Paul Dunlap, a junior Health Science major, is currently interning at a hospital in Uganda with the Best Semester program.
I remember starting my second semester of my sophomore year with the decision not to go to Uganda. Yet, people in conversations that didn’t have any relation to Uganda would suddenly talk about Uganda. I eventually asked God if this was a sign I should go to Uganda, and, if so, to send me another one.
The next day, a missionary at a retreat spoke about Uganda and I knew I should go. Throughout the entire process, God has been with me and has made sure I got to Uganda even though I struggled to believe in God’s plan.
God has been working on building my faith by telling me the end goal with no blueprints on how to get there. You could say that’s the kind of faith that is required of us as followers of Christ.
I remember finishing the application essays while knowing all the spots for the program were taken. Somehow, a spot opened, and I took that one. Problems kept popping up about vaccinations and visas, but somehow – someway – God got me here to Uganda.
Here in Uganda, I am interning at a hospital and it has had a huge impact on my life. Seeing the application side to the science I was learning at Corban is huge. I have seen a lot of natural births full of thankful cries to Jesus while a mother cries in the same room for her deceased baby.
Understanding how labs work and how to test for malaria, hepatitis, typhoid and many other infectious diseases has been eye-opening, causing me to realize just how many people are affected by disease. Numbers are just numbers until you start to see them as people. It’s easy to only worry about the ground you stand on, but when you look up at the stars, you start to realize just how big the world is and the different lives of the people who live in it.
Being in Uganda is a huge stress on my routine.
I now spend two hours doing laundry by hand, which, by the way, stinks! Everyone’s fingers are all scraped up from doing it so much. I just keep laundry in mind when I’m eating because when I spill beans on a shirt, I know I’m going to have to personally wash that malicious stain at the end of the week.
The food is good by Ugandan standards, but was a shock for me and would be for other Americans. We eat rice and beans for most meals, but for one special meal a week, we get meat! This meat can be of the usual sort, but is sometimes unorthodox, like cow intestine lining.
Uganda is different and rewarding. I have learned to appreciate things you may take for granted: a washing machine, a hot shower or a hot dog… I miss American food!
Crossing cultures is an amazing way to experience God in a different way.
Here’s my advice: take every opportunity to get to know the amazing international students we have on campus. They can teach you so much about their culture, as well as the triumphs and hardships in their countries. This can break the barrier between cultures and unite us more as one family under Christ. So please, engage one another about their favorite sport, what they like to eat, or the similarities and differences in how they worship. Communicate, grow together, and most of all, love.