Capturing the essence of Uganda: Williams’ experience abroad

Capturing the essence of Uganda: Williams’ experience abroad

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 11:15am
Bride Isabella Katwesigye
Bride Isabella Katwesigye smiles while listening to her family speak during her traditional wedding ceremony. In addition to covering this story, Tess Williams had various opportunities to immerse herself in the rich culture of Uganda. Photo by Tess Williams.

by Kelsey Hansen, senior advertising and public relations major

For Tess Williams, the beginning of summer is a time of working the daily grind of a full-time job. This summer, thanks to her love of photography, it marked an unforgettable opportunity that would place out of her nine-to-five comfort zone and into the slums of Uganda.

Williams is a senior, advertising and public relations and broadcasting double major whose passion for photography stemmed from bonding with a family member.

“My aunt is a graphic designer and photographer and always did crafts with me when I was little,” Williams said. “She inspired me to be creative and bought me my first camera when I was a kid, and that’s always been special to me.”

That passion compelled Williams to take her love for photography abroad to Uganda last summer via the Global Eyewitness program. She was selected for the program along with nine other CoJMC students. In Uganda, Williams was exposed to eye-opening situations and created meaningful connections with people whose smiles are forever ingrained in Williams’ memories.

“One of my stories focused around a nurse who took care of patients in rural communities,” Williams said. “On an excursion with her I visited a woman with terminal breast cancer, and although her life was coming to an end, she was the happiest person I have ever met and had the brightest smile…Her name was Regina and she still sticks with me.”

Her story reflects the staggering differences in health care in developing countries such as Uganda. Williams’ other story in contrast, illustrates the cultural bridge that film provides as an outlet for creativity, a story Williams covered with fellow student James Wooldridge.

“Tess and I wanted to cover a unique feel good story,” Wooldridge said. “I came across this story about guys in the slums that were making action movies with next to nothing budgets and empowering Ugandans while doing so. It was a story that needed to be told and Tess was the perfect person to cover it with.”

Adapting to an alien environment has its challenges, but for Williams, none of those numerous struggles outweighed the possibility of going on another expedition.

“I would go back in a heartbeat if I wasn’t graduating,” Williams said. “I actually applied for Peace Corps and if accepted, will hopefully be returning to Africa after I graduate.”