Jamie’s Fulbright Blog - Phase One

21 Days.

10 Emerging Ugandan Women Leaders.

One Research and Retreat Center.

That is how Fulbright is changing the conversation in Africa.

On August 6th, 2013, 500 community leaders, local leaders, students and professors will gather at Lake Bunyoni in Southern Uganda to Listen. Think. Act.

It is the mission of the Global Livingston Institute and it is the work that the Fulbright has fostered on the first of three journeys to Uganda to advance our collaborative work together with the University of Colroado Denver School of Public Affairs, the Buechner Institute and Makerere University.

What would happen if we changed the dialogue in Africa? What would happen if our relationships were reciprocal and not driven by how we can help “fix” Africa but how we can learn from each other?

What would happen if we started collaborative projects that employ Africans and exchange ideas? And what would happen if we tapped into the rich culture that drives Uganda and reveled at the enormous opportunity and potential that exists in the hearts and souls of our community leaders and students in both East Africa and Colorado?

21 days later and a research center known as Entusi will soon open designed to be a thought-bed in East Africa to solve complex social issues and bring people together to think differently about the world in which we live. 21 days later and a course will take place in June where 12 graduate students from the University of Colorado will travel to Uganda to work with 12 emerging women leaders at Makerere University to change the way we think about Africa. And they will convene for the first Entusi Women’s Retreat where ideas will flow and relationships will change.

Listen. Think. Act.

That is what we are doing in Uganda. That is what we are doing with the University of Colorado and Makerere University. That is what we are doing through the Global Livingston Institute.

And that is what I did with my Fulbright.

What is the future of this partnership? A new approach to trucking and moving goods? A new approach to microfinancing with women in the slums of Kampala? An edgy local music festival in East Africa? A new approach to food and local cuisine in Kabale?

What can you do in 21 days?

You can meet with Cate who is a local Ugandan running Water for People and thinking differently about public health. You can plot with Dorothy to bring all 75 Ugandan Fulbright alumnae together for a retreat at Entusi in November to think about ways we can better work together with one another in East Africa and share ideas and build networks.

You can meet with the Ministry of Health and breakthrough bureaucratic barriers that will allow a shipment of $500 thousand worth of medical supplies from Project CURE to head to Uganda in May. You can meet with Michael who is helping local entrepreneurs buy their own boda-boda taxis or Isaac and Geoffrey who are working to rebrand the way people think about Kampala.

You can have dinner with Francis, who works with President Kigame, and ask him what it would take to create a think tank for community leaders and students in East Africa to really tackle complex social issues. Or you could hang out with Matthew Bravo and the Women’s Association (sounds like a new alternative music band) as they make soap, stationary and candles using local products in the Lake Bunyoni region.

You can watch the countless locals who are now employed to design, build and operate the Entusi resort and retreat center or you can talk to Sylvia about what it would take to have her students help shape the next big destination music festival in Southern Uganda.

At the end of the day, what I learned from my Fulbright and the countless men and women and children that I met along the way is that we are not thinking big enough. In fact, we are not thinking enough at all! We are doing. We act without thinking and we act without listening.

The opportunity for us to change the way we think about Africa… the way we think about all of our complex social issues around the globe rests with us and it requires us to Listen. Think. And then, only when necessary… Act. Let po (or pay attention) to the world around us. It is changing quickly and we can all be part of something very big.

I wish you Oburaumu (or life).

- Jamie

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