I can’t believe that in just a few days I’ll be on a plane heading to Uganda!
It has been 5 years since I first went to Uganda for a gap year before starting college at Belmont. Lately I’ve been thinking back to that experience and the naïve 19-year-old version of me that I had no idea what I was doing. Those 8 months in Uganda opened my eyes to so much, and I left with a passion to empower and fight for the equity of vulnerable and marginalized people. That is what led me to study social work at Belmont. I learned so much from my professors and cohort about how to step into crisis, support one another, fight for equity and social justice, and see the strength and gifts that lie in every human.
As I enter the workforce in Uganda, I am so thankful for an education that equipped me with the skills and knowledge I need to do this job. I will be working as a social worker with HEAL Ministries, a nonprofit I interned with during part of my gap year. HEAL’s goal is family preservation, a cause that is very important in Uganda because about 85% of the kids in Ugandan orphanages have identifiable and traceable family. HEAL walks alongside single mothers and equips them with employable skills while also providing childcare so that children have a safe place to learn and play while the mothers work or go to school. As one of the social workers on staff, I will be helping make the social work program more efficient and create more resources for the families at HEAL.
I am so excited to return to a culture and community that I love. If you know me well, you know that my face lights up every time I talk about Uganda because I love it so much. Living cross culturally makes me a better human. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and challenges my ways of thinking and living. It forces me to confront and work through my biases and ethnocentrism.
As this summer comes to a close, I am so thankful that I had time to relax, play, and prepare for this transition. I spent a lot of the summer nannying a little baby, and I had the honor of being in 2 weddings of dear childhood friends. I had lots of family time and was able to spend my final weekend at the lake, my favorite place to be.
I have a mixture of emotions as I prepare to leave. Goodbyes are hard, but I am also hopeful and excited to see what the next 2 years will hold. Transition is bittersweet to say the least.