EdLF students Karina Holt and Summer Hopper had the experience of a lifetime as they traveled to Uganda with McKay School professors Macleans Geo-JaJa and Pam Hallam. Both Holt and Hopper are pursuing minors in international development and are taking EdLF courses. They used the trip to Uganda to learn about the role of culture in international development.
The trip included a visit to Makerere University, located in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. There, the BYU group met with several faculty members, including associate professor and EdLF alumnus Christopher Mugimu. But the highlight for Holt was interacting with the students and finding more similarities than she had expected. “The connection I felt was powerful. I realized how universal many of our college experiences and struggles are,” she said. “We shared our struggle with procrastination, with deciding a course of study, and we all want to do good in the world.” Holt was also impressed with the desire the students had to become teachers in their communities and make a positive impact on their country’s future.
A highlight for Hopper was visiting a community in Masaka, Uganda, a city about two-and-a-half hours by car from Makerere University. As an economics student, Hopper has studied the principle of microfinance. While visiting Masaka, Hopper was able to see microfinance put into practice as she interacted with the women there and learned about the microloan business projects they worked on. Although microloans meant that there was not substantial profit to be made, just having the opportunity to work on microloan business projects was very empowering for these women and provided purpose and direction in their lives.
Hopper felt a wide range of emotions as she interacted with the people in Masaka. She was inspired by a group of women who knew each other’s struggles and worked together to overcome their challenges; saddened by women who explained that their earnings are used to feed their families and that they had nothing left to invest in the business; and educated by hearing stories of women whose business ideas were failing due to products being donated through aid projects. Hopper also learned these women needed translators because their grants could only be approved in English. She was humbled by their eagerness for new ideas and their hope that, although her current education is inadequate to offer impactful advice or assistance, she could still boost success through her education and experiences.
Since the visit, Holt and Hopper have used social media to keep in touch with their new friends. “The friendships sparked by this encounter feel authentic and lasting. I will always remember what I learned from this experience,” said Holt.
Hopper found the visit to be life changing. “My experience in Masaka inspired me to seek truth even when truth is hard,” she said. “It inspired me to recognize that I don’t have the answers. It inspired me to accept the good and the bad of interventions. Visiting Uganda inspired me to continue my learning.”
Link to the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAct3RAgsY8
Writer: Cameron Hussein
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922