Two months. At the beginning of a two-month time period, you think you have all the time in the world. Now looking back, it's like two months wasn't long enough. Three weeks since my return from Uganda, I have graduated with my master's degree and am working toward my next step in life. Every day, I look back at my too-short-of-time in Uganda and dream about a day that I will return.
Giving one of the Watoto babies one last hug.
I have talked constantly about Uganda since I have been home. I've shared stories and photos, but nothing will ever do it justice. You can't describe the smell of frying fish in the market or the blaring of horns and rush of cars that create Kampala's daily traffic. I have pictures to show children's beautiful smiles but nothing to describe the feeling of love that rushes over you when that same child hugs your legs.
Uganda is a place that will never have an equal. You must see it to believe it, and that's what makes it beautiful. After discussing my trip with other Noble-Watoto fellows, I discovered three main takeaways.
- The work was equally great, but each of us had our own, unique experience. We saw Uganda in our own way through our own eyes.
- Each fellow, including myself, returned home saddened because we had to leave friends that became family and communities that became home.
- A passion to help Uganda and a love for the people develops and becomes stronger after serving as a Noble-Watoto fellow.
I find myself looking through my photos of Uganda, daily. I'm always willing to share a story and speak about the situations and people I encountered. I am passionate about telling the story of so many leaders and entrepreneurs found in Uganda. I will tell anyone that will listen.
I hope that I made an impact and helped in any way possible, but there is no doubt that I was impacted by Uganda. I developed more positive characteristics, strengthened my managing skills and renewed my desire to keep learning.
I learned many words while in Uganda, but the best was: Kyigya ku gwa. It means nothing lasts forever. Ugandans say it to each other to help encourage people through a difficult time. It's only fitting that it was the last thing I was told as I left the Lubbe farm crying. I remind myself daily that I couldn't stay in Uganda forever, but I'm given hope by believing that one day I will return.
It was an absolute honor to serve in Uganda this past semester. I want to thank the Humphrey family and the Noble Research Institute for donating funds to help make dreams like mine a reality. Their generosity helped me reach the other side of the world.
I want to thank Pam Bay and Dr. Henneberry for recommending the Noble-Watoto internship to me. Their faith in my abilities has pushed me to achieve so many goals in life. Thank you for all the hard work you do.
To my friends and fellow Noble-Watoto fellows, Gabriella and Tanner, thank you for answering my nervous questions and preparing me for my trip. Without your help I wouldn't have been ready to hit the ground running.
Lastly, I want to thank my friends and especially my family for standing behind me through this journey. Some thought I was crazy and some just wished me luck, but I have an amazing support system that motivates me to work hard and smile often. Thank you for making me who I am.