Dr. Hugo Kamya takes students to Uganda

July 28, 2016

Dr. Hugo Kamya

Dr. Kamya runs a SSW study abroad trip to his native Uganda.

What made you want to teach at Simmons SSW?

I have always loved the Simmons’ approach to clinical and macro work. I find Simmons’ intention to build a strong social justice agenda very attractive. Simmons also provided me with an opportunity to expand my research agenda in creative and innovative ways.

What about Simmons SSW made you think this course was a good fit?

As a school of social work, attention to global education is now a sine-qua-non. Social work education must now engage both the local and the global. We cannot afford to be isolationist in attending to different issues. In addition to fulfilling the social action requirement, the course offers students the opportunity to engage with human rights issues, even here, in a country that often prescribes to exceptionalism. Students are exposed to larger issues as they engage local issues and learn how the world is so interconnected.

Why is this course important to you?

This course builds realistic links between the developed world and the developing world. It opens our eyes to the importance of relationships and connections while offering students ways to build solidarity with those who may be less privileged. It also helps students to raise key questions in this ever changing world.

What are the differences between social work practice in Uganda and in the United States?

Uganda as a nation is very young. Mental health issues do not have as much support as they do in the US. Programs in Uganda that provide safety nets lack the support the programs US have. However, I must say that there is a strong collectivistic approach to social work in Uganda.

How does this course help the community you visit?

The communities in Uganda are in such dire need for connection. They believe there is so much they can learn from others as they also believe they have so much they can teach others. It is a mutually reinforcing opportunity for all parties involved.

How does this course help your students?

Students have come to appreciate the gifts they gain from such an amazing experience. Some students have talked about how the experience humbled them. They say it gave them insight into a world they would not have known in the same way.

What is your most memorable moment from past study abroad Uganda courses?

We served breakfast to a group of kids with whom we work. One kid put a piece of bread in his pocket and walked to school. When I approached him and asked him why he did not eat his bread, he said he was saving it for his brother who could not come that morning for breakfast.

What are you most looking forward to for this group of students and this course?

That even in such small moments one can make a difference! It is the starfish story!