Study Abroad Spotlight – Uganda
When Delania Peek and Bryson Barefoot (both Social Work, ’17) decided to study abroad, they had no idea how much it would deepen their knowledge of their field.
“The Uganda Studies Program (USP) provides a unique, enriching experience for college students to study abroad, fully immerse themselves in another culture, and attain credits and internship hours,” explained Dr. Erica Sirrine, dean of SEU’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “These students saw the wonderful opportunities USP provides and decided to spend their final SEU semester abroad to complete their field internships.”
Bryson Barefoot — Noah’s Ark
Barefoot completed his practicum at Noah’s Ark, an international organization that serves vulnerable children in Mukono, a municipality in central Uganda. It took a few weeks to get acclimated, but his days soon settled into a steady rhythm as he adapted to his new environment. His relationships with the children he was serving grew more and more over time, and he learned so much from the example set by his Noah’s Ark supervisor. “The caring way my supervisor interacted with and got to know each child was so inspiring,” Barefoot explained. “He modeled what it means to be extremely good at what you do.”
“Initially I was concerned that the skills I was learning in Uganda would not be transferable back in the U.S.,” he said. “But now I feel that I will have an advantage when it comes to working cross-culturally and being comfortable with diversity. There is nowhere else I’d rather have gone for my practicum.”
Delaina Peek — Butabika Hospital
“Studying abroad was nothing like I thought it would be,” said Peek. “It challenged everything I thought I knew about cross-cultural relationships and about being a social worker.”
Peek considers it a privilege to have completed her internship at Butabika National Mental Referral Hospital, located in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. “It was a place filled with so much pain and yet so much love … so much hopelessness and yet such beauty,” she explained. “The Ugandans have such amazing faith in the Lord in the midst of circumstances that could make you question His presence. It was truly humbling.”
Peek shared that during her time in Butabika, God challenged her with how to relate with others and how she views herself, but even more so with discovering who He is. The social work students offered the hospital patients “medicine for their hearts” while the doctors offered medicine for their bodies. “The professionals that I had the honor of working with are some of the most beautiful examples of Christ’s love I have ever met.”
Taking on the challenge
There is no doubt God used this study abroad opportunity to prepare these students for their future careers in social work. “I could never express how much I would recommend studying abroad,” said Rachel Roskoski, director of SEU Study Abroad. “You will be challenged to the very edge of what you know and keep walking … trusting that God is with you.”
During the spring semester of 2017, both Bryson Barefoot and Delania Peek successfully completed the practicum hours required for graduation with an undergraduate degree in social work. They received internship supervision/instruction at Uganda Christian, and they returned to Lakeland in time for commencement.