When her high school classmates were going to prom and collecting their diplomas, Angie Hong was volunteering in Uganda.
The 2012 Towson University graduate recently came back from her second trip there, and she’s getting ready for a whole new adventure—this time traveling to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps.
Her recent four-month stint in Uganda with the nonprofit Better Understanding of Life in Africa came about after her Peace Corps tour was delayed. Hong, whose degree is in philosophy, was working at TU at the time as the interim coordinator of civic engagement. Her former boss, BULA founder Melissa Fricke, suggested that Hong go back to Africa.
“[Hong is] probably the most spirited young person I’ve ever known,” Fricke said. “Her energy is just never-ending and it just renews everyone else’s energy around her.”
In Uganda, Hong took guardianship of 24 underprivileged children in Kampala and worked with officials to track down the children’s families and villages. She felt a personal connection to them, having lived with a group of children during her first visit. She still keeps in touch with most of them.
“Being more aware is good,” Hong said. “And knowing (the culture) can help you be of more service to other people in the country.”
BULA is now sending the 24 children to boarding school, but Hong said the adjustment from the home to their villages has been difficult. “It’s hard going back to the village when you’ve had nice things and volunteers would give you nice things.”
Fricke said she was “a little bit nervous” about Hong’s first trip at 17, but “as soon as she came over, I was floored by her maturity and her excitement for what she’s doing. I know she’s going to go on to do amazing things.”
Hong leaves for Nicaragua on March 4, and will work with the Peace Corps on health promotion efforts. She said she’s wanted to join the Peace Corps since she was in ninth grade. There is a new language barrier to contend with, but she’s working on her Spanish and taking an intensive course offered by the Peace Corps. Instead of being tasked with 24 students, as she was in Uganda, she will have help.
“For some reason, I think it’s easier than what I just did,” she said. “I think I’ll have more support.”