Sam Roub spends his spring break in Africa and discovers his next step in travel and service


Senior Sam Roub didn’t spend this year’s recent spring break on a resort.

He didn’t relax on a beach or in the mountains; he didn’t post pictures online before white sand and a glittering sun.

Instead, Sam went to Uganda— not for leisure but for service.

“We went on a mission trip,” Sam said. “My mom works for Bethany Christians Services, [and] that’s an organization that helps refugees and foster kids and stuff like that. There’s this one guy, a refugee from Uganda, who wanted to do a mission trip [in Africa]. So he got a couple of people together, including my mom, and that’s how I got involved.”

The initial connection to his mom led to a meeting process that took several months, finally culminating to Sam’s much-anticipated spring break trip.

Sam first arrived in the capital, Kampala, for a one-night stay. However, the rest of the week-long trip was spent in a smaller village, known as Jinja.

“We were just staying in some of their cabins,” Sam said. “We would stay in a tiny little room, my mom and I. There’d be two beds and then a mosquito net over the bed and then a small bathroom [with] a shower just coming out of the wall— no actual shower.”

The accommodations were a few of the many aspects that factored into the culture shock the trip entailed, from the “insane” driving to a wholly different pattern of life.

“I was kind of scared doing things, worrying I was going to offend someone [by] doing something that’s acceptable here and not there,” Sam said. “There was another person with us who was from there who was helping us with it.”

Overall, a glimpse into a starkly contrasting world to that of Sam’s reality proved to be incredibly eye-opening and moving.

“It was definitely different,” Sam said. “I’d say it [was] life-changing, seeing how different people live. It’s definitely a reality check, being able to appreciate everything else you have here and just see how happy everyone is with literally nothing.”

As for the service itself, the team came to Uganda armed with one dentist and two nurses intending to collaborate with locals of their profession. And while Sam’s mom devoted her time to interviewing people to encourage American donators, Sam himself was tasked with simply looking after the children.

Sam remembers fondly the way the children clamored to see and touch him, idolizing him as a foreign mystery.

“We would go out into town, and we would go bring stuff back, and the kids would all be waiting there in a row,” Sam said. “They’d open the door and be like ‘Mzungu! Mzungu,’ which means white person. So they were all crazy about it, and they’d all come up and pull my arm. That was something.”

In general, Sam spent much of his trip with the local children, establishing close bonds in the process.

“I kind of felt like a big brother to them with them being so excited to see me,” Sam said. “It felt really good.”

Indeed, Sam’s spring break was certainly the ideal vacation of him, combining both his love for service with travel. In fact, this year was not Sam’s first experience with mission trips. Over the summer, Sam went to Peru for another mission trip, where he and his team helped local women begin their own businesses.

Thus, Sam recognizes Peru as instigating his “itch to travel.” With graduation approaching swiftly, Sam’s determination to devote himself to service and travel has led to rather unique plans for after high school.

“I really like helping people,” Sam said. “When I graduate, I’m actually going to the AmeriCorps. I’m going to be shipped out to California for training for six months. So it’s kind of like boot camp but chill boot camp. And then from there, they’re going to station me in Hawaii, Alaska, California, etc. I’m going to be somewhere where disaster is common, so I’m going to be helping with disaster cleanup.”

Sam looks on to the next chapter with excitement. His stint with AmeriCorps will last two years, after which he plans to continue on with a similar program or move on to the military. No matter where life takes him, however, he hopes to continually seek service.

“Like I said, I love helping people,” Sam said. “I have so much; just being able to give to someone who has so little is amazing.”