First Uganda Trip Since Coronavirus Cancelled Due to Ebola

By Kyra Krzywicki – Staff Writer

The theology department recently canceled its annual intersession trip to Uganda because of an Ebola outbreak in the country. 

The decision comes after two years of coronavirus related cancellations, leaving at least three senior classes without the opportunity to take the trip.  

Charles Pinches, who has a doctorate in theology, said the trip, which has been running since 2006, pairs with a theology course that covers topics like the massacre of 45 Ugandan martyrs in the late 19th century and the subsequent nationwide spread of Christianity. 

“That’s the kind of core story when we’re there. When I take everybody there, we go to the shrine and we learn that story but then we also see how the church has developed since then, and the church is probably the most trusted institution in Uganda,” Pinches said.  

Pinches said that the church runs most of the schools and hospitals in Uganda as well. 

Since the theology department visits hospitals while on the tour, nursing and health administration students have also been invited to join them and partake in their own respective Uganda-centered courses on campus. 

“The nurses who come on the trip usually spend a day in the hospitals, dealing with people in the rural area that’s down by the rainforest, and you know they just get a sense of their life and what it’s like and they’re, first of all, kind of blown away by the difficulties that people have to face and admire the courage of the people,” Pinches said. 

Junior biology and philosophy double major Caitlin Doughton was looking forward to going on the 2023 trip after hearing about the itinerary in a class with Pinches last spring. 

“I was enamored by the rich culture of the country, which appeared drastically unique compared to my own. Also, as a pre-med student, I was looking forward to visiting hospitals and an HIV AIDS clinic to experience how the healthcare in Uganda differs from that in America,” Doughton said.  

Doughton and her fellow student travelers had only put one initial deposit down for the trip, but she was still disappointed after the decision to cancel and refund.  

“I was definitely shocked when I heard that the trip has to be canceled, since I was looking forward to it for over six months,” Doughton said.  

One of the top selling points for the trip is the potential to see the scenery and wildlife native to Uganda.  

“There are lions, elephants. We take a boat trip that runs on a channel between two lakes, like two hours and you see remarkable things, hippos and elephants. The students are blown away by that,” Pinches said.  

Doughton cited both the religious and geographic nature of the trip as reasons for her excitement.  

“I was looking forward to learning how the Ugandan culture is implemented into the practice of Christianity. Also, as an avid traveler, I was excited to experience the Ugandan national parks, grasslands and rainforests, which I have never seen in the past,” she said.  

Though Pinches knows these elements potentially spark the most interest in students at first, he tries to make sure they know the deeper purpose for the trip.  

“I don’t think it motivates them. I try to make sure it doesn’t, but they, you know they’re excited to see that. But usually at the end of the trip, they have this sense that, well, that’s not the main reason to go because what we really, what’s the most important thing on the trip is the interaction we have with people but also really having to face poverty that is so extensive,” Pinches said.  

Pinches and Doughton are hopeful that they can try to take the trip in 2024 since next year’s plans had to change.  

“You know it’ll probably be gone by the time we go in January, maybe not gone but contained, but actually planning it now is very difficult because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Pinches said. 

If you are interested in learning more about the potential 2024 Uganda trip, contact Charles Pinches for information.