Thursday, 28 February 2019

Serere Rural Homestays

Two weeks ago, our USP coaster journey east to Serere, Uganda. There were many emotions and nerves as we drove deep into the village and began to drop students off with their new families for the next week. As they were dropped off, they quickly learned that "Yoga Noi" was the newest greeting in their vocabulary and that their Papa's and Tata's were so excited to welcome them in. The week looked different for each one of these students, but many of them spent long days learning to cook with charcoal stoves, milking cows for the first time, fetching water from the local water pump, harvesting g-nuts and casava, and learning the language of Ateso. This week gave our students an avenue to disconnect from life in the urban settings where UCU is located and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live in rural Uganda.

Since a photo is worth a thousand words, here are some of my favorite shots from the week 
that will describe the experience better than my words ever could. 

Gracie Disher after being dropped off with her Jaja and Papa

Nazje Mansfield after being dropped off with her Tata

Sophie Davenport after church
dressed in a traditional 'gomesi'

Many students lived on farms!
Some even got to see some births throughout the week
including these small piglets

Senna Larson with her family visiting
with USP staff during the week.
Eating pumpkin that Senna had
prepared earlier that day!

Amanda Scholl and Praise Olatunde with their host families

A hike to Sipi Falls during our Rural Homestay Debrief
Moments before venturing back to UCU!
We love our debriefs at Sipi Falls.

We are so incredibly thankful for our Rural Homestay host families and everything they do for our Students. It has been another semester of incredible memories made and bonds that will last forever in Serere, Uganda.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Thinking about applying to be a Program Assistant? You should!

Are you thinking about applying to be a PA for the 2019-2020 year? 
Well, take it from a current PA... I really think that you should! 😊

My name is Jessica Mount. I studied with USP in the fall of 2017 and never imagined that I would be back so soon. My time as a student in Uganda was filled with so much joy, challenge, and growth... and I knew I wanted to return someday as soon as I arrived back in the states. When I saw the PA application open, I began praying and discerning if this was a good path for me and I quickly realized how much I waned to come back and work on staff with USP. I'm so thankful that I chose to apply and so thankful for the incredible experience that this has been. So, if you're thinking about applying or curious about the position, here is a glimpse at what my year as a Program Assistant has looked like! 
There's nothing a milkshake can't cure!
Kevin Domanski after a long day
at Nakasero Hospital.

Student Care: As a PA, a lot of your time will be spent with USP students as they discover Uganda and all the wonderful things that they will learn. Journeying with students and supporting them in that is a huge part of this role. Sometimes that means late night conversations when a student is processing something challenging, other times it means taking a Saturday afternoon to bake cookies to bring them in class on Monday! Student care includes venturing out to Kampala with them for the first time to show them around the city, and it also includes venturing to Kampala with them when their stomach's aren't feeling quite right. Whether it's spending long hours in a hospital, or long hours on a taxi, both are opportunities for deeper engagement with students! Student care includes eating meals and introducing them to your Ugandan friends so they can join your for dinner. It means visiting them at their homestays, orchestrating events for them, and helping them acclimate to life here. This aspect of the job can be tiring at times, but it's so rewarding to see students grow throughout the semester!

Kate Ivancic and Peter (our current
Ugandan PA) eating chicken after a
day spent in Kampala)

Many evenings spent in the USP apartment
as we prepared for Thanksgiving!

An outing in Rwanda with all my Eddie,
John, Rev. Thomas, and Rev. Emmanuel

Being on Staff: Being on team of 11 other USP staff members has shaped my year profoundly. I've seen first hand how the staff depends on each other to meet every need and activity that comes up. I learned so much from the staff when I was a student, but I've learned even more getting to work so closely with them. Their passion for this program, for what they teach about, and for cultural engagement really helps to frame what this program is all about. Working with a team that was is so passionate about helping American college students engage well in this context has made me even more passionate about what USP teaches them as well. I've learned and grown so much through mentorship, friendship, and the wisdom of each staff member!

Staff of USP Spring 2019

Professional Development: Having studied in the Social Work emphasis, I work very closely on a daily basis with USP Social Work Coordinator, Lisa Tokpa. I've continued to learn so much about the profession from her by helping with the seminar class and through conversation of what students are learning. I've helped facilitate class discussions and Cross Culture Social Work meetings, graded journals, and conducted mid semester site visits! In my year of being a PA and working closely with Lisa and all the staff, I feel I have a clearer idea of what I am called to and what I hope to do with my degree. I've also gained so much confidence this year in how USP has equipped me to be successful in the future!

Fall 2018 Cross Cultural Social Work Meeting.
Hannah Wagar and her supervisor Rose
at a mid semester site visit.

 Other parts of the job: This is a position that will keep you busy and keep you on your toes! There are many moving pieces and there's always something to be doing! A large part of the PA role is prepping and helping out on trips, including rural homestays and Rwanda. This includes stocking med kits, filling jerry cans, making lunches, and many other responsibilities. PA's are also responsible for updating social media, like Instagram, Twitter, and this blog! There's never a dull day and there are so many reasons we want you to be a part of this team! You will play an important part in the semesters to come!

PA Reunion at Thanksgiving dinner in 2018.
Want to join this PA family (dynasty😉)
I know you do! Apply today!

If you are a USP alum, a recent college graduate and looking for an awesome opportunity to grow, learn and support others on the journey-- apply now and join the USP team!