Residential School on respect and understanding: view from Ruth Grace Babirye

Ruth Grace Babirye is an undergraduate studying at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda. She attended the ACU Residential School 2017, held at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia in December 2017. Ruth tells us how attending the Residential School has had a positive impact on her.

Ruth Grace Babirye

The Residential School programme was an information-packed period of learning. With 30 participants from various cultural backgrounds and countries, the first step to learning was by interacting and forming friendships. There were sessions packed full of new information, one after the other, immersion visits and group work interactions, all aiming to widen our understanding of the challenge that was set for us: to create tolerant and inclusive communities in our individual institutions and beyond. The beauty of learning all this in just four days shows that there is hope for this information to be passed on to each and every person.

Before the programme, I kept thinking about how this residential school would be a hub of information to share and learn, and a place for networking and sharing experiences. I was not disappointed! I found all this and much more.

Learning that Malaysia was a country made up of different cultures, and that there were so many different forms of discrimination in society, was new for me. One cannot help but wonder how much each and every person needs to learn to be considerate of their neighbours, both near and far.

I have never thought of Uganda being a country of over 40 cultures – for example we don’t segregate each other on attaining education. This made me realise that I love my country, because through all its diversity we still stand as one in unity. We have some faults, but I appreciate that I am not discriminated against amongst my fellow country mates. This realisation made me learn to appreciate how my home university, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, has set a standard of mutual respect amongst the staff and students by opening up applications to all Ugandans and non-Ugandans. Selections are non-biased, because if they were I perhaps wouldn’t be in the university!

Learning about the many ways in which cultural respect and understanding could be expressed, has helped me understand that there is so much to consider in a single setting. This has helped me learn not to judge other people by who they are and what they do.

I have also learnt to use the Core and Flex model that we learnt, especially in context of living with different people and in different societies. I can now associate with many different nationalities on my campus and understand their way of life,  enabling them to feel welcomed in our university. During the Residential School I would easily communicate with my other colleagues, I was also able to feed on the food provided though that’s what I am not accustomed to – though the spicy food is still hard to take in!

I am really appreciative of the ACU, my home university Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and Herriot Watt University – the host – for this great once in a life time opportunity.

Ruth Grace Babirye

  • Read our round-up of the event
  • Read other student's views on the Residential School: Jiwani (from the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus, Trinidad and Tobago), Robbie (from Otago University, New Zealand), and Zaman (from Daffodil International University, Bangladesh)

Last modified on 11/01/2018
Tags: ACU Residential School 2017 on respect and understanding