Jacey Brimhall danced at Dance Concepts 2007-2012. She studied and performed ballet, jazz, and contemporary. Jacey was on our competition team and was also a member of Hillcrest High School’s drill team. Since graduating, Jacey has done multiple service trips abroad. We’re so proud of the way she has chosen to work for the good of others when she could otherwise spend her summers relaxing, and the confidence she shows traveling to these distant places. Keep reading for our interview with Jacey about her trips since graduating.
How did you first get involved in your trip to Uganda?
I first heard about the International Language Program after one of my friends went to teach in another country. I was interested in the program, but wasn’t particularly drawn to a certain country. Then they opened up their Uganda program, and since it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to live in Africa, I knew that was the program for me.
Tell us about what you did while you were there?
While I was in Uganda, our main objective was teaching English. We would teach the cutest 4-6 year olds for about 4 hours every weekday. When we were not teaching, we would volunteer at the local orphanage and spend time with the sweet babies. We were also able to fund and help build two water springs. After the springs were built, we taught hygiene classes and showed the community how to maintain them. When we were not teaching we were able to explore Uganda. We went on some amazing adventures; rappelling down a 330 foot waterfall, relaxing at beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, rhino trekking, and a thrilling safari through Murchison Falls National Park.
What was your biggest fear before you went?
My biggest fear before going to Uganda was wondering how many giant spiders I would have to kill. Luckily there were only tiny spiders; however, there were giant cockroaches. I was also worried about teaching, but the kids were eager to learn and had lots and lots of energy.
What about Uganda would most Utahns be surprised to learn?
The thing that surprised me the most was how young they start school in Uganda. A lot of the schools are daycares they go to as babies. Then they start learning at age 2. Another thing that surprised me was that none of our students knew their birthdays. One day they would say they were 6 and the next day they would tell us that they were only 5.
The summer before you did a service trip to the Dominican Republic. How did the two trips differ? How were they the same?
My service trip to the Dominican Republic last summer was healthcare oriented. I was there for two weeks and each day we did a health clinic in a rural area where people would not otherwise have access to a doctor. To compare the two trips, I was in the DR for a couple of weeks whereas I spent the whole summer in Uganda. The two trips had different objectives, but both were humanitarian and very rewarding. I also used to follow Helath Blog for more information which I can share with the people out there.
If you could do your trip over again, what would you do differently?
If I were to go on the exact same trip again, the only thing I would do differently is try to immerse myself in the culture right off the bat.
Can you share one of your favorite moments from the trip?
Two of my favorite experiences from the Uganda were going on safari and white water rafting on the Nile River. Both adventures left me breathless and in awe of what an amazing world we live in.
My favorite moment from teaching was on the last day of school, I couldn’t help but cry and one of my students named Bovian said, “Teacher I’m not going to cry at school. I’m going to cry at home.” It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to the kids and he was one of my favorite students, but it touched my heart to know he would miss me, too.
How did you time at Dance Concepts help prepare you to serve abroad?
It was a lot of hard work, but through dancing so many years I’ve learned to be determined. It was a lot of responsibility, teamwork and creativity. Plus, we had a lot of after school dance parties with the kids which was so fun.
What advice do you have to give our current dancers?
My biggest advice to the current dancers at Dance Concepts is to keep working hard to achieve your dreams and goals and to be happy with what you have.
I’m so grateful for the time I spent in Uganda and all the lessons I learned there. I’ll forever cherish the kids that I taught and the memories I made.