Eight internships in Uganda will be offered in the summer of 2007 through a new International Bulldogs program, Undergraduate Career Services representatives said Tuesday.
The East African nation of Uganda joins five other new Bulldogs locations offered this summer, for a total of 15 locations overall, UCS director Philip Jones said. This is the second Bulldogs offering in Africa following the program in Capetown, South Africa, which is also being offered for the first time this summer and was announced last month. Some Yale students said they had concerns about safety and prohibitive costs, but others said they think those reservations are misplaced.
The available internships, all located in the capital city of Kampala, will include positions working in musical ethnography, an AIDS hospice and educational programs for children, Jones said. The musical internship will allow students to participate in the recording of tribal music in an effort to preserve culture, while students at the hospice will address one of Uganda’s main public health initiatives, he said.
“[The students] will see what it’s like working in a third-world country with limited medical resources in an AIDS hospice,” Jones said. “There’s a tremendous learning opportunity here.”
He said the impetus to create the Uganda program this year came from the positive experience of a Yale student who spent last summer working there. UCS had already been considering expansion of its programs to other African nations, he said, and Uganda is considered one of the safest from the pool they were considering.
Yale students in Kampala will be connected to two alumni currently working in the American embassy in there, he said. The students will live together in a compound in the city.
Nancy Steedle GRD ’07, a member of the Yale Council on African Studies, studied in Uganda for a semester during her time as an undergraduate at Villanova University. She said she considers Uganda to be an attractive option for students going abroad because of the country’s focus on economic development and its relative safety. Although 20 years of violent conflict in northern Uganda have instilled a belief that the country is too volatile for tourists, she said, Uganda is in fact considered a successful example of the positive effects of initiatives such as its campaign against HIV/AIDS and the structural adjustments of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Steedle said students need not be deeply concerned about security in the southern city of Kampala, which is considered to be a safe environment for foreigners.
“There’s often a fear that if students who are going are white or not African-American, that they’re going to stand out,” she said. “To some degree this is true, but it is offset by the tremendous hospitality of Ugandans, who will be advising you and treating you like an honored guest more than targeting you.”
Kampala native Doreen Adengo ARC ’05 said an increased Yale presence in Uganda could benefit the country. Yalies could disseminate more information about educational opportunities in America, she said. She also expressed hope that Yale will contribute resources to Uganda directly, such as offering textbooks to schoolchildren.
But some Yale students said they had reservations both about safety and the potentially prohibitive costs of the Bulldogs program.
Charles Alvarez ’09 said he would need to be more informed and confident about the level of risk involved before embarking.
“If safety is such a big deal that you can’t see much of the country, then that would make me unlikely to go,” Alvarez said. “But it is interesting to see more opportunities in Africa for Yale students. I don’t assume that just because it’s in Africa it’s unsafe, so I would be willing to go if it fit those criteria.”
He also said that the likely lack of financial compensation in many offered positions could prevent students from participating — a complaint that has been common among students in previously offered Bulldogs programs.
Last month, UCS announced new Bulldogs summer programs in Montreal, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Budapest and Cape Town.