My exchange history includes a single month in Uganda with BoldLeaders in 2013 and six months in Senegal with YES Abroad in 2015-2016. While I learned a great deal from both programs, I feel I grew far more during my month in Uganda than I did my six months in Senegal due to the BoldLeaders training, intention, and support I received before and during my time in Uganda.
Traveling abroad is always a valuable experience, but there are great depths that may never be discovered if you are not actively searching for them. Being overseas can easily be a purely superficial experience.
A new country has many fascinating sights, sounds, smells, and so on, which makes it easy to get swept up in appearance rather than substance. When I was trained and prepared by BoldLeaders I was able to take in the beautiful surface of Uganda, but also able to look deeper into myself and those around me. That ability made my time in Uganda life changing. I had found a new way of relating to the world around and within me, and forged many incredible relationships with both Ugandans and my fellow BoldLeaders that are still strong to this day. My time in Senegal was very different. While I still retained my BoldLeaders principles, YES Abroad did not provide similar training or encourage practicing something internal. I was swept up again and again in the superficial, and struggled with the personal growth that had come so naturally while I was in Uganda with BoldLeaders. Ultimately it’s difficult to compare my experiences since they were so very different, and I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent in both countries, but my hardships in Senegal made me realize the importance of having an intentional and internal practice like I did in Uganda.