Hey there! My name is Michael Clark, and I am a student in my final year at City University of New York at Hunter College. This is my pre-departure video before I go to Uganda to study “post-conflict transformation” with SIT/World Learning. First of all, I just have to say how grateful I am to have this opportunity to study abroad for the Fall 2016 semester and that it would not have been possible without the generous support from the Fund for Education Abroad, of which I am one of their “Rainbow Scholars”.
While in Uganda, I will be studying the relationship between public health and global conflict. In particular, I am interested LGBT stigma and discrimination in accessing HIV services in refugee communities. My primary motivation for studying abroad this semester is to actually get in the field and work directly with the vulnerable populations I’ve been studying the last few years. I look forward to learning from people who have been displaced and being inspired by their resilience despite the odds that conflict has dealt them.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some hesitation in being an out gay man going to Uganda, given the country’s torturous past with the LGBT community, particularly in the last few years. But I also feel it is a responsibility of mine to help highlight the continued struggle of this underground community and hopefully my research can join the amazing work that has already been done highlighting human rights abuses experienced by people solely because of their sexuality.
I also wanted to extend a big thank you to my academic advisor in the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Kate McPherson and my mentors, Professor Lesley Rennis and Professor Christian Grov. Without their encouragement and advice, I would be lost. Also, I want to thank the friends and supporters of my GoFundMe and finally a big thank you to my partner Christos for holding down the fort while I’m away. Without his support, and the support of my friends, this semester abroad would not be possible.
Follow my trip on Twitter (@HealthLGBTQ) or contribute to my GoFundMe.