As diverse as Anderson University students may be, one thing many have in common is a life-changing overseas experience. Sophomore biology major Joshua Smith recently went on an international mission trip to Uganda with his church. Although the trip was not through an AU program, the university made a substantial contribution by donating science equipment and by encouraging students to embrace lives of service.
On June 11, members of the Crossroads Church of God boarded a plane to Africa. The group consisted of 14 church members, ranging in age from 18 to 78 years old. This was Smith’s first international mission trip, and the third trip the church has made to the Kasubi Secondary School in Lolwe Island, Uganda. During the initial trip to Uganda, a teacher spoke to the Crossroads group about the poorly funded science program. Unable to purchase up-to-date lab equipment, the students had never used a microscope. The teacher feared that without the necessary lab equipment, his students would never be able to truly appreciate science. The mission group saw a need in the Ugandan schools and hoped that someday they would be able to help.
The teacher encouraged the church group to seek monetary donations from their congregation to obtain the funds for microscopes. After learning of the school’s lack of resources, Smith stumbled across the biology department’s microscopes during a late-night study session. “I was studying late one night for a biology lab test, and noticed that the old microscopes were sitting on a shelf in the lab,” said Smith. “I grabbed one and checked it out, and I realized that they still worked really well.”
Smith approached Dr. Blake Janutolo, dean of the College of Science and Humanities, and requested the department donate the microscopes to the Kasubi Secondary School. Janutolo and the biology department agreed to donate two microscopes to the cause. “I was pleased to know that something we no longer needed could be put to good use in Uganda,” said Janutolo.
During his three weeks in Uganda, Smith recalls the students’ reactions to the donated lab tools. “They were thrilled, as were the teachers. They were amazed by the precision of the microscopes and extremely grateful for the donation,” said Smith. “I learned that education is a blessing. Education gives us an opportunity to constantly grow and improve ourselves which gives us the ability to learn what we like and do what we love.”
Along with the microscopes, Crossroads Church of God also donated hygiene products, clothing, sandals, glasses, backpacks, and school supplies. Smith plans to return to Uganda in June 2013 through the church. He is grateful for the opportunity to return and looks forward to being around the Ugandan people once again. “They have this unashamed, unrelenting faith and desire to learn. It’s alive, joyous and, at times, seemingly tangible,” said Smith. “You can see their passion in their ways of worship, actions, and even their smiles. It’s a kind of passion I strive for.”
— Kristen Schaap is a senior from Chicago, Ill., majoring in communication arts. Schaap is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.