Click here to watch CulturePrep’s On Uganda volunteer and journalist Tawnya Rush’s video shot on location in Uganda during the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Using, USA Today readers submitted modern-day Martin Luther King Jr. speeches.  This version is by Larry Goanos of Doyelstown, PA.

I once made a speech about a dream of mine; my dream, your dream, our dream.  The American Dream.  That was long ago.  This nation has changed since then.  But the dream hasn’t.

I see a world where my children and your children and all the children of this great country are judged not on the color of your skin, but on the content of their character.

I see a world where it makes no difference whether you’re from the poorest barrio of Los Angeles or the largest penthouse of Manhattan; the rolling cornfields of Iowa or the bustling streets of Chicago.  It doesn’t matter if you grew up watching polo matches on the manicured lawns of Palm Beach or hauling lobster pots from the chilly waters of Maine.  You may be a soldier in Seattle or a trucker in Texas; a coal miner in Kentucky or a scientist is San Diego.  These things don’t matter in the America of my Dream.

I’ll tell you what else doesn’t matter: Where your parents were born, the color of your skin, what God you worship or don’t, what gender you are, or what sexual preference you hold.

The size of your bank account and the make of your car hold no sway.  The only thing that will matter when this majestic land of ours fulfills my Dream will be a person’s character, how hard he works, how honest he is, and what contribution an individual makes to our society.

A great president, John F. Kennedy, once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.” I take that a step further and beseech you to also ask what you can do for your countrymen.  And the answer is this:

Drop your prejudices.  Drop your hatred.  Drop your greed.  Drop your fear of those who are different.  This is a call to action for every American to move forward as one nation, one community, one brotherhood.

Hatred cused 9/11.  Hatred killed Harvey Milk.  Hatred killed James Byrd Jr.  Hatred killed Matthew Shepard.  The list is too long.

It is time, my brothers and sisters, to lay to rest all of our anger and hatred.  There is no 99% and there is no 1%; there is only America.  And in these difficult times, it needs your support 100%.

By Peter A. Vogel, CulturePrep Founder

A reality-check and poignant reminder about fortifying campus community came my way after leaving the customary debriefing session with a university client’s senior staff following the completion of a tense, month-long Campus Cross-Cultural Climate Assessment.

Still reeling with final data from the cross-cultural climate survey, historical attrition rates for students of color, and hauntingly clear memories of the face of a faculty member who shared her story of being an object of hate and intimidation – I departed the President’s Conference Room, and walked into a cold, snowy day.

I was soon warmly greeted by a group of students and faculty, who by outward appearance, represented a “mini United Nations” carrying grocery bags filled with box lunches.  Turns out they came together through their involvement in a campus service project to feed the homeless.

People, Diversity, Community – In Action.  Or as author, lecturer, and retreat leader Richard Rohr shares, “We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living, we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.”

“Reflections.” By Peter A. Vogel, CulturePrep Founder

Watching on TV the events of the inauguration unfold from my cabin in Colorado’s high-country, the hopes of American’s – of the world community – are equally high for improved cross-cultural relations.

Clearly, the election of President Barack Obama is both a step forward for America, and a catalyst for campuses and communities to engage in dialogues about what unites us and what divides us.

The time is ripe for offering forums – safe places – for campuses and communities to engage in a deeper connection between diverse groups of people. A chance to expose the obstacles to building authentic relationships. A chance to offer a counterbalance to the forces that perpetuate intolerance, aggression, and violence. A chance to affirm diversity-friendly people and places.


CulturePrep’s Peter Vogel and NBC Denver Channel 9’s Tawnya Rush serving CultureCakes at Ten Thousand Villages

By Frank Mubiru, CulturePrep/On Uganda partner in Uganda

October in Uganda, is one of the rainy months of the year and everywhere you go, you get an immediate sense of what it means to live by the labor of one’s hand. People are always in a hurry and try to do everything as quickly as they can. Usually, they are not hurrying to avoid the rain, but rather to go to their gardens and dig up the ground or sow as much as they can before the next downpour. The ground is covered by deep green natural growth.

Unlike in the developed countries where farmers use tractor to work the land, in places like Uganda, most farmers (or call them peasants) till the land by hand and hoe. They sow seeds and seedlings such as corn and potatoes by hand and foot. It is hard work. But it is work that they look forward to when the rains come.

The rain comes and everything grinds to a halt – including public transport. The most common means of transport are a motor-cycle taxi which carries up to three passengers and a mini-bus or van that carries about a dozen people. Every shelter is swarmed by people trying to stay away from the rain.

Unfortunately, in Masese, only a tiny proportion of the residents have anywhere to dig at all. They live in tiny shelters made of mud and wattle, roofed with scrap iron sheets, or plastic sheets, or simply, dry long grass and reeds.

For these people, rain is not welcome.

It makes their living quarters a squalid mess. In some cases, the roofing leaks and the inhabitants have to put a bucket on the mud floor to trap the water while they hurdle into one of the dry corners of their house. These dwellings moreover, are usually rented from the slum landlords at about US 4 dollars per month.

What caused all this in the first place?

Masese is a suburb of Jinja town. Jinja, many years ago, used to be the industrial and manufacturing town of Uganda. It attracted skilled and unskilled workers from around the country. However, during the turbulent political times of 1971 – 1986, most factories closed, leaving behind hordes of jobless “migrant” workers. Most never returned to their original homes.

This environment is where His Everlasting Love Prevails, Uganda (H.E.L.P) is focusing their intervention and change the way the young people here perceive life.

H.E.L.P among other things, wants to bring hope to this despairing population by giving them the opportunity to be equipped with life skills such as dress-making, brick-laying, hair-dressing, cooking and baking, computer use, woodwork and carpentry, small engine repairs, etc, that can enable them earn a living and change their lives for the better. Our approach is: do not just give them fish to eat. Teach them to fish what to eat.


By Gerard A. Cox, Associate Professor in the School of Liberal Arts, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Retired in 2001 as an executive administrator after spending ten years as an associate academic dean (1969-1979) and then twenty-two years (1979-2001) as the college’s chief student affairs officer

It’s never too late. It’s true. We often try to convince ourselves that nothing will change. Not so. As sure as the seasons glide from one to another, change occurs on a regular basis. As an old acquaintance used to say, “Just wait. Change is coming ‘round the corner.” Sure, we can see ourselves in seasonal changes, but there are more dynamic changes waiting to happen all the time. The other day I came across a “tip sheet” on the Internet. I wasn’t looking for it. It was just there. Written by CulturePrep’s Peter A. Vogel, it seemed to be awaiting my attention. It was both short and had the nerve to boast, “10 Ways to Get Started Establishing a Diversity-Friendly Environment.” I couldn’t resist the challenge to read it. What appealed most to me was it began by hitting me between the eyes. Vogel wasted no time in telling me that change begins with me. To start I need to “conduct a personal cross-cultural inventory” of my own prejudice, intolerance and assumptions. This also includes admitting to cross-cultural skeletons hanging out in my closet. Don’t just point your finger at them he advises. Resolve to bring about change. Get rid of them. Change will not come until I can forgive others and myself for harmful attitudes and behaviors. Trying to make these changes is rough. “Habits never give up without a fight.” But I need to move on. Progress will come from continual cross-cultural assessment of personal behavior and thinking. Leave the past. Concentrate on how I think and act in the present and how my future is different because of the ways in which I change my disposition. Together with colleagues I should encourage activities within our community, especially with students that help to bring about interaction with people of difference. It will take time. Change will come, if I persist in facilitating intentional change. If I have the courage, I’ll ask a valued other (friend, spouse, or colleague) to help me monitor my attitudes and behaviors over time. I’ll ask that valued other to hold me accountable for what I say and do to help trod underfoot the vestiges of greener days.

There are things “the workplace” (college or corporation) can do to help create a diversity-friendly environment of each of us. But, as significant as such activities are (an internal oversight committee, ongoing assessments and evaluations, recognition for individuals and departments for achieving cross-cultural objectives) real change begins with me. How I change will ultimately help define the working community of which I am part. Ah, yes, John Donne, “No man is an island.” Thank you for always being there to remind me. We are indeed all a part of the mainland, a fact for which I’m grateful.

Putting muscle behind giving: From delinquent to champion bodybuilder to humanitarian, Joe Petrovic has made a powerful journey

  Kids from the village of Masese, a slum in Uganda, crowd Clear Creek residents Peter Vogel and Joe Petrovic in hopes of snatching half a gummy bear. 

By Adriennne Anderson
Editor, Clear Creek Courant
Wednesday, September 24 2008

With a gentle smile and a commanding build, 19-year-old champion bodybuilder Joe Petrovic stands out — in Clear Creek County or in Africa. 

After being arrested at age 13 for vandalism, Petrovic, a graduate of Clear Creek High School, has spent the last six years dedicating his life to Christ and helping others. With the help of mentor Peter Vogel, Petrovic is now a champion bodybuilder, a scholarship recipient and a recent humanitarian in Africa. He spent 10 days in the Jinja region of Uganda helping to stock a school with computers with the On Uganda charity.
“It was a whole other world,” Petrovic said. “I just saw a lot of poverty right away, and it was a culture shock.”

On Uganda was formed after Peter Vogel, a Clear Creek resident and the founder of the business Culture Prep, delivered the 1999 keynote address on the topic of unity and hope to 10,000 people at the largest youth rally ever held in Uganda. He and others have returned to Uganda each subsequent year to build friendships and to provide funding for small-business development.

In the slums of Masese, a Ugandan village, there is more homemade moonshine than drinkable water and more brothels than schools. Vogel has been trying to fund and build a vocational school in the village, where kids attend school only until age 12. 

“We are trying to build cross-cultural relations between Christians and Muslims and teach usable skills such as carpentry and sewing and computer skills,” Vogel said.

Beyond raising $3,500 for his trip to Uganda, Petrovic also taught himself a little Arabic to communicate with the Muslim youths his age.

The two visited a mosque and shared a meal of “culture cakes,” a high-protein, low-sugar pancake, with the members. Petrovic was able to communicate with one teen his age.

“He told me he went to school until he was 12 and that he wanted to go to a university,” Petrovic said. “It was just really sad, because I have all these opportunities, but he’ll really never have the opportunity to do what I do. It’s not really fair.” 

At one point, Petrovic and Vogel handed out gummy bears to the village kids. “We literally had to rip them in half; they swarmed us,” Petrovic said. “It was kind of scary.” Vogel said next time they will bring something other than gummy bears, maybe the culture cakes. “They don’t know what candy is,” Vogel said. “It wasn’t excitement; it was hunger.”

Petrovic was 13 years old when he started breaking car windows. After being arrested, he went to Kansas to live with other family members and put his life back together. 

Now he is guided by his faith and wants to dedicate his life to helping others.

“But it’s not like we are preaching the gospel,” Petrovic said. “If anything, they were trying to convert me.”
Since Petrovic returned from Kansas as a young boy, he has spent most of the last six years learning how to be a young man. He took home two trophies at the 2007 state bodybuilding competition in Denver, received the Metro Mayor’s Award, which earned him a one-year scholarship to school, and has been featured on Channel 9. 

He is enrolled at Red Rocks Community College this year and eventually would like to join the intelligence community. He plans to continue to learn Arabic and travel to Africa. 

“Joe is a man of deep faith and selflessness, work ethic and integrity,” Vogel said. 

Several images remain etched in Joe’s memory from his recent trip, one in particular: There is mansion with a big brick barricade surrounding acres of land. A gate with steel bars guards the entrance. Three or four kids from the poverty-stricken village are peering in at a group of wealthy white people gathered for a party. A trampoline is in the distance, and a Range Rover is in the driveway. 

The image is a study in contrasts — much like Petrovic himself. Despite Petrovic’s large physique, it’s his big heart that leaves the lasting impression.