Freshman Readership students return

Alyssa Bonner

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Students on the Readership trip in Uganda pose for a picture. Top row (left to right): Dylan Wilhelm, Lora Stewart, Jesus Alfredo Rosendo, Trenton Allen and Mason Paetzold. Second row (left to right): Abigail Betts, Jackie Brockman, Kathya Saenz, Francesco Lo Sauro and Mateus Barbosa da Silva. Bottom row (left to right): Casey Watson and Alejandra Hernandez.

Students on the Readership trip in Uganda pose for a picture.
Top row (left to right): Dylan Wilhelm, Lora Stewart, Jesus Alfredo Rosendo, Trenton Allen and Mason Paetzold.
Second row (left to right): Abigail Betts, Jackie Brockman, Kathya Saenz, Francesco Lo Sauro and Mateus Barbosa da Silva.
Bottom row (left to right): Casey Watson and Alejandra Hernandez.

Eleven freshman students and one senior peer leader embarked on a journey to Uganda over spring break. The freshman students were given the opportunity to travel abroad upon being the finalists in WT’s Readership essay contest. While in Uganda, the students and two faculty members who traveled with the students worked with Wine to Water, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide clean water to people in need around the world.

On their 10-day adventure, the students learned how to build rainwater harvest tanks and bio-sand filters, how to make the bricks that are used for the tanks and about Ugandan culture and sustainable solutions that are being used in Africa to solve problems.

“It was quite a learning experience,” Alfredo Rosendo, freshman Mechanical Engineering major, said.

The students not only learned new things, but got to assist in doing those things as well.

“We helped build rainwater harvesting tanks at two local schools in rural areas where they didn’t have access to clean water,” Lora Stewart, freshman Communication Disorders major, said. “We also learned how to build and maintain bio-sand filters.”

Alongside the learning experience the students had on the trip, they experienced the Ugandan culture. They learned some of the language and lived everyday life like the people in Uganda.

“[We] experienced the culture completely,” Stewart said.

The students played with children, attended a worship service and met with pastors from the area. They also went on a bus safari and a boat safari on the Nile River.

“The last thing we did was shop, which was fun and interesting, very different than any of us were familiar with,” Abigail Betts, freshman Graphic Design major, said.

The Readership group departed from America on March 6 and returned on March 17. While in Uganda, they experienced life from a new perspective.

“I gained a new perspective and a desire to know more about the world and different cultures,” Stewart said. “The Ugandan people welcomed us with open arms.”

For some of the students, the trip was an eye-opener.

Words cannot describe the experience. It’s something you have to experience yourself to truly understand,” Rosendo said. “I met some amazing people that I will never forget. It was a true eye opener and it humbled me seeing how much joy and happiness the people had even though they had so little.”

The experience of the trip left some of the students wanting to return to Uganda.

“It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever experienced thus far in my life,” Betts said. “I want to go back so bad, to Uganda and elsewhere. This is something everyone should experience at some point in their life. It really shows you what other are like and what you are like, who you are going to be in certain situations.”

The students who went on the trip were the first volunteer group to work with Wine to Water. They returned with a new perspective and appreciation for things we have access to in America.

“I learned a new appreciation for the life we live in America,” Stewart said. “I gained a new knowledge of what it looks like to possess genuine joy no matter the circumstances.”

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