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SMC students reflect on Uganda summer program

| Thursday, October 8, 2015

Students gathered in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s Wednesday evening to listen to the stories of four students who spent seven weeks in the summer serving with the Sisters of Holy Cross in Kyarusozi, Uganda.

Alice Young, assistant director of global education, said each year the Uganda summer practicum accepts four rising seniors who are either nursing or education majors. Young said the program is also open to communicative sciences and disorders majors, depending on available spaces.

After showing a slideshow of pictures from their trips, the four students each took turns reflecting on their time in Uganda.

Andree Wilson-Nixa, a senior nursing student, said she lived in a small village with the sisters for seven weeks, working in a clinic about an hour away.

“I knew my experience in Uganda was going to be special — pulling into the convent, a dozen children were there to greet us,” she said. “The people added an element to my experience that I will never forget. At each encounter, I was almost able to feel the happiness that surged within them. I hope to return to the place that left me with a full and gracious heart.”

Anna Cronin, another senior nursing major, described her experience working in a local medical clinic.

“The clinic was a level three clinic, so the only thing we couldn’t do was surgeries and supply oxygen,” she said. “We dealt with a lot of Malaria patients, learned how to give shots and saw live births.”  

As a part of her nursing experience, Cronin said she and Wilson-Nixa embarked on mother-baby outreaches to bring medicine, beds and mosquito nets to a church where mothers awaited healthcare. They provided Malaria medication, HIV testing and general checkups for babies, she said. 

Eleni Shea, a senior communicative sciences and disorders major, described her experience working at Moreau Primary School, the local school supported by the Sisters of Holy Cross.

“Living and working in Uganda allowed me to grow in so many ways — as a student, a Catholic and a future communicative disorders teacher,” she said.

Shea said she was able to help students learn English and watch students with various learning disorders improve academically.

“I could have not asked for a better way to spend the summer,” she said. “I was extremely fortunate to have found my home among the people of Uganda this summer.”

Sarah Callis, a senior education major, said her experience in Uganda provided her with a new outlook on her life and teaching career.

“Prior to traveling to Africa, I would have never guessed that I could walk four miles home from school in a dress and then eat rice every day for a month, shower in the dark, improvise lessons at school, hitch a spontaneous ride on a bus heading for Nairobi, Kenya, hike to the top of a mountain, wash my clothes by hand or live without our precious wifi for two months — but I did,” she said.

Callis said her favorite part of the trip was fostering a relationship with the children in the community.

“The kids were already walking five miles to school and they still wanted to run home with us,” she said. “The students taught me more than I was able to teach them. The children love to learn, which made me love to teach.”

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