The Drake University faculty and student participants in the 7th annual Sustainability in sub-Saharan Africa study abroad program depart from various points in the Midwest on Friday, May 24th. One student will start her adventure much earlier than the rest of the group with a 6 AM departure flight. If all goes according to plan by 4:35 PM Eastern time, twenty-two excited Drake students, Dr. Glenn McKnight & myself will meet up at the Newark, NJ (Liberty) airport to board the 5:45 PM transatlantic flight that will take us to Entebbe, Uganda via Brussels, Belgium. Our third professor, Dr. Jimmy Senteza, will meet us in the Entebbe airport as his itinerary goes through Amsterdam instead. Approximately 23 hours later, we will have traveled more than 8,000 miles/nearly 13,000 km (straight-line distance) and will arrive in Uganda ready for a great, educational, and stimulating three-week program with our partners at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) exploring various components of development and sustainability.
|It's a long way from Iowa to Uganda...|
Over the past several weeks the Drake students and faculty have been learning about the Ugandan educational, government, healthcare, economic, agricultural, tourism, and civil society systems in preparation for our in country activities. The students have also prepared proposals for several service-learning opportunities including teaching at a school with both able-body and disabled students; conducting basic healthcare workshops in a rural village; exploring possibilities of establishing an internship program within a successful group of Ugandan companies; determining consumer attitudes on more sustainable alternatives to clean water access, environmentally friendly packages for bottled water, and approaches to wildlife conservation; and working alongside human rights workers and medical providers. When one looks at what the students plan on doing it blows your mind – they amaze me. And, as one of their professors I get the opportunity to see firsthand the transformation that occurs…I can hardly wait.
This program has grown considerably over the years but one constant event in each year’s schedule has been the rural visit to the Village of Kikandwa in the Kasawo county of the Mukano district. The people of the village welcome us as friends and share with us the many activities of their daily lives. Through several conversations and many, many partners over the past 12 months we have embarked on a joint venture with the village…we are partnering with them to build a health clinic that will improve access to many basic health care services. This is not an easy nor cheap adventure – we’ve been learning a lot. Students from the 2012 study abroad program have spent the past nine months fundraising for this project. We still have a long way to go but we are pleased to announce the 2013 class will attend the clinic’s groundbreaking! To learn more about this project and how you can contribute to it, please visit www.drake.edu/partneruganda.
So – with this introduction, we hope you will follow our journey (this blog). Students will be blogging about their experiences and we welcome your comments, questions, and engagement. To get our conversation started, please post your answer to the following question in the comments section below:
What one or two things from your daily life would be the hardest to give up for a 3 week trip to another country?
My answer? I will definitely miss being with my family (although I will Skype them from Uganda) but the 1 thing I currently have everyday that I won’t have in Uganda…diet Pepsi. Luckily, on occasion I will be able to get a Coke Light (diet Coke)…but it’s just not the same. Then again, maybe this will be a good thing. :)
Until the next posting….