Six of the eleven students who traveled abroad to Uganda over the summer spoke about their experiences, the connections they made and the impact of the trip during a panel Tuesday in the Preston Family room.
The trip opened them up to new perspectives and helped them to understand the privilege they had as white people, said Victoria Goetzinger, junior sociology major.
“Seeing those perspectives and how people view white people, how they view Americans, just that cross cultural perspective just really hit me and it’s something that I think about all the time, recognizing my privilege as being a white person,” Goetzinger said.
During the five weeks in Uganda, they assisted with the Pad Project, learned about Ugandan culture and helped in several schools, teaching about leadership and sexual education.
The Pad Project is a multistate project, started by Renae Wyatt, wife of Gary Wyatt, the dean of the Honors College, that teaches women how to make reusable feminine hygiene products.
“A really big issue in Uganda is young women, when they start their periods, will get kind of shamed and not have enough sanitary supplies to go school,” said Abigail Weiser, senior sociology major. “It’s like okay, if you’re dealing with that for an entire week and you have to be separate from school and that stops education a lot.”
They created reusable pads and provided women with the materials to make their own, as well as taught them how to make their own pads, according to Weiser.
The group also donated a sewing machine to the women to help them continue making the products, Weiser said.
“It’s one thing to just bring pads, it’s one thing to bring underwear, but really teaching them that skill, that’s what the sustainability piece (is),” said Goetzinger. “Who knows how long we’re going to have a trip, who knows all of that stuff in the future. If we can provide them the skill set, they can adapt that to their culture, their society and make that sustainable.”
There is a trip to Uganda planned for next summer and students interested in attending can fill out an application and turn it into the Honors College. The application is due by the end of October.
Students interested should be open to having completely new experiences, according to Katie Donnelly, junior elementary education major.
“There’s nothing to expect other than the unexpected,” Donnelly said.