Germany. Israel. Australia. England. The list can go on for study abroad programs. However, for junior Jacob Bowdoin, Uganda was his country of choice.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Uganda,” Bowdoin said. “Not every Ugandan is a ‘super-runner.’ It’s hard to get a correct view about the country since a lot of people don’t know the different culture.”
During the spring semester of 2011, Bowdoin studied at Uganda Christian University. However, his semester abroad was different from most students: while attending the university, Bowdoin tried out and successfully became a member of the cross-country and track team.
Every weekday morning before leaving his home-stay’s house, Bowdoin woke up at 6 a.m. and did core workouts with his home-stay brother. Next, he would run a 5 minute warm-up jog to the university track where he met up with fellow team members. There were a total of 6 other consistent distance runners on the team.
Running with the Ugandans proved to be much different than what Bowdoin was used to at Corban. “The workouts were higher intensity but the Ugandans were not so into the latest stretching techniques. They were also more relaxed on skipping practice,” said Bowdoin.
Once the team was altogether, they set out for a 50-70 minute run. This run was different than Bowdoin’s typical workout in America. Along the dirt road, the team would pass the people of the town, many of them being children on their way to school. Bowdoin loved this closeness to the people, but he especially liked how friendly they were.
“My favorite part was running through the village and having all of the children wave at me,” said Bowdoin. “Since I was running with the team of Ugandans, I was not identified as a tourist, which was great.”
Bowdoin’s team members became like family to him. He loved the feeling of acceptance, not only by the team, but by Ugandans all around. Being cheered on by the Ugandans was an unbelievable experience for Bowdoin.