Starting in the summer of 2018, students and faculty will have the opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda, for a two-week study abroad trip. Dionne Rosser-Mims, associate dean of academics in the college of education and LaKerri Mack, an assistant professor of political science, traveled there in the summer of 2017.
According to Mack, the primary purpose of the trip was to take part in Higher Education Resource Services – East Africa (HERS), which is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the participation of women in administrative roles in institutions of higher education.
With the help of different sororities on campus, seven boxes of sanitary napkins worth about $1,500 were donated to the HERS staff for distribution to those who needed them.
Though that was the initial purpose of the trip, after interacting with the faculty of Kyambogo University and Makerere University, the idea for abroad study was conceived.
According to Rosser-Mims, a study abroad trip to Africa would be an enriching experience for students who will be able to witness a beautiful culture and way of life outside U.S. borders.
“We are also designing an interdisciplinary course to go with this, which will be open for both undergraduate and graduate students of all majors and will be offered online,” Rosser-Mims said. “ It will be worth three semester hours of credit and the study abroad program will be integrated into it.
“People tend to form perspectives about foreign places, especially Africa, from what they have seen in publications and on television,” Rosser-Mims said. “The actual reality, when you travel there, is often strikingly different.
“For instance, Africa is always associated in the media with poverty and malnourished children, but the display of wealth I witnessed there was quite the opposite.”
According to Rosser-Mims, students will observe the workings of the local government, education system and health sector, all of which are strongly intertwined. Students will have opportunities to interact with key government officials and business leaders. They will also have opportunities to observe the local art, especially tribal dances.
“I have heard great things about their hospitality,” said Garrett Davies, a sophomore computer science major from Robertsdale. “I think it would be a great way to experience a foreign culture firsthand.”
“The communities there are working by themselves to overcome social challenges with minimal outside help,” Mack said. “I would like to expose our students to that.
“A faculty exchange is also being discussed, which I think will enhance the learning environment both here and there.”
Mack said that in their next trip to Africa, they would look at the University of Nairobi in Kenya as another prospective abroad study destination.
“To prospective students who are interested, you should proceed with an open mind and expect to be amazed by their culture and be positively changed,” Rosser-Mims said.