Estimated reading time: 1:45 | Original story appeared on the Daily Bulletin
By: Rebecca Wagner, Director of External Relations, United College

It was a winter break to remember for two University of Waterloo students.  

Emily Meissner and Millie Balmer are completing a placement in Kampala, Uganda, as part of the United College and Faculty of Environment-run International Development (INDEV) program that sees students complete an 8-month oversees placement, facilitated by the World University Service of Canada.        

Continuing the University of Waterloo’s deep tradition of experiential learning, the INDEV program places students in local community-based organizations, to make a meaningful contribution to the local community while learning in ways that are rarely available through the classroom alone.

Emily Meissner with members of the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA).

Emily Meissner with members of the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA).

Millie is working with the Africa Agribusiness Academy as a Communications Officer, helping to develop and implement a communications plan. Emily is working with the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) to support their social media, branding, and training activities.  

United College Academic Dean John Abraham visited Emily and Millie mid-December to check on their progress and adjustment in a new environment.        

This visit was timed perfectly, as being away from home can be difficult over the holidays. During the visit, John presented the students with holiday cards containing messages of support, encouragement, and well-wishes from United College faculty and staff, letting Millie and Emily know they have a community of support rooting for them on their journey.   

Upon his return, he shared his experience. “The students are doing well. They have started to navigate this incredible city on their own and have developed regular routines. Both organizations are very appreciative of their work. Over the holiday break, they went on a safari, which is an experience I think they will remember for a lifetime.”    

United College and the Faculty of Environment wish Emily and Millie well on their final term in Kampala, Uganda, and looks ahead to next year, where students will potentially be placed here again or other countries including Sri Lanka, Jordan, Malawi, Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

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As 2023 winds down, I would like to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful December break. Sharing food is one of the cornerstones of this time of year, so this season I’d like to share with you one of my own recipes with the hope that it nourishes and brings a little happiness.