Soon-to-Be Grad Will Move to Africa, Help Unify a Community through Art

After graduating from UT on Saturday, Olivia Bradley will fly 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and drive six hours through Uganda to start her career in a small East African town.

Bradley—who participated in the Gulu Study and Service Abroad Program last summer—is returning to work at TAKS Art Centre, the same agency where she interned for six weeks during the study abroad trip.

“TAKS is a beautiful center, and it’s just not being used to its full potential,” said Bradley. “My goal is to get the community more involved with the facility.”

Olivia Bradley

Olivia Bradley, center back, surrounded by the staff of the TAKS Art Centre.

Bradley will be the programming director at the center, which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on drawing the community together through art and culture. TAKS Centre founder David Odwar asked Bradley to return to Gulu for a year after graduating to work. Her mission will be to develop new programming ideas for the center, which is used for a variety of activities including boxing, competitive dancing, and art.

Professor Rosalind Hackett, who works with the GSSAP program, said Olivia’s desire to help the center and the Gulu people was clear from the start.

“Olivia was excited about her internship posting long before she even got to Uganda,” said Professor Rosalind Hackett, who works with the GSSAP program. “On arrival she threw herself into all the activities at TAKS Art Centre, whether break dancing with the youth group, organizing a film night for local filmmakers, selling fish at the market, or doing community outreach with the boxing team.”

Bradley said she hopes to implement several programs once she’s back at the center, including free yoga classes, tutoring services, and workshops led by local artists. She is partnering with a University of Oxford student she met during her internship with TAKS, who will work with Bradley to establish an internship program at the center.

“I want to encourage Ugandan people to rely on each other instead of relying on outside or Western organizations,” said Bradley. “I met a lot of talented, driven people there, and I have full confidence that they’ll be able to take TAKS to the next level.”

Bradley is a psychology and religious studies major at UT. After her time as programming director for TAKS, she wants to come back to the United States to go to law school and specialize in human rights law.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)