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African American Cultural Center Launches first AACC Tour, Exploring Uganda, Africa

– By Dr, Sheila Smith McKoy, Director, African American Cultural Center


The African American Cultural Center launched its inaugural AACC Tour during a winter break trip to Uganda.  Four current students, one recent graduate and two faculty members joined AACC director Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy in Uganda from December 26, 2012 - January 6, 2013. Along with its university partner, CSLEPS (the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics, and Public Service), the AACC led the first NC State program in Uganda. Guided by our faculty expert, Dr. James Kiwanuka-Tondo, Associate Professor of Communications and a native of Uganda, the tour enabled students and faculty to study Ugandan and Buganda culture and history and to work on projects focused on HIV/AIDS and water access.

The AACC Tour program is designed to enable faculty, students, and members of the community to travel to Africa and African descent cultures in a unique blend of research, service, and cultural exploration. The Uganda participants met with the Prime Minister of the Buganda people, Engineer J. B. Walusimbi, to discuss the history and culture of the Buganda. They also worked with TASO:The AIDS Service Organization of Uganda and met with water resource officials about water issues in the county. Participants met with residents of fishing villages to discuss water and health related issues, standing just a hundred feet from a family of hippos! Of course, no trip to Uganda would be complete without including the wildlife.  In addition to learning about the topography of resources in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, our team participated in land and water safaris, toured a botanical garden, and animal rescue park, and visited Jinga, Uganda to view the source of the Nile River.

Park Scholar Maggie Miller, a Psychology major, and Kailtin Grant, a Textiles major joined the tour as freshmen. Human Biology majors Sakai Williams and Tori Huffman, also a Park Scholar, will continue to focus on the issues related theHIV/AIDS treatment and research initiatives in an independent study course offered through the Africana Studies Program. And Ana-Alecia Espino, a December 2012 graduate in International Studies, had the opportunity to connect with government officials in Uganda before starting her career in International Relations. 

 In addition to Smith McKoy and Kiwanuka-Tondo, Dr. Derek Aday, Associate Professor of Biology, joined the tour to explore issues related to water access. Aday also began work on a documentary project based on his research on the tour. The faculty members are also working on grant initiatives that will provide students with opportunities to work on water access issues and in global health communications. From these initiatives, the AACC Tour in Uganda will also provide the students and faculty with opportunities to engage in sustainable activities and programs that will continue to benefit our students and our Ugandan partners.

There is also a way for all NC State students, faculty, and staff to participate in one of the sustainable initiatives from the AACC-CSLEPS Uganda Tour. All of the participants donated books to the newly founded Mutesa I Royal University, a university named for one of the ancient kings of Buganda and supported by the Buganda people. Anyone wishing to donate their textbooks to the university can bring their donations to the African American Cultural Center.  The Buganda government will pay all expenses related to mailing the books to Uganda.