Thursday, 21 December 2017

Farewell Fall 2017!

One of our favorite USP traditions is the farewell dinner. After the last of the exams has been taken and papers written, the USP community (staff, students, host-families, practicum supervisors, Honours College roommates, lecturers and various members of the UCU administration) gathers together to celebrate the accomplishments of the students and the completion of the semester. In true Ugandan fashion (all protocols observed!) the event is kicked off with speeches from several different individuals who speak briefly (or perhaps not-so-briefly) about their time with USP, and what it has meant to them. Hearing about the relationships that have been formed, the lessons that have been learned and the memories that have been made over the course of the semester is powerful. The journey is not an easy one, but pausing to look back and reflect on the semester together is immensely good. It is pure joy and satisfaction, being together and celebrating as one big community before the students leave to return home. 

The speaches are followed by the presentation of certificates to the USP students and a big Ugandan buffet dinner. The USP students take the opportunity to serve the food to all the guests, as a gesture of appreciation for the love and hospitality they have been shown in so many ways throughout the semester. The evening is brought to a close with the cutting/eating of the cake. Again, as per tradition, the cake is ceremoniously cut by all who made speeches earlier in the evening, before being served to the guests. 

We are so grateful for a fantastic semester, for a terrific group of students, and for all the people who make up USP, from host moms to roommates, to drivers, to lecturers and supervisors-- webale nyo!! 

Fall 2017 Farewell Dinner 

Sam, Paige, Brianna, Jamie and Lauren ready to celebrate!
Paige, Benji and Morgan, our Program Assistants and the MC's of the farewell dinner
Megan Beam arriving with her host family, the Magera's.
Rachel Land with a co-worker from her practicum site, Off Tu Mission.
Julianna Kabakjian delivering her speech on behalf of the General Studies Emphasis 
The social work cohort, thanking Lisa Tokpa, the Social Work Coordinator.
Joanna Hipple with her host mother, Mirica Kisitu, as she receives her certificate of completion.

Alexa Bragg with her host father, Mr. Kavuma, receiving her certificate from Dr. Musinguzi.
Jessica Fox with her host mother, Jacquline Mugabe.
Students serving dinner to the guests.
The cutting of the cake by all the speech givers. 

The USP staff, grateful for Fall 2017! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Student Takeaways

As we enter into the last weeks we are encouraged to look back over the course of this semester. Students entered into the challenges and joys of life here in Mukono, Uganda. Through engaging with their host families, roommates, practicum sites, travel, and studies they have gained new insights and understanding of the world. While USP is definitely not about easy answers tied up in pretty packages (just ask any USP student ever), students learn, grow and see God at work throughout the their time in Uganda in some pretty profound ways. Here are some insights that our Fall 2017 USP students want to share with you.
Jamie and John in their matching kitinge outfits.
“There is so much importance in living into your community, wherever and whoever that may be. Love comes like a hurricane when you stop holding on so tight to individualism and let others in”.   - Jamie Gendimenico (Eastern University)

Mr. Odwagacen, Alexa, Megan and Joanna on field trip to the Buganda Parliament for Politics.  
“It is honestly hard to string together words that will encapsulate this semester, but in all this I have learned that true community isn’t just about getting coffee or passing by a familiar face on the street. I think it goes back to not only a recognition of human brokenness, but the universality of pain across all individuals and cultures”.    - Alexa Bragg (Gordon College)

Jessica Mount participating in an ice breaker at The Recreation Project in Gulu. 
“In Uganda, I've learned to live in the tension. I've been able to break free from unhelpful black and white realities. This is an invaluable lesson that I'll carry with me in my career as a social worker and my everyday life when I'm back in the states”.                                                                                                                  -Jessica Mount (Point Loma Nazarene University)

Rachel Phillips baking for carmel rolls for our USP Thanksgiving.

“At ACHERU, I have seen how connected faith is to healing. The staff often remind each other that "We do the work, and God does the healing”".  - Rachael Phillips (Westmont University)

Dr. Opol, Brooke, Jenna and Julianna visiting a mosque for their
Contemporary Religions in Uganda class.
“I learned the importance of admitting I need help. When I was vulnerable and shared my struggles with others, I was overwhelmed with an acceptance and support than couldn't have come from any other place. We all like to be strong and have it all together, but I think when we lean on others we recognize that we are dependent creatures, and it's a humbling experience”.                                                           -  Julianna Kabakjian (Messiah College)
While the semester is coming to a close, we are excited for our end of semester debrief retreat where we will process through the experiences our students have had and insight's they've gained as well as discuss how to integrate their experience here into daily life as they look ahead to  re-entry into the US.