As a college student in America, at any given moment, there is probably at least one book in your backpack, not to mention the countless books on shelves in your home. Now, imagine wanting to read, but not having the resources to do so.
This summer, as part of a study tour, a group of UCO students traveled more than 8,000 miles across the world to serve the Ugandan community and provide maintenance for a new library that had been built at the St. Monica vocational school in Gulu, Uganda. This library was built thanks to the generous support of the UCO community. Last semester, the same group of students hosted a gala and organized a T-shirt fundraiser for St. Monica Girls’ Tailoring Centre, with the help of Sister Rosemary, the director of the center, all to assist with literacy efforts in the area. The St. Monica Girls’ Tailoring Centre is a safe-haven for young women who have been subjected to horrors such as abduction, torture and more, as well as being forced to injure or kill family members while serving as soldiers in Kony’s army against their will.
With more than $12,000 in raised funds, the students set off to give their time and efforts to the Ugandan community. During their time in Uganda, the students helped sand, prime and paint the new library in St. Monica’s convent. In addition to helping abroad, the UCO students helped foster growth and leadership in students of all ages within the metro community, by engaging the students of Belle Isle Middle School in Oklahoma City. The middle school donated enough books to fill 23 suitcases, which then were taken to Uganda during the UCO trip.
Student body president Stockton Duvall attended the study tour and described the valuable experience.
“I think [the trip] was important, because it taught us, as students, that you can create change as a college student. You don’t have to wait until you’re grown up and settled into a job. Giving your time is one of the most valuable gifts you can present to someone.”
“I would say that on my trip the most important lesson that I learned is that we should strive to not always focus our work around ourselves, but instead be willing to be part of someone else’s story,” Duvall continued. “We each got to play a small part in the story of Sister Rosemary and all the other women at st. Monica’s and help in the best way we possibly could.”
For those searching for a way to give back, like this group of UCO students, Duvall gave this advice, “I would suggest trying new things and developing a passion in an area where you can help others. Dedicating your life to helping those around you, whether it be through your job here or overseas, can change your perspective on life for the better. If you have the opportunity to travel abroad, whether it is for a short time or an entire year, take it.”
Serve on, Bronchos!