By Kacie Mooney, '24
When people ask me “Why Notre Dame?”, I never know how to answer. There is no possible way to describe Notre Dame unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Aside from Notre Dame’s beautiful campus, phenomenal academics and athletics, the people are what truly make the place so special. With that, my experience in Uganda over winter break completely solidified the answer to “Why Notre Dame?”. There is no oher place that would give students like myself the opportunity to travel over 70 hours to a remote community in Uganda to offer help to girls in need of education. The experience completely changed my life.
While in Africa, our team had a goal of providing girls with better education in partnership with Saint Bakhita's Vocational Training Center. While trying to better the financ
ial stability of the school and make it fully functional by 2026, our team worked 15 hours days alongside Professor Wendy Angst who led us throughout our journey. The experience was one I never fully could have prepared for. From building and testing prototypes, implementing QuickBooks, conducting ethnographic interviews, to building connections with the local community members, dancing with the girls at Saint Bakhitas, and picking papayas at the 100 acre farm, I speak for everyone on the team when I say so much has been learned.
One of the experiences in Uganda that summed up the experience for me was hiking Mt. Kologo. It was such a steep, hard hike, and was challenging to work through. But when we reached the summit and got to see the sunrise above distant mountains, the challenge of getting up the mountain was so rewarding that I would do it 20 more times if I had the chance to. This reflected my experience traveling to Uganda. It was hard at times, but so rewarding. The people I have met and my aspirations for Saint Bakhita's got me through everything. Overall, I am so appreciative of the opportunity that was given to me through Notre Dame. This is exactly why ND is the place to be. I cannot thank everyone who made this possible enough, it truly was an experience of a lifetime.