SGA President hosts Pepperdine law professor

Pictured: SGA President Hunter Doucette (left) and lawyer Jim Gash (right).

Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

“I found myself, in the summer of 2008, standing on the southern coast of Europe, looking at the northern coast of Africa, and my oldest daughter says, ‘Daddy, are we ever going to Africa?’  And I said, ‘I have no plans to go to Africa.’”

Jim Gash said it himself; he never planned on going to Africa, so it’s easily ironic since he is finalizing a duel citizenship between the United States and Uganda. 

Friday night, students and faculty piled into Bailey Business Center to listen to Professor of Law and Director of Global Justice Program, Jim Gash speak.

The event was hosted by SGA President, Hunter Doucette, who came across Gash’s story and knew he wanted OBU students to hear it too.

“I was reading ‘Love Does’ by Bob Goff and after reading the bit on his visits to Uganda, working with a team of American lawyers and Pepperdine law students on backlogged cases, I wanted to find out more about that specific project since I am interested in law,” Doucette said. “While researching the project, I came across an article about Jim Gash and his story in Uganda. I felt he was the type of person and his story was unique so that we as students would be inspired and approach whatever career path we choose with a new perspective.”

The event began at 4 p.m., where Gash went into depth about his personal experiences in Uganda, working with juveniles and adults, to help get their cases heard in court.  One young man, Hillary ‘Henry’ Tumwesige, was the focal point of the evening.

“[Henry] lived in a one-room prison for several years, with wretched conditions, for a crime he was not guilty of,” Doucette said. “His mother frequently visited him and told him, ‘Nothing is eternal except for the word of God… And God uses horrible things sometimes to do good.’ We have all heard this before, but when you hear about someone in the situation Henry was in, actually believe those words and know God is in control the entire time, it is quite powerful.”

At 7 p.m., students were given a closer look into Henry and Jim’s story, with a screening of the documentary “Remand.”  The film follows Jim, Henry and Pepperdine law students who travel to Uganda.

The real treat of the evening though, was the opportunity students had to Skype and talk with Henry in Uganda.

Training to be a doctor, Henry has rebuilt his life and eagerly spoke on how he hopes to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Henry participated in a Skype call with OBU students, telling them about his life experience. / The Bison

“I would tell myself, ‘if I’m really released, I will go, work hard, become a doctor and I will provide services to those in need,’” Henry said.  “That’s why I want to become a doctor.”

To go from a boy who needed saving, to the one saving others, Henry’s stories are  inspiring. 

“I think this event was an excellent reminder for students to look out for those less fortunate or those with no opportunity,” Doucette said.

“Gash constantly reminded us that our story doesn’t have to be like his… We don’t have to travel halfway around the world, or even be in the legal field, to make a difference.”

The Pepperdine law students in the film, at one point, confessed the disparity they felt when seeing how much needed to be done. That disparity though, can be solved with a little dose of perspective, as Jim reminded students of a story that shows how helping even one person is enough.

“There’s a man walking along the beach and he sees, off in the distance, a figure standing up and bending back down and standing up and bending back down,” Gash said.

“And as he walks up, he sees it’s a young boy and the boy’s picking up starfish and throwing them, one at a time, back into the ocean. And the man says to the boy, ‘what are you doing?’ And the boy says, ‘the sun is up and the tide is out and there’s starfish stranded here and they’re going to die unless I throw them back into the water.’ Man looks at the boy and says, ‘there’s starfish as far as the eye can see. How can you possibly make a difference?’ And the boy bent over, picks one up, throws it in there and looks at the man and says, ‘I made a difference for that one didn’t I?’”

‘I made a difference for that one didn’t I?’”

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