June 23, 2009

USC Students Lend a Helping Hand in Uganda

Nine ambitious students from the University of Southern California recently spent 4 weeks working in Uganda as part of a unique service-learning trip that focused on cultural exchange, leadership development, relationship-building, skills training and education.

Students lived and worked at the AGYA Community Center in Nabulagala, and spent their days teaching as part of AGYA's after-school program, learning the basics of Luganda, Uganda's most widely spoken indigenuous language, and reflecting on life in a developing nation.

Above: USC Student Volunteers Chris Whitenhill and Nicolette Omoile with AGYA Co-Founder, Divinity Barkley.

USC Senior, Warren Hsiao taught computer literacy classes using the computers which AGYA recently acquired through a generous donation from a supporter. Hsiao also actively engaged in Luganda language lessons while teaching AGYA youth members how to say some basic Chinese greetings!

USC graduate student, Kristina Thomas, taught students how to use basic film editing software, and worked with students to shoot a music video as part of her film and acting workshops. "Working with Kristina was such a great opportunity," said 17 year old AGYA youth leader Nelson Kazibwe who looks forward to teaching others how to edit short films and use a camcorder.

Above: USC Volunteers Warren Hsiao and Chris Whitenhill teach a class to AGYA youth members.

Above: USC Sophomore Hayley Pappas teaches a music workshop with AGYA youth members.

Above: USC Student Volunteers Emily Gosselin and Marianna Singwi-Ferrono teach a reading workshop.

In addition to teaching classes and workshops at the AGYA community center, students also participated in two cultural excursions, visiting the Kasubi Royal Tombs and the River Nile in Jinja, Uganda.

Above: USC Students & AGYA Youth Leader Sarah Mulekatete at the source of the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda. For Mulekatete, a native Ugandan, it was her first time to visit the world's longest river.

Below: Marianna and Kristina smile while at the statue of renowned peace-maker Mahatma Indira Ghandi which was erected at the source of the River Nile in Uganda.

Students taught at local primary schools 4 times a week, and completed a community-service project at Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School.

Administrators at Good Hope P.S. were so impressed with the USC students' focus on creativity as an educational tool that they announced that the school will be making art a mandatory requirement for their elementary school students beginning next year. "I am so excited that Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School made the decision to include art. Self-expression is so vital to the development of children, which is why AGYA is committed to giving Ugandan youth opportunities to express themselves through different artistic mediums such as song, dance, painting, and film. The leaders of AGYA will continue to work with Good Hope P.S. so we can help them secure supplies for their art program."

Below: USC Student Volunteers Marianna and Hayley with AGYA participants.

The USC students came to Uganda to work with AGYA as the result of the partnership between Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association and USC-student group, R.A.Y.S.E. (Rise of African Youth through Self-Empowerment).

Below: USC Student Volunteers and AGYA Youth Leaders at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

AGYA looks forward to making the service-learning trip an annual summer program that will give college students an opportunity to engage in sincere cross-cultural dialogue while also teaching and sharing skills with Ugandan children and youth.

If you are a college student interested in organizing a similar group service-learning project at your university, contact us at: amagezigemaanyi@gmail.com