Anna Starkey, a junior from Bellbrook, Ohio, is an evolution and ecology major, with minors in studio art and forest, fisheries, and wildlife. Anna participated in the Global May Uganda education abroad program in May 2018.
I chose the Global May Uganda program because of my desire to travel to an unconventional study abroad location and because of my interest in East Africa. After taking Swahili for four semesters with Dr. Fouts, the leader of the program, I knew I wanted to travel to Uganda. I also hope to do biological conservation research in East Africa someday, so going to Uganda was a nice stepping stone and learning experience.
In the Global May Uganda program, we focused on studying human security. This included learning about Uganda’s political, education, and healthcare systems as well as their culture and environment. While there, we stayed with host families for nine nights throughout the month and visited a number of locations such as Murchison Falls National Park, Kapchorwa and Jinja. We had the opportunity to visit clinics, schools, parliamentary buildings and the U.S. embassy. Other fun activities included going on a safari, riding a boat on the Nile, hiking around waterfalls and making our own coffee.
The program as a whole was transformational for me because it opened my eyes to the importance of education and human security. It also helped me to grow a greater sense of appreciation for my life and the resources I have access to on a daily basis, such as clean water and toilets. My most transformational moment was in Murchison Falls National Park when we learned about the struggle of conserving wildlife while protecting the livelihoods of the surrounding communities. For example, large mammals such as elephants often leave the park and destroy locals’ crops overnight, ruining their opportunity to make an income. As someone who wants to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, I am now inspired to help find a solution to the issue that would offer security to both wildlife and humans.
I’ve always known I wanted to study abroad, I just did not think I would be able to due to financial circumstances. Thanks to the Wolfe Scholarship, I was able to leave the country and experience a new culture for the very first time. The scholarship helped to alleviate my stress prior to the program and allowed me to focus on preparing myself for Uganda.
I would absolutely encourage all students to study abroad. Getting to experience an entirely new culture truly changes your perspectives and opens your eyes to issues you may have never known existed. Additionally, the opportunity to learn hands on in the field is very impactful and teaches you skills that are unlike anything you can learn while sitting behind a desk in a classroom.