Monday, 16 September 2019

A Note from the Blogger

Meeting my host mom in January of 2016!
Before I write more blog posts highlighting students’ experiences and various emphases, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Anna Ostrander, and I’m a USP alumnus from the Spring 2016 semester. I graduated this past May from Lee University with a degree in chemistry, and I plan to go to graduate school to study environmental science after this year abroad.
Something our staff likes to talk about at the beginning of the semester is the idea of one-degree changes. Simply put, USP does not aim to be the “life-changing” experience that so many expect from a study abroad program. Rather, the conversations and thoughts brought about by USP result in a one-degree change in a student’s life trajectory. A one-degree change does not alter one’s course in an obvious or immediate way, but after many months and years and seasons of life, a person finds that one degree has actually led to quite a large divergence in the path and a big difference in how she or he sees the world. In my own words, USP is not so much life-changing as it is life-lasting.
While I love the idea of the one-degree change, personally USP produced a more significant and, in some ways, immediate change in me. Perhaps it was my mere age and naïveté that made me especially malleable and receptive to change (I did USP as an 18-year-old freshman in college), but I’d say I experienced something closer to a 50-degree change. Reflecting on the past few years, USP has shaped my worldview in ways that I am still discovering. It expanded my view of God, made me more comfortable with difference & tension, gave me a greater appreciation for answerless questions, challenged me to value people over productivity, and continues to remind me to be present and grateful.
Reunited with my host sisters after 3 years!
USP is such an integral part of who I am, so coming back to be a Program Assistant was the most natural thing I could have done. This program and this beautiful country continue to surprise me in profound ways, and I am in awe of the people I get to work with every day. I’m excited for the opportunity to guide students through this journey and look forward to sharing more stories and updates as the semester goes on!
                                                               Anna Ostrander

A beautiful morning in Mukono.