The eleventh Investment Year (IY) class marked the completion of their time in the program at the end of last month! Each year, Senior 4 leavers (10th grade graduates) at New Hope Uganda take part in IY as a gap year before going to further education at boarding schools.
IY is designed to help students learn and grow in the areas of character, knowledge, and skills. This is done through various trainings together as a group, as well as each participant doing three work placements depending on his/her areas of interest. Many students initially feel like it is a waste of time, since it is a unique program to NHU and adds an extra year to their educational journey. But during the year, they come to see the value of what they have experienced.
Testimonies from sons and daughters completing IY are always the highlight of the handover event, when the finishing IY class welcomes in the new S4 leavers who will start IY in January.
One son from Kobwin faced a very challenging year, including painful times. God’s concern in his life was to bring change, he said, and so this son learned to submit to authority and gave his life totally to God during the year! “Because God was ahead, the year was good!” he added.
Two daughters, one from Kasana and one from Kobwin, both shared about how they had feared public speaking before taking part in IY. But one of the trainings that is part of the curriculum is learning how to speak in front of others – and so these young ladies had no problem standing in front of the gathered group to tell what they had learned during the year!
A son from Kasana talked about the difficulty of his internship in Kampala, which is the capital city with a much more urban environment than he was accustomed to. Kampala tries to define people by changing how they walk, dress, and talk, he said. Through that experience, he learned how to be who he is rather than giving into that pressure.
He also testified about how he felt God speaking to him during the fasting day of the ROPES camp at Musana Camps. “I didn’t have a clear goal [of what to do next] when starting IY,” he said. So he asked God, “What part do I play in society?” And the answer he received was “Always depend on God and look at Him.”
Another Kasana son addressed the S4s, urging them to participate fully in IY next year. “Some people call it a dead year,” he said. “It is a test of your values, but it’s a test worth taking.” He explained that being in IY forces people to personalize their values, to take ownership of them. IY also helps students to experience what their dreams feel like, he said. It can be easy to have ideas of what they want to pursue, but the IY internships help them taste and see if they really want to pursue that.
This year’s IY program was facilitated by three main people: Robert Ayola, IY Coordinator; Steve Brown, IY Training Consultant; and Geoff Britton, Early Adulthood Coordinator. Each one also spoke a few words – words of appreciation for the past year and hopes for the future!
The heart of IY is producing young men and women who are not only God-fearing but also change agents in their area of society, Uncle Robert said.
Uncle Steve shared a story of one young man who’s start in IY this year didn’t seem very promising. But then Uncle Steve received a phone call from one of his internship supervisors who has hosted many IY students. The supervisor told Uncle Steve that this young man was the best IY intern yet!
He challenged the IY graduates to utilize and act on the skills and opportunities they have been given – including the great contacts some made through their internships.
Uncle Geoff encouraged the New Hope community to actively help IY flourish and to spread its vision around Uganda. He also urged next year’s class to enter the year expecting God to speak to them.
At the conclusion of the event came the ceremonial passing of the baton from IYs to S4s, and the parents and staff prayed over each group. Everything finished just before rain came, chasing everyone inside the guesthouse for the celebration meal.
Praise God with us for the transforming work He did in the lives of our sons and daughters through this year’s IY! Continue praying for these young men and women as they discuss and plan with their parents and our Early Adulthood staff about the next step of their journey.
Please also pray for the sons and daughters who will be taking part in IY next year! That they would have open hearts towards what God can teach them. And also for the staff as they continue investing in these young people!
Photos by Jill Pogmore and Esther Carey