Following are comments from parents of previous students. In addition, several parents from this group of students have offered to make their email addresses available to the parents of any potential USP students. If you would like to directly email a former USP parent, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"My husband and I experienced a great deal of concern and uneasiness when our daughter first expressed her desire to participate in the USP program in Uganda. When she said Uganda, we thought Africa - death, mutilation, disease, hunger, pestilence, and corruption. Annie continued to pray about this idea, as did we. After much prayer, serious thought, and many discussions we decided that since she was thinking about possibly being a missionary in Africa, it would be good for her to have some type of guided, protected experience in that location so that she could be better able to make a decision about locating there in the future.
Annie's USP experience was educational, enriching, and enlightening. It helped to give her a deeper perspective on life, death, survival, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and sharing. If, at anytime, our worries started to get the best of us we would email Mark Bartels, the program director, with our concerns and he would always get back to us within 24 hours. We kept in touch with Annie using our a phone card, which we purchased at a very reasonable rate. We were able to connect with her frequently and know that she was healthy, happy, and having some tremendous experiences. This one thing, in itself, was greatly reassuring.
All in all, Annie had a great experience and, now that she is back, I'm glad she went. It was difficult for my husband and myself for obvious reasons. If your son or daughter is thinking about participating in the USP program you, too, will have to do have to do some serious thinking and soul-searching. No one can guarantee your child's safety anywhere or anytime, even here at home, but the USP does a great job of doing everything possible to keep the students safe. For worrisome parents left behind I highly recommend the 91st Psalm. At times, it was the only thing that gave me peace. I sometimes wonder if Annie's experience in Uganda wasn't more difficult for us than dangerous for her."
"My daughter had an amazing semester at Uganda Christian University! The relationships formed are sure to be life-long, and the cross-cultural experience was invaluable. Any fears we as parents had in sending her that far away for that long were completely dispelled when we heard from her regularly via e-mail and discovered we could even have regular phone conversations with her. Our daughter grew in her understanding of African culture, compassion for the people of Uganda and neighboring areas, and vision for reaching and ministering to people of other cultures using their own indigenous methods. It was life changing in a very positive way."
"I too was a very apprehensive parent when Kimberlea told us of her desire to apply for this semester in Uganda. Kimberlea has wanted to go to Africa since she was a little girl. We felt we needed to allow her this opportunity and trust God for her care and wellbeing. She came back a changed girl - knowing and understanding herself and God so much better. The first weeks as I know she was adjusting, we as her parents were adjusting too. Our prayer life and our trust in God went to a new and higher level as we trusted Him with one of our most precious gifts. The key for us was having a very strong prayer support team - our families and our church prayed constantly for Kimberlea and all the students. She e-mailed me her experiences and I then e-mailed them on to her prayer supporters! It was very exciting to hear what God was doing and how He was protecting all! They were very excited to have her return and share with a power point presentation her semester. She was also able to share with a Christian elementary school she attended in one of their chapel times!"
"Uganda was such a great experience for Ben. I think it was a great experience for us as parents also. When he went to Uganda we were very nervous and didn't know what to expect as far as where he would be staying, what the classes would be like, how we could reach him, and, of course, we were concerned about his safety. All of us have misconceptions of Africa as do people there about Americans. Another concern I had was communicating with my son. The international phone card was great and we could always reach him."
"Doug's experience in the Uganda Studies Program was very beneficial. It opened his eyes to another culture, government, and life-style, giving him a new appreciation for God's blessings in his own life. The transition to the African culture was eased by the many off-campus opportunities afforded the students, and by the 'American' touches provided by the USP staff. The program introduced my son to new friends from all over the country, to new 'family members' in Africa, and served to whet his appetite for similar globe trotting adventures in the future. Thanks for opening a whole new world to him - and keeping him safe while doing it!"