Jim's firsts

When you spend every day and night with a group of people, it becomes easy to learn a lot about them. Throughout this trip, I have learned random things about associate professor Jim Kelly, his trips to Uganda and his pre-professional life. The topic of firsts has been a consistent one.

Jim Kelly has led the trip to Uganda three times. (Nadia Ibrahim | The Media School)

Jim Kelly has led the trip to Uganda three times. (Nadia Ibrahim | The Media School)

This is the third time Jim has brought students to Uganda and the sixth time he’s been here overall, yet it’s still a year of many firsts. This is the first year he’s been able to successfully visit the Uganda National Mosque, also known as the Gaddafi Mosque; the first year he’s taking his students to the Ssese Islands; where we will travel this weekend; the first time he’s seeing the Botanical Gardens, which we will visit before the islands; and the first year he’s taking his students to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a game drive.

These many firsts make this trip pretty special. All of us are experiencing new things almost every weekend — not just the students or our lovely chaperone, associate professor Mike Conway. And all of us are equally excited for the festivities to come.

At dinner last night, we learned about Jim’s first car, a 1966 royal blue, white-top Volkswagen microbus. We got a kick out of picturing a young hippie-like Jim, who apparently had a “snake braid” that went down his back and tucked into his belt; “belt-tuckable hair” is what we called it.

He then showed us what that looked like by attempting it on my hair. He only got so far until he realized he had lost his snake-braiding abilities.

The fact that he’s introducing us to so many new things while also introducing himself to new things is fun for everyone. Not only are we learning a lot about Professor Kelly, we are learning about each other and the beautiful country of Uganda.