Chat with classmates on campus at Uganda Christian University (UCU) as you munch on a “rolex” (a local snack of eggs and Chapati). Just 15 miles from the capital city of Kampala, Mukono offers USP students the opportunity to participate in Ugandan culture. All students take part in homestay experiences, which are described as unforgettable. Along with trips throughout Uganda, venture on an eye-opening 10-day excursion to Rwanda.
Your experience in Uganda will be a spectacular lesson in authentic relationships. These relationships—at home, at school and throughout the Ugandan community—encourage deeper thought about your own cultural identity. Whether it’s social work, ministry, or just a deeper yearning to explore the intricacy of cross-cultural relationships, Uganda will bring you there. The USP academic curriculum is designed to help you process and comprehend the impact of this intercultural experience in your own life.
Your most important Ugandan lesson will be in relationships. At home, at school and within the university, these relationships encourage deeper thought about your own cultural identity. UCU has over 6,000 students and Uganda’s renowned hospitality will help you form deep connections within the local community. Building upon the course Faith & Action, you’ll begin to place these diverse connections into context.
USP offers a wide range of options and flexibility to ensure that students get the most out of their experience. Applicants to USP may apply to live either on-campus or with a host family for the semester. USP also offers a Social Work Emphasis (SWE) which includes a junior or senior level practicum experience. All options encourage students to participate in Ugandan life and explore the intricacy of cross-cultural relationships. In classes, on practicum sites and in homestay opportunities, you’ll learn from Ugandans about life lived in East Africa.
The Uganda Studies Program is hosted by Uganda Christian University (UCU), located 45 minutes east of the capital city of Kampala. The program provides students with immersion in a local community as well as broad exposure to a variety of people and places in Uganda and Rwanda.
RECOMMENDED CREDITS (13-16)
All students take Faith and Action, including those in the Social Work Emphasis.
- Faith & Action in the Ugandan Context (4)
- African Context Courses (3-12)
- UCU Elective Course (3-12)
SOCIAL WORK EMPHASIS
- Social Work Practicum (6)
- Social Work Seminar for the Ugandan Context (2)
- African Context Courses (3-6)
- UCU Elective Course (3-6)
- Social Work Practicum for Senior Level (10)
- Social Work Seminar for the Ugandan Context (2)
STUDENT LIFE IN UGANDA
SPIRITUAL LIFE & WORSHIP
Just as at home, much of your spiritual life in Uganda will depend on choices you make. Still, there are more than a few ways to experience Christian fellowship in this new setting:
In general, students find their semester in Uganda a time of significant spiritual growth, but not usually through mountain top experiences. Instead, USP students find that encountering real questions, real injustices and real cultural differences leads to a stretching and deepening of their faith. Coming face to face with questions that have no human answer encourages contemplation on the life and death of Jesus for ultimate answers.
TRAVEL & CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT
Although the academic schedule leaves little time for independent travel, the USP schedule provides a number of opportunities to experience and learn about East Africa, including a week-long trip to Rwanda.
Because we closely follow the US Embassy’s recommendations for travel in East Africa, all trips are tentative and subject to strict safety evaluation. If you want to travel independently, we recommend that you change your ticket to come early or stay after the program dates.
In addition to your academic travel, home stay experiences and time on campus with Ugandan peers, there are many other opportunities for cultural engagement. Field trips related to your core courses are offered throughout the semester that exposes you to a wide variety of religious, political, and cultural aspects of the country.
All students participate in both Mukono and rural homestays. 'Homestay students' apply to live with a family for the duration of the semester. 'On-campus students' who stay in the dorms on campus spend two weeks living with a host family early on in the semester. On rural homestays, all students spend a week living and learning with a family in a rural Ugandan village.
Almost half a million tourists visit Uganda annually and more than 2,000 Americans plus many other Westerners live in the country. Statistically, Americans are more likely to be in a car accident or injure themselves at home than they are to be involved in a terrorism incident while spending time in Uganda. The country and people are pro-West and likely know more about American politics than you do!
Uganda Christian University is located in the town of Mukono, an ideal setting 15 miles outside the capital city of Kampala. This removes it from many issues of urban life while providing access to the conveniences of the capital city. Still, negative encounters can occur in any setting. As part of the orientation, students are taught the basic do’s and don't of living in Uganda in order to minimize that possibility.
NOTE: All travel plans for USP are subject to change if it is deemed necessary to do so for reasons of safety. The safety of USP participants and staff is a primary goal and will be taken into consideration using input from governmental and non-governmental experts, as well as people who live in and know the area in question. If travel to a certain region is canceled, an effort will be made to replace it with other travel opportunities that provide optimal exposure to the history, people, and culture of Uganda.
In Uganda, you can choose between the following living contexts:
- Living With a Host Family
- Living on Campus
LIVING WITH A HOST FAMILY
By living in a homestay, you are making an intentional commitment to live outside your comfort zone. Your days will be spent on campus studying, worshipping and eating with Ugandan peers. While you'll have some opportunities to make relationships and be involved on campus, most of your time will be spent in an even more effective classroom: a Ugandan family.
Students living on campus will also spend two weeks with a host family, but you will have the entire semester to be integrated as a true member of a Ugandan family. You will live close enough to walk to the university, but far enough to escape the 'bubble' so familiar to Christian colleges. Life with a Ugandan family will include eating Ugandan staple foods (beans, rice, potatoes, etc.), bathing from a bucket, and having limited communication (the internet is available on campus, but not in homes), among other challenges. The majority of homes will have electricity, but most will not have indoor plumbing.
You will leave Uganda with a genuine second family, a picture of family and Christian hospitality that can't be gained in the classroom, but is lived out in the family rituals, the family obligations, and the family celebrations. This experience will give you a thorough foundation of cultural values manifested and embodied in your daily life and relationships.
If you choose to combine this experience with the Cross-Cultural Practicum class, you will also develop a plan for creatively engaging the community in which you live. Whether you develop relationships with children, shopkeepers, mothers or other groups in your neighborhood, you will experience the challenges and successes of relational ministry in a foreign culture. This setting is designed for students interested in ministering or living cross-culturally in the future. If you've spent time in intercultural classes or debated the importance of truly engaging those different from you, then this is the place for you. If you embrace this setting, we certainly don't claim that it will be easy, only that it will be worth it.
NOTE: If participating in campus activities (sports, choirs, fellowships, etc.) is extremely important to you, consider applying to live on campus since practice times and commitments are not conducive to homestays.
LIVING ON CAMPUS
At first, you may see the differences of daily life at Uganda Christian University (UCU): cold showers, basic meals at the dining hall, hearing Luganda spoken by roommates and monkeys playing outside your classroom. As the days turn into weeks, the differences begin to disappear as you share university life with Ugandan peers. Attending lectures, fellowships, and sporting events, learning to find books in the library and participating in community worship - even the most basic activities give you an insight into the lives of your classmates who soon will become your friends.
If you choose this living context option, you will spend the majority of the semester living on campus at UCU, rooming with other USP students and/or with students from Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. For two weeks of the semester, you will live with a Ugandan family near the university, coming for classes during the day and spending the evening learning first hand about culture, politics, and religion. These families adopt you as their own daughter or son, and you will find yourself attending traditional introduction ceremonies, weddings, burials and other events that make you a brief, but full participant in these communities.
If you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone, there are many opportunities to be involved in campus life. Even though you are only here for a semester, USP students are welcomed in worship groups, athletic teams, and fellowship groups from the different regions of Uganda.