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Students back from Uganda with new world view
News, People, Schools
Students back from Uganda with new world view

Some people spend the summer taking it easy buy not those in a particular study abroad program.

About a dozen University of Tennessee students spent six weeks this summer in the African country of Uganda.

They returned last month.

"I felt like it was home like it was here. You go into someone's home, you eat with them and you see their children and it was really sweet," UT senior Candace Lawson.

UT senior Michael Robinson, "The people over there are wonderful."

The UT students are part of a group that spent six weeks in Uganda in the Gulu Study and Service Abroad Program.

Before they went, students did their homework.

"We have to learn about the history, the politics and the culture, the dynamics of the war before we even get there," UT Religious Studies Professor Rosalind Hackett said.

The program is her passion. She went to Northern Uganda in 2004.

"I was so shocked at the human suffering that I saw there at the back end of the 20 year old civil war that I came back and said to myself we have to do something here in Knoxville to help the people back in Northern Uganda," Professor Hackett said.

In Uganda, the students take classes, do internships, and interact with the local people.

"This field experience if you like, learning in the field is worth so much more than sitting in the classroom," she said.

In the classroom, Candace Lawson is an Anthropology major while Michael Robinson is studying Political Science.

In Uganda, Michael interned with the parliamentary government.

"My friend I made in the district government invited me to his grandmama's home and she cooked me a wonderful meal. And it was just wonderful," he said.

She showed him how to cook chipote.

The students immersed themselves in the culture.

"On the way to Gulu I did not expect to see people texting with their cell phones in their grass thatch hut," he said.

Candace said, "They speak Achoili in the region we were in in Northern Uganda."

Michael gave some examples. "Kopango. How are you? And then you say kopay."

These students are models for the young people they met. It is a learning experience for everyone involved.

"We wouldn't do it if we thought we were only there for our own benefit," Professor Hackett said.

Michael said, "So many people look at us as a symbol of freedom and a symbol of a good country to strive to be and it just really underscores our responsibility to think about other people's freedoms and the best way to achieve that."

Candace said, "I want to go back. I loved it. I felt like it has changed my life and the trajectory of my career."

Michael agreed, "I think I want to go back. I want to go back to Tanzania and climb Mount Kilamajara and then bus ride to Uganda."

It's a country connected to Knoxville through the Gulu Study And Service Abroad Program.

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