Finding my way back
Three years ago, almost to the day, I found myself traveling to Uganda for the first time as a volunteer with International Sport Connection. I spent a few weeks in Lira and Kampala with an amazing team of educators, coaches and volunteers. The brief time I spent in Uganda left me with a deep desire to learn more about the world, my place in it and how to work alongside others to make long-lasting change. From the day I left Uganda in 2013, I've had a sneaking suspicion that I would return; it was just a matter of how and when.
Last fall, as I sat in a classroom in the basement of Ag Hall at Oklahoma State University, Steve Swigert and Mike Hafner gave a presentation on the work of the Noble Research Institute, Watoto Child Care Ministries and Field of Hope in Uganda. It was then that I began to find my way back.
By the middle of the spring semester, I had my flights booked.
After finals, packing up my house in Stillwater (shout out to my wonderful family for their help), moving said house into storage, spending a week at home in California and bugging Tanner with a long list of questions (Thank you, Tanner. You're truly awesome.), I finally boarded a plane for Entebbe. Well, actually a plane to Montreal, then another one to Brussels, then the plane to Entebbe. The reality of the next two months did not sink in until that final leg.
This summer will undoubtedly be one of the grandest adventures I will ever have, filled with challenges, lessons and unforgettable experiences. I am so appreciative of the support I have received from the Noble Research Institute, Oklahoma State University and the Master of International Agriculture Program, and my family and friends back home. I look forward to my time in this beautiful country and know that I have so much to learn.
It is with great joy and gratitude that I have found my way back to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
Gabriella Bragoli is a 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Bragoli is from Chico, California, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on food security and development.