When considering where to go for a two-week trip for a journalism class, Uganda never comes quickly to mind.
“It’s a relatively safe place to work out of with stories full of conflict,” said Brent Huffman, assistant professor of journalism who accompanied the MSJ students on the trip.
The trip to Uganda was built into the summer MSJ documentary class. Students did pre-production for four weeks, and flew out in the middle of the 10 week class to report. The students produced two documentaries from the trip, and both were incredibly successful, with one premiering at PBS and the other at a large film festival
“Jinja (the city in Uganda) is the perfect combination of English speakers, safe and having bigger issues that students can focus on,” Huffman said.
The documentaries focused the human aspects of normal, happy children – specifically, on superstition. The first told the story of a man with albinism who created an NGO to support and protect children with albinism from a culture in which albino children will be sacrificed. The second covered the story of children from poor families sold to witch doctors to be sacrificed.
“The fact that the students had this life-changing experience (nobody [from Medill] had ever been in Africa) was this incredible experience,” Huffman said. “Seeing the students grow and change, feel sad to leave and feel like a family member, they even keep in touch over Facebook!”
Rachael Ponn (MSJ15), one of the students on the trip, echoed Huffman’s remarks.
“I was able to go to Uganda and do exactly what I came here for,” Ponn said. “I’m so incredibly grateful to have been accepted to the Uganda experience.”
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