I originally wanted to come to "Africa" in order to have the experience of a lifetime. This held completely true. I experienced things, most people only see in pictures. I saw the Ngorongoro Crater (left), the mighty Nile, and Mount Kilimanjaro. I also experienced first hand Africa's many delights like papaya, apple bananas, matoke, avocados and many more. Even the wildlife I was able to interact with first hand. I saw 14 foot long man-eating crocodiles and elephants with tusks as long as a man's arm.
Still, while these images and animals are all truly unforgettable it is the experience interacting with, learning about, and befriending the Ugandan people that has changed me so much as a person. Through living with Ugandan people on a daily basis, I quickly saw how people from different continents, are in many ways, the exact same. Because we were such similar people, I was able to relate to my friends and learn infinity more than I ever had imagined possible.
Through my interactions and relationships, I started thinking of the people I met as individuals rather than "Ugandans" or "Africans". Furthermore, I came to realize, in light of my project analyzing small agribusiness, just how tough life in a developing context can be. In my life, I have only worried about tests and quizzes, Items which have no barring on whether or not I have a roof to sleep under or food to eat. On the hand, many of the people I interacted with have to grind out their days for a very small, unstable income with the hope of earning enough to feed their family.
With this in mind, my experience in Uganda became two things: my research on the value chain of matoke and my relationships with the people I shared my summer with who happened to be from Uganda. While two separate focuses, they both offered me a unique perspective on Ugandan life and Ugandan society. Ultimately, I am extremely thankful for the individual friends I made and all the people I met for, without them, my experience would not have been amazing.