April 30, 2009

9 Students from the University of Southern California To Teach Workshops in Uganda This Summer

The Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association has partnered with R.A.Y.S.E. (Rise of African Youth through Self-Empowerment), a student group founded this year at the University of Southern California.

The core initiative of this partnership revolves around the creation of a sustainable summer volunteer experience that will bring university students to work and learn in Uganda every summer. After undergoing a selection process, fundraising, and preparing their 4-week curriculum outlines, the university students attending the trip are:

  1. Christopher Whitenhill, Undergraduate Student Majoring in Public Policy, Management and Planning
  2. Hayley Pappas, Undergraduate Student Majoring in Communication
  3. Nicolette Omoile, Undergraduate Student Majoring in Communication and Political Science
  4. Warren Hsiao, Undergraduate Student Majoring in Business
  5. Emily Gosselin, Undergraduate Student Majoring in International Relations
  6. Marianna Singwi-Ferrono, Undergraduate Student Majoring in International Relations
  7. Natalie Erdelt, Undergraduate Student Majoring in Communication
  8. Kristina Thomas, Graduate Student in USC School of Cinematic Arts
  9. Jillian Chou, Undergraduate Student Majoring in International Relations

USC Junior, Jillian Chou, who will teach dance and poetry, says:

I am so excited to come to Uganda this summer to work with AGYA! I really believe in the mission of the organization and feel that it is so important to have a safe place for kids to learn and grow. Growing up, I was a competitive gymnast and my gym was that place for me. I learned the value of hard work, persistence, and health. I really feel that my gymnastics career shaped who I am today, as it provided me with role models and the opportunities I needed for self-empowerment. I hope to get to know the kids at AGYA and am really excited to share my life story with them as well. When people connect through shared passions, amazing things happen and I am really looking forward to the great things that this summer has in store.

In addition to teaching and facilitating workshops with AGYA students, the USC students will conduct arts and crafts activities and story-telling with primary-school kids at Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School.

Promoting active participation and international awareness, this trip will teach university students how to learn and develop through action-oriented service that meets community needs and teaches students important lessons about Ugandan culture. Unlike academic service learning, the co-curricular service-learning model is not anchored in a specific course, and entails a structured "reflection" time, thus allowing students to evaluate, assess, and share the service experience with their home communities. The university students will also attend several cultural excursion outings including a trip to the Buganda Royal Tombs, the source of the Nile River, and the beautiful Bujagali Falls.

This trip is the first of its kind at the University of Southern California, something AGYA co-founder, Divinity Barkley, and RAYSE President, Nicolette Omoile hope to see change with the introduction of this program. Barkley, an alumnae of USC, and Omoile, a USC Senior who will graduate in May, share a passion for empowering African youth and are excited to be trailblazing this project. All of the trip participants hope that a successful outcome will lead to more investment from the university in student-led initiatives in Africa.

AGYA Youth Leaders are already busy making preparations for the arrival of their new friends. "We will make sure the students are comfortable and that they leave Uganda with more understanding of our culture, our challenges, and our generation's hope for the future," says AGYA Youth Leader Sarah Mulekatate. "I am excited to learn from them, but I hope to teach them some things too" says AGYA Youth Leader Nelson Kazibwe!
With cross-cultural dialogue as the essence of this partnership, the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association is thrilled about the possibilities of expanding this service-learning model volunteer trip to other university campus partners.