Steamboat Springs Nearly two years have passed since Tiffany Russell arrived in Uganda for the first time. The Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus student spent eight months in the African country working with Come Let’s Dance, a nonprofit group founded in Steamboat Springs, to open a community medical clinic that now is used by children and their families.
“In Uganda I learned to be open to anything, to expect the unexpected and to be ready for something more amazing to happen than you ever would expect,” Russell said Monday.
The Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus student now is eager to return to the country next month to continue her humanitarian work.
“I can’t wait to go back. I miss it,” she said
Russell will arrive in Uganda next month as a member of CMC’s Students for Africa club that is slowly but eagerly expanding its reach. The club started last school year with only one student who traveled to Rwanda on a humanitarian trip. Today, it has five students who will spend three weeks in Uganda working on several projects with Come Let’s Dance that aim to empower African youths.
“This year is a test run for us,” club member Alex Boyle said Saturday at Bud Werner Memorial Library during a fundraiser that raised about $800 for the club. “We’re hoping this trip to Uganda leads to something more and that next year the club expands and becomes more active in our own community.”
Boyle has never been to Africa, but he said Monday that he is eager to combine his passion for working with children with his desire to tackle humanitarian issues in the faraway continent.
The Students for Africa club members on Saturday ate West African peanut soup, okra and tomatoes, and yams and green beans during the fundraiser that raised money to support the Come Let’s Dance projects the students will work on in Uganda. Large pictures of African youths lined the walls of Library Hall, where small groups of students, CMC faculty and community members spent the evening eating a traditional African meal and listening to live music.
The club has hosted several bake sales and other traditional fundraisers to collect the approximately $3,000 each member will need to cover their travel expenses.
When they arrive in Africa, the students will have an opportunity to work on a farm, in a medical clinic, at a sewing shop and in a school that all are supported by Come Let’s Dance.
“This trip is a great opportunity because the students can tailor it to their interests,” CMC English professor and Students for Africa club advisor Leslie Gumbrecht said. She said some of the students could decide to lead a lesson at a Ugandan school while others assist in the medical clinic.
“They learn so much about themselves on these trips,” Gumbrecht said. “The experience is never really something you can prepare students for.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com