NYC stopover provides bonding time

Early Thursday morning, 11 of my classmates and I, along with two professors, gathered outside the IMU and to catch our shuttle to the Indianapolis Airport. This would be the first of many shuttles on our journey to Kampala, Uganda, where we will intern at the Daily Monitor, reporting on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.

Between homework and packing, there was little time to actually comprehend that we would be in Uganda in a few short days. Stepping onto the shuttle jolted something awake in me, making me realize our long journey had officially begun.

The consensus amongst our group was a feeling of excitement and disbelief that the trip was finally beginning. Of course, there were nerves as well as the reality of our trip began setting in.

After leaving Indianapolis, we arrived at JFK. Since our flight didn’t leave until the next morning, we had time to spend a lovely afternoon in the city. We met Professor Kelly’s daughter Anna Kelly and her roommate, Sharanya Jaidev. Sharanya works for the Clinton Foundation on HIV prevention and treatment in Kampala, which gave us a chance to ask her about her work and ideas for sources and stories we can write.

Seeing Professor Kelly with his daughter was great as we saw him in full-on dad mode.

Each step of our journey in NYC helped us get to know each other better. Strolling around Central Park gave us the chance to bond as we recognized Gossip Girl filming locations and visited Strawberry Fields and the 9/11 memorial. The long subway rides provided ample time for conversation.

As the day went on, our group seemed more and more comfortable with one another.

Now we are waiting at the airport for our 12-hour flight to Dubai. Ideally, most of us hope to sleep most of the time, waking up only for meals. Though we are all anxious to finally arrive in Uganda, our layover in NYC gave us a wonderful break to get to know each other before our arrival in Uganda.