My summer school experience: A once in a lifetime trip to Uganda

Participating in an international summer school is a great way for students to gain international experience, learn new skills, increase their intercultural understanding, network, and have fun while visiting an ACU member institution overseas.

This year, the ACU offered UK students the opportunity to gain this experience through our Global Summer School Grants. Here, Sarah – an undergraduate student from the University of Winchester – writes about her experience at the first ever international summer school to be held at Kyambogo University, Uganda.

This July, I was incredibly lucky to be granted an ACU Global Summer School grant to travel to Kampala to study at the first ever summer school at Kyambogo University. I was keen to study at the Natural Resources and Development Summer School as I hoped to expand my knowledge on sustainability and climate change, which I feel is one of the most important issues to ever face our planet.

The summer school was packed full of insightful lectures, seminars, meetings over the course of three weeks, with an unforgettable week-long field trip in rural Uganda. We managed to spot giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, warthogs and water buffalo as we toured around the national parks on game drives. As an animal welfare student you can imagine the joy I experienced in seeing these exotic, and in some cases, endangered animals in the wild.

Other highlights included visiting the equator, going to the source of the river Nile, bathing in a glorious 40℃ hot spring, visiting the Ugandan parliament, cruising on Lake Victoria and dancing with students at the Kyambogo Freshers’ fayre!

Sarah by crater lake

Why do you think it’s important for students to take advantage of international opportunities during their studies?

It is a cliché, but travel truly does broaden the mind. As St. Augustine once said “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”.

Cultural exchange promotes mutual understanding, as students discover different perspectives and methods in order to achieve goals. With the assistance of our amazing facilitators we were able to experience so much more of rural and authentic Uganda and see things that we simply would not have been able to see as tourists.

What did you learn from the experience?

I have learnt so much about what it means to be part of the global community and how having global perspective helps individuals and communities to flourish. Not only have I had the honour of making connections with incredibly studious Ugandan students at the summer school, I have also made long lasting bonds with other international students who I hope I can meet again the future.

How will you share the knowledge and skills gained at the summer school now you’re back home?

I have been elected as the ethical and environmental officer for Winchester student union this year so I hope to disseminate the knowledge that I have gathered around sustainability, fair-trade and gender equality through my new role. Hopefully this will increase student knowledge and engagement with environmental issues, encouraging Winchester students to become involved with the global debate.

And of course, I will show my fellow students how to dance some African dances in the traditional dress that I bought!

As an animal welfare student, I am often exposed to scenes of animal cruelty but after experiencing a country where there are few laws protecting animals, I can see the importance of getting involved with the development of animal protection law and research in these developing countries. After graduating I hope to undertake further study in the field before pursuing my ultimate goal of writing publications and starting my own charity.

Sarah is an Animal Welfare and Society student from the University of Winchester, UK.

Read more about how you can get involved in an international summer school with the help of our Global Summer School Grants, which will be opening for applications in January 2019.

Last modified on 11/01/2019
Tags: students, sustainable development, climate change, sustainability, Commonwealth