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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Spring Break in Uganda


The application period for the March 2023 spring break trip has closed. The application for March 2024 will become available in September of 2023.


The Trip

The spring break trip is one aspect of our project assisting the Ugandan Judiciary with the implementation of plea bargaining in their criminal justice system. This 10-day experience is guaranteed exhausting, emotional, challenging, and the best trip of your life. Students have the opportunity to handle real cases, interview accused persons, and negotiate a plea agreement on their behalf. Not only is it a practical application of skills learned in law school, but it's also another critical step in the transformation of an entire justice system. We hope students passionate about International Human Rights will join this trip and gain invaluable resources and tools from the experience to carry forward in their legal careers.


Our Approach

We seek to serve the needs of developing countries where invitations have graciously been extended. We approach every relationship and project as a long-term investment paired with the goal of working ourselves out of job. Our purpose is to help nations' top leaders implement structural changes to their judicial process in order to secure greater access to justice for citizens. We are incredibly mindful of our position as affluent Americans and the stigma that brings when we work in the prisons. We hope to train our teams so that we are always operating with the utmost respect and caution alongside our Ugandan partners.



The spring break trip usually consists of 10-15 students and occurs around the second week of March (spring break dates). We typically leave a few days prior to the break in order to maximize time and return the Sunday prior to classes. The subsidized cost of the trip for students is $1,800 paid to Pepperdine. In addition to that, students are responsible for medications, vaccinations, and visas needed for travel. This trip is led by the entire Global Justice Team: Danny DeWalt, Cameron McCollum, Jenna DeWalt, and our on-ground country director Scott Leist. In addition to our team and students, we invite attorneys to join us to help lead teams on plea bargaining during the prison project. 


Application Process


Applications are usually open in the month of September for about 4 weeks. The application link above will become active as soon as it opens. Once the application timeframe closes, a member of the SGJI team will be in touch to schedule an interview.


Applicants can expect to interview with the Director and Associate Director of the Institute. Interviews are typically about 20 minutes long. Due to the fact that you submit your resume along with your application, there is no need to bring any documents with you to the interview. We do expect students to treat the interview process as if it were a real job opportunity for two reasons: 1. It's one more opportunity to practice those skills while in law school, and 2. The spring break positions are competitive and we want to see you at your best!



  • Completed at least one year of legal education
  • Exhibits a passion for global justice and human rights
  • International travel experience preferred, but not required
  • Diplomacy: Must be able to navigate complex relationships and interests
  • Core Competencies: Humility, Integrity, Loyalty, Joyfulness, Teamwork, Initiative, Creativity, Timeliness, Professionalism, Flexibility
  • Grades will be considered as part of the application process. If grades are below a 3.0 GPA, your application may not be considered. You may pursue an appeal, and to do so, you must submit a one-page memo to our team explaining why you believe you should be considered despite not meeting the GPA requirement.
  • Pepperdine law students will receive priority - law students from other universities may apply, but positions are subject to availability once all Pepperdine applicants have been considered and selected.


Students are ineligible:

  • If at any time their GPA is below a 3.0
  • If they are placed on disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion
  • If they have a conflict with the MPRE
  • If they fail to obtain a valid passport and visa (if required) to attend a program
  • If they fail to participate in all required briefings and mandatory orientation sessions

Make Your Decision

Parents + Loved Ones

It's not unusual to be a concerned parent or loved one, we believe that's a healthy role to play. Before making this decision we recommend students notify family and friends of this opportunity and have any essential conversations prior to engaging in the application process. We are more than happy to connect directly with anyone that has questions or concerns. We prefer to have conversations with parents or loved ones with their student present.


Once an offer email has been received and there is a readiness to commit, click the button below to complete the contract. Official commitment to the program is the submission of this completed contract. 


Sample Itinerary

Thursday:     Depart LAX around 10am

Friday:          Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda at 10:25pm

Saturday:      Morning for exchanging cash, craft market, lunch | Afternoon for prison project training

Sunday:        Depart Kampala for first prison location | Evening prison project training and case review

Monday:       Prison Project - Day 1

Tuesday:       Prison Project - Day 2

Wednesday:  Prison Project - Day 3

Thursday:     Prison Project - Day 4

Friday:          Travel to nearby safari park | Afternoon safari boat cruise

Saturday:      Early morning safari game drive | Mid-day departure for airport | 11:30pm Departure from Entebbe

Sunday:        Arrive in Los Angeles around 12pm

*Not a single spring break trip has had the same itinerary. All plans are subject to change due to the locations, number of prisons, and requested trainings by the Ugandan government. However, this sample should provide a decent snapshot of what to expect. 


You're In!

If you have been selected to participate and have committed to the program, this section is for you! This information purely serves as a reference page as we will also be walking you through this information in detail during several in-person meetings prior to March.


Congratulations on this exciting adventure! At this point we hope to have communicated that this is not a spring break in Mexico at the Four Seasons. This is not a week with access to perfect wifi, glamorous instagramming, and culinary delight (although, maybe some culinary surprises!). This trip is so culturally different that loosely holding any expectations is the best approach heading into it.  But, we can confidently say that it will be one of the most fantastic and rewarding experiences you can engage in.

We have spent more than a decade developing strategic and world-changing partnerships with the goal of making access to justice a reality across the developing world. It is through these partnerships that we are able to engage our students in our work. With that said, you who are accepted into the program become ambassadors for Pepperdine. As such, you have an incredibly important role to play in maintaining and building those relationships with our partners.


As previously mentioned, the subsidized cost of the trip for students is $1,800. The cost includes flights, accommodations, ground transportation, meals (excluding special drinks), and group excursions. It does not include the $50 visa, any personal shopping, or vaccinations/medications required for travel.

We often recommend students bring about $250-$350 in cash for the trip, along with a reliable credit card. This cash is for the $50 visa which is purchased upon arrival in Uganda as well as for any personal shopping, snacks, coffee, or gifts students might want to purchase.

Finances should never come in the way of a student being able to participate. If $1,800 is a sincere challenge for you, please reach out to our program staff so we can find a solution.


Our hope is that every single participant feels healthy and strong abroad. The reality is that many of these places knock us off our feet regardless of precautions. But, this can be mitigated!

First Priority

The CDC provides all of the information regarding what vaccinations and medications are needed to travel abroad. The first priority is to go to their website and learn about the vaccinations that are necessary for the country being traveled to. We will help guide students through this process during the pre-departure meetings. For some placements, the CDC has listed "recommended" vaccinations that might not be essential depending on the internship location and they can be expensive. We want to ensure students have all necessary information to make an informed decision.

Why the rush? Some vaccinations require six weeks to provide adequate protection before landing in country.

Travel Clinics

Our students have found several different clinics that provide some or all vaccinations and medications for their summer abroad. These are a few that have been recommended:

Costco does not have the Yellow Fever vaccination. They work with most major insurance companies. I recommend giving your local Costco a call to see what they offer, if they take your insurance, and if you need a costco card.

Passport Health
Passport health carries all of the vaccinations necessary and they have the ability to prescribe the malaria medication. Important to call and see if they will take your insurance and what their prices will be.

Wellness Mart, Thousand Oaks
Reasonable prices, will have most vaccinations

Healthy Traveler Clinic, Pasadena
Has the yellow fever vaccination (or will have the alternative, Stamaril).

Pepperdine University
They have a Travel Medicine program. It's unclear how robust it is and how it works with insurance.

Prescription Medications

If you have pre-existing medical problems you should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications you carry overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Some U.S. prescription medications are illegal in foreign countries and may subject you to arrest. We strongly encourage students to contact International SOS (free service) at 1-215-942-8226 to discuss the countries you are visiting or transiting en-route to make sure your medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics in that country.

Healthcare Abroad

Healthcare in Uganda is not the same as the states. However, we are aware of several locations that are safe and reliable to tend to any member of our team. We have never had reason for a member of our team to seek special medical attention, but we are prepared in the event it is necessary. 

Common Sense

We want to give a few thoughts about how you can personally mitigate the potential of unpleasant health issues that arise from food, water, travel, etc.

  • Drink bottled water only. Ensure the bottle cap is secure when opened for the first time. Sometimes vendors will refill water bottles and it's easy to identify if your cap is not secure. You might be able to purchase large tanks of filtered water for your apartment - those are okay.
  • Consider skipping the ice. If you order a smoothie and it has crushed ice in it, you don't know if that water was filtered. Or if you order a cold drink and ask for ice, you don't know if that ice was originally filtered water, it likely was not.
  • Be careful about raw fruits and vegetables that are unprotected. Bananas, oranges, papaya, and pineapple all have hard shells around them protecting the fruit. Apples, carrots, and lettuce are all unprotected and can carry bacteria on themselves or on the water they were washed in. If you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables, wash them yourself in bottled or purified water when you are at home and peel them if it makes sense. Better yet, cook all the raw vegetables you want to eat.
  • Do not eat most street food. Especially meat. There might be some street vendors that make fresh food in front of you, that's a safer option. Here are a few reasons why not to eat ready-made street meat:
    • You don't actually know what kind of meat it is: Chicken or Beef? Dog or Pork? Something else you didn't know existed? Maybe. You ask for chicken and they hand you the stick of meat in their hand. You ask for beef and they hand you the same stick of meat in their hand.
    • You don't know when the animal was killed.
    • You don't know how long the meat has been sitting in the sun.
    • There are plenty of ways to get great meat in a safe way. Don't unleash the wrath of your stomach for the sake of street meat.
  • Proactively Staying Healthy: quality sleep, quality food, water, and vitamin D.



All students participating in the summer program are required to have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months past the return date of the trip. It's the student's responsibility to obtain or renew their passport.

Information on local U.S. passport agencies, requirements, and fees is available on the U.S. State department website. Students should contact the SGJI team if they have questions about obtaining a valid passport.

Processing times vary, but to be safe, you should submit your application for a new passport within six weeks of travel. If your country also requires a pre-approved visa, you may need to start this process earlier.


Visas are needed for the trip. We will complete the online visa application together during a team meeting.

Travel Safety

Student safety is a top priority for all SGJI International Programs. 

Traveling in another country can be a rich and rewarding experience, and the odds are very much in your favor for an incident-free trip. You can increase your chances of avoiding problems by developing awareness and by careful planning.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Use common sense to protect your valuables. Don't wear expensive jewelry. Keep vital documents out of view. Don't carry more cash than you can afford to lose and place it on various locations on your person. Keep a list of your credit card numbers and customer service numbers reachable from your host country in your emergency envelope in order to report them if lost or stolen. When traveling, always keep valuable possessions within view if you can't hold on to them.
  • Take a low-key approach. Avoid loud conversations or arguments and attempt to blend in with your surroundings. In most countries, it is very poor taste to be boisterous in public. Avoid clothing that calls attention.
  • Pickpockets normally operate in crowded places like public transportation facilities, spectator events, etc. Never carry valuables in a back pocket or carry your purse behind your back. Some pickpockets will resort to cutting a tightly held purse in order to gain access to its contents. In case of theft or loss of any valuables, report it to the local authorities. The report might be necessary for coverage under your insurance policy. Please inform the country director as well.
  • Learn about local laws and rules, and obey them. Your consulate or embassy has limited ability to protect you if you break the laws of the foreign country you are visiting. This is especially true in regard to drug laws, which are more rigidly enforced in some countries compared to the U.S.
  • Should you find yourself in any legal difficulty, contact your country director and your consulate or embassy immediately.

Learn to Fly

Students are not responsible for booking their own flights. Our team will collect your basic information and book your flight on your behalf. We often fly Delta/KLM. If you happen to take part in their rewards program, you may also provide your Skymiles number. 

Flight Tips

Our team flies internationally several times a year and has been doing so for many years. We've pulled together some of our best advice for making it a great experience!

  • Pick your seats if you can. Whether you're a window sleeper or an aisle stretcher, select your seats on every leg of your flight so you can be as comfortable as possible. Once the SGJI team has booked your flight, you may go into your reservation and select or pay for preferred seats.
  • Arrive early. Traveling internationally brings its own unique challenges. Arriving early will mitigate the stress of any unexpected traffic or security lines. During your layovers, be cognizant of your next flight and the time it will take to get to your next gate. Some airports have extensive security and mile-long walks.
  • Drink water. It's easy to get dehydrated and swollen while traveling. Not only will it keep you from cankles, it will also keep you feeling good!
  • Dress in layers. Planes are notoriously hot or freezing. Control your body temperature by dressing in layers. It's not fun to be on a couple of 10+ hour flights trying to sleep in an iceberg or sauna. Also be aware of the fact that you will be stepping off of the plane into your host country in that attire. For ladies, long pants and a short sleeved shirt would be the minimum coverage recommended for several reasons. More details in our pre-departure meetings.
  • Pack snacks. While airplane food can have some occasional surprises they aren't known for their cuisine. Pack a few granola bars, fresh or dried fruit, and nuts to keep you well nourished without the massive salt content of an airplane meal.
  • Keep your valuables in your carry-on bag - medication, laptop, camera, etc.
  • Be aware of theft on the airplane - this is unlikely to happen, but it's a good reminder that if you have a nice pair of headphones or your phone sitting out when you fall asleep, it's easy for someone to snag it while walking by. Put your things away if you plan to sleep.
  • Toiletries. It's so nice to brush your teeth, reapply deodorant, or wash your face while traveling. Pack a few of these items so you can travel fresh!
  • Bring a change of clothes in your carry-on in the event your luggage is lost or delayed.

Top four comforts for sleeping:

  1. Eye mask - maybe silly, but a game changer for getting good sleep on a plane
  2. Ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones
  3. Neck pillow - recommend the TRTL travel pillow
  4. Fresh socks - it's more comfortable to take your shoes off when you're ready to snooze, but not great to have really thin socks or no socks at all. Fresh thick socks can add an extra bit of comfort while flying.

Going through immigration may require certain information such as a housing address, in-country contact person name, phone, email, etc. Having this basic information with you upon arrival to your country will help with any immigration forms to fill out.


Our team will be flying and arriving together. Once we land, we will immediately go through immigration, which includes the process of purchasing the visa. Then we will collect our bags and when we are all set, we will go outside and a few judiciary drivers with buses will take us to our hotel. It's important to note that everything is a little bit slower and may take time. If we expect to land in Uganda around 10:30pm, you might expect to make it to your hotel bed by around 2:00am. From the airport we have about a 1-hour drive to our hotel in Kampala.

Emergency Envelope

Our student interns that go abroad for 9 weeks are required to carry this envelope. Due to the fact that we are all traveling together for only 1 week, we are not requiring our spring break crew to carry these documents, however, it is still recommended that you do so. At the very minimum, please have a photocopy of your passport in the event it is stolen. 

  • Photocopy of the identification page of your passport. In case your passport should be lost or stolen, this will speed up the replacement process considerably.
  • Health history memo. If you have important medical information that someone might need to know in the event of a medical emergency, consider sharing a copy of this with the program director and keeping a copy in this envelope.
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate. In case your passport should be lost or stolen, this will also speed up the replacement process considerably.
  • Extra passport-sized photos. Four photos are required to speed up a replacement, if necessary. 
  • Medical prescriptions from your doctor and/or optometrist. Ask your doctor to write these out carefully and legibly so that a doctor, optician, or pharmacist abroad can identify it. Include the generic names of any medications.
  • A list of credit card numbers, dates of expiration, and non-800 or 888 numbers to report loss or theft. You will need this information to report lost or stolen cards. The overseas access numbers, which usually appear on the back of the cards, differ from 800 or 888 numbers, which are not accessible from overseas. If you do not have a non-800 or 888 number on your card, call your credit card company and ask for an international access number.
  • Names, phone numbers and addresses of two emergency contacts. The first number is in case something should happen to you; the second is in case of a natural disaster or other emergency in your hometown. Both you and your parents or guardians should be able to contact this person (who should live outside the geographic area of your parents) if there should be an emergency situation where your parents or guardians live.
Packing Tips
  • Types of Clothes: Business Professional for Prisons, Modest Tourism for Safari, Travel Layers for Flights, Hiking/Workout for free time (very limited)
  • Shoes: Flats, running shoes, travel shoes, sandals
  • Food: Bring some of your favorite snacks or treats that you might miss while you're abroad or might sound appealing if your stomach gets out of whack. 
  • Emergency Envelope: Keep an electronic version on your phone and laptop and keep a hard copy in your carry-on bag
  • Random Important Items: Adapter, raincoat, hygiene products


If you ware looking to gain an extra unit, this trip would qualify as 50 hours of legal work. 

If you decide to pursue units here's what to do:
Visit the Externship Checklist for Registration 


For the spring break trip, we recommend that students bring $250-$350 in cash (one $50 bill and two or three $100 bill - as new as you can get). We also recommend students travel with a credit card in the event of an emergency. You will want to remember to call your credit card company prior to flying to give them the dates and locations of travel as well as layovers so that when you go to use your card they won't flag it for fraud. 


Students should bring their laptops and cellular devices on the trip. Laptops will be used during the prison project and cell phones can be used on wifi at hotels. Please note that wifi is often not very reliable. Our team leadership will also carry wifi devices that students may borrow in the evenings for a call home or work they need to get done if the hotel wifi is not sufficient.


Your electronics could be an automatic target. Thankfully we aren't in very many locations where your electronics will be at risk. Nevertheless, here are some ways to keep them safe:

  • Do not walk with your phone in your hand or exposed in a pocket, secure it in a bag
  • Do not use your laptop or phone in a vehicle with the windows down (particularly in traffic)
  • Keep your laptop secured in a backpack while walking
  • Do not leave your electronics out in the open in your hotel room, always tuck them away or in a secure location
  • Do not leave your electronics unattended in public


The following are steps Pepperdine takes to safeguard the Pepperdine community abroad:

  • Conduct an international travel safety briefing at orientation
  • Update emergency plans and critical incident guides that cover a multitude of scenarios
  • Provide students access to a travel assistance program (International SOS) that provides students with select emergency assistance offerings

What students do to safeguard themselves:

  • Fully enroll in Pepperdine's ISOS system
  • For U.S. Passport holders: Required to enroll and log all travel in STEP (U.S. Department of State Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) which enables students and and emergency contacts to receive travel advisories and alerts
  • Follow safety guidelines given by Pepperdine, the US Department of State, and International SOS
  • Please note that Pepperdine does our due diligence in regards to community safety and cannot plan for or anticipate every emergency. We, like any other institution, cannot guarantee safety and do everything reasonable to safeguard community members.

International SOS

Pepperdine provides all Global Justice participants with an emergency travel assistance program through International SOS. All participants must enroll in this program in order to participate. International SOS provides the following types of support:

  • Health, safety, and travel advice
  • Cultural advice
  • Assistance with passport replacement
  • Medical assistance, including on-call doctors and nurses, referrals for medical care, and guarantee of payment for medical expenses
  • Emergency assistance

We encourage all students to contact International SOS during their pre-trip preparation process to discuss safety and health information. This is a free service. Some services are free to Pepperdine students and some services have an associated cost. Ask International SOS for details.

International SOS also offers free medical tele-consulting if using the International SOS Assistance App available in your smartphone's app store.
International SOS contact information: 1-215-942-8226

Emergency medical evacuation services
Emergency medical services in the location you are studying/traveling
Emergency document processing

My Trips Registration

The steps needed to use 'My Trips'

  • Create a user account if you already haven't used this service prior. Please do not forget your password, you will need it while abroad. Each user needs to create a user profile by entering his/her information at this exact link: https://mytrips.travelsecurity.com/Login.aspx?ci=IaAP8SCvPho%3d
  • Once you have created a user profile you can access MyTrips using the shorter website https://mytrips.travelsecurity.com
  • Create or edit your profile to match your upcoming abroad program
  • Create and modify travel plans
  • Once you have registered yourself, log all travel on your MyTrips account

Forget your password?: Because International SOS is an outside service, if you forget your password you will need to email onlinehelp@internationalsos.com from your Pepperdine email account and ask them to reset your password. Neither the Malibu IP Office nor your program staff is able reset your password for you. If you enter the wrong password too many times you will be locked out of your account, so be sure to remember or write down your password.

Safe Traveler Enrollment Program

Students must register for STEP through the U.S. Department of State
Register Here: https://step.state.gov/


Pepperdine does not pay for student travel insurance or health insurance. While ISOS is an excellent resource, it is not a health insurance policy. We recommend you check with your health insurance provider to determine what international coverage they provide and if not sufficient, consider purchasing additional international health insurance. Likewise, if you believe you might be taking on any kind of travel risk, you might consider travel insurance as well.