Tag Archives: thank you

Friends

There are nine Creighton students in this trip’s program – enough for a baseball team. I think we’ve ended up somewhat like the bunch from “The Sandlot.” I can’t assign a character from the film to each program participant. But, we’ve spent our summer (at least part of it) in the dirt (of Uganda) spending each day out in the field (but not baseball field). We’ve formed a team (but not a baseball team) out of a ragtag bunch of individuals who would otherwise pass each other on the mall without any clue of our compatibility. And, just as a guy in the Sandlot was never replaced when he moved away, each member of this group is irreplaceable. 

 

My blogs have largely focused on my encounter with native Ugandans and South Sudanese refugees. But, this program and my experience would be incomplete without the Creighton students with whom I traveled across the world (and Nile). In the process, I’d say we’ve become pretty close. They are each wonderfully and beautifully quirky. And I want to share some of that quirk, so what follows is just a glimpse into their awesomeness: 

 

Ben plays Just Dance with his two younger brothers; their favorite song to dance to is some German song (I forgot the name). He is also prone to wandering in airports, especially if tempted with an ice cream shop (such as Coldstone) or a store with touristy apparel. 

 

Andrew prefers gummy bears to gummy worms. When he was younger, he put gummy bears in his ice cream so that they would harden and played with them as one would play with toys. He also loves crepes and can quote PBS Kid’s “Arthur.”

 

Jacob bottle feeds lambs and knows all the words to Childish Gambino’s “Sweatpants” (and a lot of other songs). He imitates the flight of a butterfly with surprising grace and fluidity. 

 

Zach carries around a Mexican flag in his backpack no matter where he goes. He is more observant of signs and billboards than any other person I have ever met. 

 

Matthew ruined a field trip to the zoo for his classmates when he told them that the elephant was circling with its head tilted due to mental instability caused by its captivity. He also plays Call of Duty with Denver Nuggets players. 

 

Izzy is a FANTASTIC writer and, as a kid, checked out 10 books (the maximum number you can check out) each week from her local library. She has a dark sense of humor revealed in her rizzles. 

 

Nat might be growing a parasitic worm in her stomach right now but loves that worm with all her heart (as with all things) despite the intestinal issues it causes. She can fall asleep ANYWHERE. 

 

Brick can make a tastier apple pie than me and is great at Go Fish and two-person solitaire. And although not great at soccer, the fact that he even tried makes him braver than I will ever be. 

 

Here’s to my new friends! 

 

Friends, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU and know that “I’ll be there for you (When the rain starts to pour)” (the Friends’ theme song) even if it pours as hard as it did in the middle of Sharon’s first interview. 

Webale nyo, Uganda

6/17/18

In honor of Father’s Day, and that we are starting our journey home, I thought this blog would be fitting.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has instilled in me something that I will never forget. He has always told me to give thanks to those in my life, three different times. “You always thank someone in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end”. He really drove this home. Whether it was a friend who brought me to the movies, or a mentor who impacted me throughout high school, you always thank them a minimum of three times and you always spread it out. This is one of the things I admire most about my dad, although there are many, is his ability to give thanks. He is gracious in the delivery, and genuine in the thanks that he gives. I will always take this from him and strive to do the same.

My dad, Joe, and I circa 2001

If I am going to follow through with it, it would only be appropriate to thank Uganda, the right way.

Dear Uganda,

In the beginning, thank you for being a foreign and seemingly out-of-reach project. Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone and pushing me to join a journalism project, having never been exposed to journalism. Thank you for introducing me to humans at Creighton that I would not have crossed paths with otherwise (especially since they are some of the best walking planet Earth). Thank you for pushing me out of the summer status-quo and saving me from having to get a boring desk job for the entirety of the summer. Thank you for making me feel anxious before our departure. It reminded me of the rawness of life I would have the opportunity to experience.

In the middle, thank you for the beautiful people of your country for touching my heart. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms. Thank you for not being too mad when we’ve shoved cameras in your face. Thank you for creating some of the most beautiful landscapes and animals I have ever seen in my life. Thank you for supporting these refugees. Thank you for making me feel empathetic in any way I can. Thank you for instilling gratitude, hunger for change and compassion in me. Thank you for bringing us Herbert (our amazing Ugandan guide). Thank you for making me feel safe.

As we come to a close, thank you for making me cry in the Entebbe airport. Thank you for ruining me for life. Thank you for making me want to go back to Uganda, already. Thank you for sharing your richness with us. Thank you for letting us tell a fraction of your people’s stories. Thank you for making me feel closest to a human being as I ever have.

Webale nyo*, Uganda.

And happy Father’s Day, dad. Thank YOU for always encouraging me to walk as many parts of the world as I can. I miss you.

Some of the beautiful giraffes we can thank Uganda for at Murchison Falls National Park

*“Thank you very much” in Luganda

Closing Time

*Clue Semisonic’s Closing Time**

These past five weeks are something I never could have expected.

At the beginning of this Backpack Journalism project, I didn’t really know what to expect and looking back at my first blogs, I can only laugh. I was clueless of the greatness that would unfold in the next few weeks. Now that class is officially over (we got out today at 11:00), I can only feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards everyone we met, the CU Backpack Alaska team, and Bethel.

Thank you to Carol, John, and Tim for guiding, teaching, and letting us learn hands-on how to film, write, and create a documentary. Without all of the work you had done in preparation and throughout our trip, it wouldn’t have been possible in any way.

Thank you to Nichole for all of the behind-the-scenes work you did. And for also believing Morgan when he said that he was going to use the net to catch sea otters.

The CU Backpack Family
The CU Backpack Family (Photo: John O’Keefe)

Thank you to all of my peers who have gone through video boot camp, traveled 2,999 miles to Bethel, and worked the past two weeks starting to piece our film together along side me. Thanks for diving into this project and motivating me to do my best. Ily.

I haven’t laughed this much or this often in such a long time. Thank you for almost giving me a six-pack. Seriously, these people are hilarious and brought so much happiness to my days. For evidence, check out our superlatives or the catches phrases from the trip.

This experience has shown me much joy–in people, in our work, and in myself.

Thank you.  Quyana.

“Experience is the Master” From Tuesday July 3rd. What I learned in Africa.

Motorbike that I got this quote from. It was outside the Radio WA tower.

Our final blog post is supposed to be what we learned about journalism, theology, the world and ourselves. Because this is so broad, I am going to try to use a list with a comment for each day I spent in Africa. I put them in order with the most important at the end. This is what I learned:

  1. I need to return to Africa to learn more about world, the religion, journalism and myself. “We learn who we are in the process of discovering who we are not.” Thanks to the past month I have a better understanding of who I am not, who I want to be and who I can be. It is a refreshing and welcomed clarity that has been a long time coming.
  2. Time is relative. Sometimes it will feel like I have a lot and sometimes it will feel like I have a little. But the moments that matter will be the ones when I am not keeping track.
  3. No matter what happens to me, I am okay.
  4. “The world is not like west Omaha. 90% of the world is just as poor, helpless and isolated as the people in Abia. Abia is what the world really looks like.” –John O’keefe.
  5. “When you sing, it is as if you pray twice.” –Choir member at Uganda Martyrs’ Church, Lira.
  6. There are certain concepts—self-confidence, self-pity, self-loathing, self-deceit, self-denial and self-indulgence—that seem only to exist in America. I have learned: they do not belong elsewhere.
  7. As I told Jason a couple of nights ago: “Yes. I am a Christian. No, I am not sure that I was before Africa. I guess I thought I was, but not like I am now. No, I don’t know who or what God is. But I know that I need him. I know that my friends and family need him. And I know that he is my teacher, my leader and someone I should always emulate to be like in my life.”
  8. Journalism is all around us. Wonderful things exist in extreme pollution, poverty, disease and warfare. There is always beauty among the rubble. A story exists that someone doesn’t have the words for and a story exists that someone else doesn’t have the ears for. There is always knowledge among the ignorant. There is always beauty and knowledge to be shared.
  9. The church and religion have the power to change—to fix—the world. Not because of what they preach, the power they bestow or the salvation they provide, but because of how they bring us together in a world were we see only light not darkness, only the calm not the storm, only strength not weakness and only peace not violence.
  10. I don’t know what it was about Africa, the people I went with, or the people I met there, but those two weeks in June were the happiest, the saddest and the most alive I have ever been. Africa shocked me. Silenced me.  And then gave me words and a voice I didn’t know I could find.
  11. I have a voice. I have a strong voice. And I have a strong head. And I have a strong heart. I am so lucky that I have the ability to observe, to report and to share with those that lack these things.
  12. I will have hard and easy times in my life. During the easy times there will be two sets of footprints in the sand: God’s and mine. During the hard times there will only be one set. Those are the times that he carries me.
  13. The most important things in this world—trust, empathy, happiness, celebration, hospitality, gratitude, assistance, faith, admiration and friendship—do not need a common language.
  14. Regardless if you have known someone two years or two weeks, there are certain people’s souls that your heart will call home and others that will kick you out. Never let go of those that welcome you after two weeks.
  15. No matter what, I always have more to give. Even when I am tired, sick, sweaty, sad, lonely, underappreciated, poor, homeless, disappointed, lost, hopeless and unconfident in my actions, my achievements and myself… I can still lift others up to a place I can only one day hope to be.

I read the above probably 20 times before I published them. I mean every word. And now I only have two left to say to the people of Uganda, those that we interviewed, the people of Abia, the students of Ave Maria, the people who paint the signs, the soccer kids from the village, Herbert, Fred, Nicole, the boy in the green shirt, O’Keefe, Carol, and the students that went with me (especially Teresa and Chase), all of whom have changed me for the better and for good in a way I could never have done on my own: Apwoyo Matek.

Thank you for the experience