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Thank you, Uganda

By Hilary Gibson, 2015 Noble-Watoto Fellow

Posted Aug. 9, 2015

I've been home for a couple of days now. Since I've been back from Uganda I've been reflecting a lot on how the internship impacted me and in what ways I've grown from being in Uganda. I think my time in Uganda has impacted me in ways that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I made great friendships that I am sure will last for years to come.

Firstly, in regards to education, I saw firsthand the importance of critical thinking and problem solving while in Uganda. These two things are so important to be successful in the agriculture sector here because things are always changing and problems are always coming up. Sometimes a problem would come up or something wouldn't go as planned and we would have to figure out how to make it work despite the mishap or bump in the road. Many locals struggle with this because the education system doesn't push for this very much, and the difficulty for people to think critically and assess problems in Uganda has showed me just how important it is to develop these skills and continually practice them. It was definitely something I realized I needed to work on just as much.

In terms of my professional career, I learned the importance of networking and organizational cooperation. While in the north specifically I met a lot of people from other organizations doing development work. All of them are working toward a common goal: to help alleviate poverty through agricultural development. All were eager to help one another in order to accomplish their common goal. This was very encouraging and inspiring to see.

networkingImportance of Networking: Training session with an agriculture organization called Sasakawa Africa Association 2000 that led to agricultural training cooperation and partnership with Field of Hope

On a more personal and deeper level this internship taught me to live more fully in the moment and to focus on the task in front of me. Things do not move as quickly in Uganda as they do in the U.S. The people and lifestyle in Uganda tend to be more laid back than they are in the U.S. The people seemed to experience life more fully. At least that is what I perceived. This was something I noticed right away and was something to which I had to get accustomed. Seeing this challenged me to grow and to adapt to focusing more on the moment and task in front of me rather than rushing through things to begin the next task. Throughout my time in Uganda I was aware of this and made an effort to be fully invested in whatever was in front of me at that moment rather than focusing on what should be done next or anticipating the next task too much. This has been something I have continued to work on since I've gotten back, too. It has been great for me since I tend to constantly be on the move. Now I have finally been challenged to slow down a bit and appreciate the moment.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who made this internship possible. My experience in Uganda was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so grateful to the Noble Research Institute and its partnership with Oklahoma State for supporting me and allowing me to experience such a rewarding internship. I would like to thank Watoto for hosting me the past couple of months and for giving me a chance to be a part of the wonderful work they are doing in the lives of so many people.

About the Author

Hilary Gibson is a 2015 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Gibson is from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and has one more semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on trade and ethics.

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