Written by Crystal Soderberg, UDS Communications & Outreach Coordinator
This past December, 75 Uniting Distant Stars members (both students and staff) were had the opportunity to embark on a two-day field trip to a satellite tech-school in Buchanan Grand Bassa County! Thanks to the generosity of our donors and one very giving sponsor, it was possible to give some of our students their first trip out of Monrovia.

If you are not familiar with Buchanan, it is about 2 hours down the coast of Liberia from Monrovia, towards their bordering country Cote d’Ivoire. Buchanan is the third largest city in Liberia, with a population of approximately 97,000 fewer people than the Monrovian capital. (Government of The Republic of Liberia’s 2008 National Population and Housing Census). The city is located right on the coast of the Waterhouse Bay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean, which houses a large fishing industry. Buchanan is also home to The Liberia Opportunities Industrialization Center, or, “LOIC.” This center was founded in 1977 and has many shared values with Uniting Distant Stars. As of 2013, they had 177 young people attending training courses in electricity, tailoring, carpentry and more. Both organizations aim to target post-war recovery and to educate and train their students for high-demand jobs in Liberia.

With everyone ready to go on the bus to LOIC, UDS students and staff readied themselves for a trip just over two hours long. No one was quite ready for the bus to break down on the drive and turn this into a five-hour trek. This bumpy start resulted in higher energy for the kickball and football games that the students played when they got into town. The men’s football jerseys were hand printed by UDS’ very own, Godfrey Solomon, who is a volunteer administrator.

UDS Kickball (left) and Football (right) teams.

After the games, everyone attended a short program for the LOIC student leader elections and feasted on food provided by our support staff. Following the elections, both our students and teachers had an opportunity to network with their peers. Our Liberian Co-Founder and Executive Director received a great deal of feedback from our students and teachers on the quality of education and support received by UDS. This gave them an opportunity to compare the two institutions and learn from each other.

UDS Kickball (left) and Football (right) teams.

As eventful as the day was, both teams gained valuable learning experience from this trip, both in visiting a new city and in learning about an institution that runs on similar values to their own. The UDS students and staff were fortunate to spend the night with family in the area before heading home the following day!