS students about this as well--so think about it, observe it, and share your thoughts with us.

    I look forward to meeting up with the students and other colleagues on the 27th...and in the meantime, my sons and I will be following this blog.

    Safe travels!

    My best,

  6. T-Minus four days! As I'm packing up all of my things and giving my research proposal a second look, I'm on the same page as all of those who wrote above: Already?!

    I think my 'aha' moment came during the education presentation, that's when I realized what I was mostly working forward to on the trip. This was for a couple of reasons.

    While I was abroad last spring in Spain, I nannied for a Spanish family and part of my responsibility was to help them with their studies. We did worksheets and flash cards and talked about their teachers. My favorite part of spending time with little Rodrigo and Luisa was seeing how they reminded me of my own little siblings, who are also still in grade school. While I certainly think it will be interesting to observe the classrooms and work the students there are doing, what I'm most interested in is getting to know the students themselves. Rodrigo and Luisa did it in a different language, but they still seemed to have all the same arguments, play the same games and tease each other in all the same ways as my siblings do back in the States. I'm excited to see the games Uganda children play and spend time with them just being kids.

    This relates to the broader topic of what I'm most looking forward to during the trip, which is meeting people. You can read as many books, blogs and presentations as you want and you can visit dozens of tourist destinations, but the real way to learn about a place and culture is to spend time with it and its people. I can't wait to get to know the MUBS students and the other people we encounter. I'm looking forward to getting THEIR take on our topic of sustainable development and seeing how it contradicts and/or reaffirms what we've been discussing. I'd like to learn from them the ways in which they think improvements can be made and also, what's already going right.

    It's one thing to study a place from afar and craft opinions from across an ocean and another entirely to be there to learn. I'm sure that just one month from now, we'll all have so much to add to the foundation of knowledge we built researching our presentations.

  7. My aha moment was realizing how much I didn't know about the culture in Uganda. I was completely oblivious to how different things are there, and watching the presentations really opened my eyes to that.

    Learning so much from the presentations has made me even more excited for the trip. Now I can anticipate how much I am going to learn in just three short weeks! The most shocking presentation for me was the media presentation. I totally take for granted the rights we have in the United States. I couldn't believe how much the government influences their newspapers. We are very fortunate to have a constitution that is actually enforced and not violated in secret. The health care system also amazed me. I figured that medical services were just a given, but in Uganda they do not always have access to health care. The presentations were a huge wake up call to the privilegies we have in the United States and how different things will be when we travel to Uganda.

    The presentations have really changed my perspective on the trip and on myself. I have realized how closed-minded I am about the world and the issues that are going on in other countries. This trip will help me learn about a culture that is so very different from my own, and I am looking forward to a humbling experience that makes me appreciate what luxuries I have. The concept of sustainable development has intrigued me from the start, and I think it is something that many people should understand. There is not just one solution to economic problems, and this opportunity to see so many aspects of the economy will help me realize which areas can be improved to help the system as a whole.

  8. I, like everyone who has already posted, cannot believe that our trip is only four days away. When I decided to go to Uganda in February, I was constantly telling people that I was "going to Africa this summer", but I never really thought the time would actually come. Today I went shopping to get my final things for the trip and can barely contain my excitement. I am extremely eager to experience every single aspect of our trip.
    Hearing all of the presentations really put this trip into perspective for me. I did not realize that the lives of those in Uganda were so drastically different from ours here in the United States. My 'aha' moment actually came while I was doing research for my group's project on healthcare in Uganda. After reading some articles, I had a picture in my mind of hospitals that look just like those here do. Further in my research, however, I decided to google image 'hospitals in Uganda' to see if there were any pictures. I was extremely surprised that even the biggest hospitals in Uganda look so drastically different from ours. It was then that I realized the different way of like the Ugandans live compared to us.
    Growing up on a farm in Illinois, I have not experienced cultures other than my own. I am so excited to travel to Uganda and get a first-hand experience of what like is like there. Although there are many books and TV programs explaining life in different countries, I feel that the only way to truly understand is to experience another culture for yourself. I feel that this trip will change my entire outlook on life.

  9. I can’t believe we are leaving on Wednesday! Spring semester went by extremely quickly this year.

    Like Ann, I think the “aha” moment came for me during the education presentation. I realized that children in Uganda do not have the opportunities that we have in the United States. We make the assumption that we will go to K-12th grade at least, but the children in Uganda cannot make that assumption. I think this has opened my eyes to the advantages that I have simply because I was born in the United States.

    I also thought it was interesting to see the different health care options that people had in Uganda. It is amazing to think how going to a hospital to get treated for a sickness might not be an option for someone. It was also interesting to hear that people have to pay doctors under the table to get the best service sometimes. I am excited to learn more about the health care system when I get to Uganda. I think it will be neat to compare Uganda’s health care system and it’s issues to that of the United States.

    After listening to all the presentations I have so many questions about the culture of Uganda. I think the best way to answer them will be to spend time experiencing the country itself. I am excited to take part in everything that Uganda has to offer. This trip will definitely be a learning experience for me. The presentations have made me even more energized for this trip!

  10. I am so excited for this trip I can barely control myself! Not only am I thrilled to go to Africa, which has been somewhere I have wanted to go since I was about 4 years old, but I am also looking forward to expanding my education while we are there. I can't believe that we are only three days away!

    My 'aha' moment actually was the first day I learned about this trip to Uganda. My roommate went on the trip her sophomore year, and when she told me about it, I knew I had to go too. I decided that this was the year that I wanted to go, and I have been looking forward to it for quite some time. As soon as the meetings started, I knew that I made the right choice. Even the first few meetings when we talked about the history of Uganda and the meaning of Sustainable Development taught me so much and I wanted to hear more.

    As the meetings continued and the presentations started, I learned so much more. Everyone did such a great job on researching and presenting their information. The Business and Media presentations informed me on topics which I really knew nothing about. It really made me realize that Uganda is much more urbanized and developed than many people may think. I also was interested in the fact that Tourism helps make up a lot of their economy. I had no idea that Uganda was so civilized. I think that we, as Americans, get this idea in our head that every country in Africa is very poor and underdeveloped. Although they may not be near as developed as us, Uganda is making great strides in strengthening their economy, and have come a long way.

    The Education presentation did a great job on giving an background of what kind of education the people of Uganda receive, and the different types of schools. Also, the other Health Care presentation made me realize all of the diseases that the people of Uganda have to deal with, and their every day risks. Both of these presentations just made me think of how lucky I am to have the great education and health that I have.

    After listening to all of the presentations, I am now even more excited to go! I can't wait to see the culture and learn from the people. I feel as if the presentations and meetings have prepared me, but now I need to actually be there to soak up all of the information I can. I can't wait!

  11. The one thing that I found to be particularly interesting was the education groups presentation. Being an education major myself I was a little partial to this presentation. There seemed to be some similarities between American education and Ugandan and how it is viewed by the public as well as some stark differences between the two. Parents seem to generally feel similar about public versus private education in the States and in Uganda; that a private education is superior to a public education. The one fact that really hit me was that here in the United States we contribute a mere 5%, although I'm sure we could afford more, towards public education. In Uganda they contribute 35%. It shows where each of the countries place their priorities. In the States it seems as if education is viewed almost as a burden; in Uganda it seems to be more of a way out of peoples current state of poverty and a giant move towards self-sustainability, which as consequence, is transferred to the country. It seems as if here, in the States, we are far more concerned with waging war than educating our citizens, although this is comes as no surprise. I am very excited to go and see the schools of Uganda and compare them with schools in the States.

  12. I am extremely excited to be travelling to Uganda TOMORROW!! I have always wanted to travel to Africa and really expand my horizons and stop living in the Midwest bubble I've grown up in.

    The presentations in class have tremendously increased the amount of background knowledge I have about Uganda. I especially enjoyed the Media presentation because it gave me some more knowledge of some of the current events and past "news breaking" events. I didn't know that there was such a difference in censorship between the two main newspapers, The Daily Monitor and The New Vision. I feel like we all take it for granted that the news is delivered to us, mostly, unbiased every day.

    The business presentation helped me understand more of the import and export markets that Uganda works with. The health care presentations really opened my eyes, as a future health care worker, to the grave issues and diseases, such as Malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, that people deal with everyday that we don't even think about.

    I can't wait to arrive in Uganda and continue learning more about the culture!

  13. Well, as everyone us has said, our trip is fast approaching. In fact, we will be arriving at the airport in a mere 7 hours. Trying to get some last minute packing done!

    I thought the student presentations were really informative. As a student, I found the education group's presentation to be particularly interesting. Their group did an excellent job highlighting the differences between the American education system and the Ugandan education system. I am excited to visit the school in Uganda to see first hand how these differences are manifested in the classroom.

    The education group's presentation also gave me an "aha" moment relating to sustainable development. The lack of universal education is certainly a development issue. How can an economy thrive when the workforce lacks an education? Yet, families may rely on their young people to work to provide the family with additional income. These issues will be interesting to explore more closely once we get to Uganda. What can be done to help provide more children with more years in school? How does education level directly affect the earning potential for a Ugandan worker?

    Looking forward to seeing you all in just a few hours!

  14. I think that the one presentation that really put things into perspective for me was the education group's presentation. I have attended private school all my life, but in the area that I am from even the public schools are really nice. It was shocking to think that in some areas of Uganda they do not have basic school supplies, or even a classroom! This made me realize just how dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge the Ugandan students must be, and gave me a new level of respect for the MUBS students we will be meeting. I think that it will be interesting to talk to the students about any challenges they have had to overcome to get where they are.

  15. I feel all the presentations had something new and interesting to make us think, but for me as a journalism student the presentation on media in Uganda was eye opening. I was unaware of how much control the government had over media. I had assumed they had more control than in the United States, but people dying over what they would write about seemed unreal to me. Growing up in an environment with freedom of speech we tend to take advantage of it. With this information I feel I am going to be more aware of the restrictions that are placed on people, and the presence of the law in everyday life in comparison to the United States.

    The education presentation was also interesting to learn about, particularly non traditional educational practices, such as the songs and passing on stories from generation to generation. Growing up I never really discusses what alternative form of education the United States has and why they are in place. I would tour museums but didn't see their larger purpose of educating those without access to school. I am interested to see what types of nontraditional education is available to the public in Uganda, and if it is successful and used.

    The presentations on health care in Uganda did not come as much of a surprise to me, but the details on the presence of diseases and the lack of cures available was sad to hear about. I with we were still touring the hospital just to be able to compare the differences between their hospitals and the ones we have here. Even though we cannot visit because of the ebola outbreak I still trust that we will be able to see the differences in every day life.

  16. All of the presentations were very interesting and I gained a ton of new information from each one. The one about the Ugandan Media was very interesting. The country sounds far more advanced than I expected. I also learned about thing in doing my own research. The Ugandans seem to try new things with what they have even if it is far less that what we do. It was very interesting when the group talked about how different the two newspapers: the one run by the government and the one that is independent. The other presentation that was very eye opening was the one on education. It is interesting how many people attend the private vs. public schools. We are so fortunate in the US for the public education provided K-12. Even though some would say that the education system in the US is lacking, it is far better than the opportunities in other countries.
    The pre-travel sessions really taught me a lot and gave me a better perspective of Uganda and what to expect when I arrive. My classmates have taught me so much this far and I cannot wait to continue to learn from each other on the trip.

  17. The presentations helped give me a more in depth view of where we are going. My "Ah Hah" moment was that I didn't realize how poor the country was before some of the presentations. I think it helped me be better prepared for what we are going into. The health care statistics really blew me away, and I also didn't realize how bad AIDS was over there. The pre-travel sessions I think helped me be better prepared for what is to come in Uganda. I can't believe the trip is finally here, I have been anticipating it all semester, and it seemed so far way in January. But here we are!

  18. One of the research presentations I found interesting was the one relating to the media and communications in Uganda. Being that I am a marketing student, I am wondering more about the government's hand in controlling media and the concept of free press in Uganda. It will be interesting to see actual publications in Uganda and how news is disseminated compared to how it is disseminated in the United States where a complete free press truly exists.