The purpose of this project trip was to do a site assessment for African Bible University for their future expansion plans. A good site assessment involves a lot of measuring, conferring with staff on their vision, and engineers peering into holes. At the end of our time, the hope is to have a solid scope of data in place that will allow the next team to move forward with a master plan for building.
That's what the math experts did. The two of us who focus on imagery (Audio-Visual Communications Engineering) also spent a lot of time conferring with staff and students, but for different reasons. Joel and I were collecting footage and interviews in order to produce a video that would aid ABU in attracting more students. We heard a lot of stories of what compelled current students to get an education here. We asked questions such as, "What have you seen in Uganda that you want to change?" And, "How has your time here equipped you to go back and make a positive impact in your community?" Their answers, as well as what we witnessed in classrooms and around campus, was insightful and encouraging.
Over and over we heard students tell of the deep need for well-grounded study of the Bible, for pastors and leaders whose zeal could be backed up with serious knowledge. They spoke of a desire to be positive influencers in secondary education, communications, and business. With the training they receive, graduates are well-equipped to do just that.
In addition to interviews, Joel and I were in the classrooms filming lectures. I kept walking in with my goal being to just get some good B-roll of faculty and students together in a clear classroom setting and I was not concerned so much with recording the audio of the teaching content. In each room I entered I found myself wanting to stick around and learn too. No matter what subject was being taught, the teachers were all beginning from the Word of God and building on that world view. I kept thinking, "If any of my own children wanted to come here for college I would be fully supportive."
While the cost of their education is minimal by US standards, it is a huge stretch for most Ugandans and no student is taking their four years at ABU for granted. Each one told us of very specific hopes and dreams for the future. They all know what they want to do and in not one single case did we hear a student tell of selfish ambition. It was always about giving back to others and serving God.
ABU's Uganda campus has been under capacity for several years and they desire to change that. It was the job of our architects and engineers to get a good handle on what the existing property capacity is and how best to utilize that space for maximum potential. That's where the "peering into holes" part came in. Our civil team looked into almost every septic tank, drain hole, water tank, and soak pit on the site. I watched one of our interns bravely poke his head and hands far into a black concrete pit lined with cobwebs, roaches, and scurrying beetles that conjured up a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. They also had to dig holes, which is no small feat in Uganda. The soil is solidly packed and a simple perc test hole usually took a few hours of effort to dig. I should also mention Uganda is on the equator. So it was hot. Very, very hot. No one had the extra energy to throw stuff at me when I tried to get photos of them sweating and breaking shovels.
We took most of our meals in the dining hall with students and most of the time we had one or two join us at our table, affording us yet another opportunity to get to know them. At other times we were treated to dinner or lunch with staff at their residences (on campus). Perhaps the most striking observation I had was how much the faculty genuinely care for the students and how everyone strives to make the campus a true supportive community. The four years of study is about more than gaining knowledge and a marketable skill - it's about discipleship and fellowship.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.