Balfour Scholar Erin Kole, along with other students from colleges and universities across New England, traveled to Uganda with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for “a journey of justice, reconciliation, and faith.” While the group studied complex issues of development and dependency on foreign aid, they also spent much of their days playing with children in the remote villages where they stayed. According to Kole, “it was often a struggle to live in both worlds: the academic and the physical, yet it was in those tensions that probably learned the most.” While Kole’s experience in Uganda has deeply influenced her current direction and goals, the experience also allowed her to realize that she may have greatest chance of affecting change by working in her own community. She writes:
My parents fully expected me to return and announce that I was moving to Africa. But that’s not the case. While I was in Uganda I was known as a mzungu, a “white traveler.” It is a loaded term that points to the privilege of choice. At the end of the day, I can choose whether I want to be there or not. But Ugandans often do not have such a choice. Every day I am overwhelmed with choices. Which outfit should I wear? Hazelnut or Vanilla Coffee? Should I text/call/or Skype my boyfriend? These all point to privilege . . . Uganda held a mirror up to in my own life. In Uganda I will always be a mzungu. I will never become Ugandan and will thus never have the fullest impact. In my own culture, however, my impact is much greater.