Cambridge student society: What does Uganda mean to me?
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Every year, a group of Afrinspire Student Society members visit Uganda for 3 weeks and immerse themselves in local life, building lasting connections with Afrinspire's partners. Here, two students reflect on their time in Uganda.
Poppy: Uganda means the most exciting and friendly experience of my life.
My visit to Uganda with Afrinspire was an intense and life-changing experience that encouraged me to see the world in an entirely new way. Our three-week field visit across Uganda visiting Afrinspire’s current initiatives taught me a great deal about working in an international charity. However more importantly I gained an insight into a country that welcomed our team in a way I never expected. We were welcomed into the homes of people I had never met before to learn how they live by eating, living and working with them. This was honestly one of the richest and most enjoyable experiences of my trip.
The kindness and openness of the people we met ensured every experience was rewarding! Everyday we were meeting someone new to listen to their story. Whether it was while we were hiking up a hill, cooking in someone’s home or playing with children in a school, the relationships we formed in Uganda showed me an amazing insight into this country.
Renato: Uganda represents the most intense learning experience one might ever have.
Unlike what you might imagine from a trip with an international development organisation (help building an orphanage or assisting a primary school teacher), this is no ordinary visit and— to be honest— I was the one who got the most out of the visit to Uganda. In which way? I have met with the most extraordinary life-teachers and acquired a set of knowledge that I wouldn't learn at Cambridge or doing a PhD, even in a 100 years. The most important lesson was to connect with those around me in a meaningful way. This means, I was fully alive and ‘ at the moment’, participating enthusiastically in every conversation without any pre-judgement… I was open to every idea, I became a real student.
I have listened to every story, observed the landscape and wild animals, played with hundreds of kids, walked up the hill with a retired priest, walked by a community voting for their next leader, kindly asked not to kill a chicken that was about to become our lunch, sang a local song with a group of disabled people, learned from local farmers how irrigate a watermelon plantation, had long socio-political conversations with a former military and president’s body-guard, discussed about higher education over a cup of tea, banana and roasted peanuts… and many other lessons that I will never forget.