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Gymnast Experiences Bigger Picture in Africa

Aug 13, 2013

By Tori Garcia

AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn gymnastics sophomore Kelsey Thomasson spent nine days in July on a mission trip to Uganda with Cornerstone Church in Auburn. She and 15 other members of the congregation traveled to Africa through a missions program.

Thomasson heard about the opportunity during her freshman year on The Plains and couldn't pass up the opportunity this summer.

"Just hearing the stories and experiences from other people in the church, the things they got to see and what they got to do, sounded amazing," Thomasson said. "I wanted to see and experience it firsthand."

Thomasson had been on several mission trips previously, but unlike past trips, her goal this summer was to travel internationally and to see the bigger picture.

Having endured a trip of more than 15 hours from Atlanta to Rwanda, Uganda and finally to the base site in Kampala, Thomasson was excited.

"It was a long trip between flights and busses, but we were really excited to finally be there," Thomasson said.

The group, who returned on July 22, stayed in Kampala, Uganda each night and traveled to the small town of Buloba each day to help teach elementary school-aged children.

Each morning the group took a 45-minute bus ride to the Ebenezer Preparatory School in Buloba. They split up into five groups, each group teaching a different subject to a 28-student class.

Thomasson's group focused on teaching math and geometry to children between the ages of 9-11.

While the group wasn't busy teaching the kids at the school or playing with the kids at Buloba Community Church, they were free to explore and be tourists. The group enjoyed a boat trip to Lake Victoria, going to Bethany Village, shopping at markets, and eating all the fresh food.

"Everyone was very friendly, but obviously we kind of stuck out," Thomasson said. "We'd be driving down the road and everyone would just wave."

Overall, the trip was a great experience for the gymnast.

"This trip really put things into perspective for me, and I had fun experiencing a new culture," Thomasson said.



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