An associate professor at Reed College said "there's both a gentleness and a fierceness to life" in East Africa. 

"When you greet someone you ask them how they are, and the answer is 'important'," said Reed biologist Sarah Schaack during a Skype interview from a hostel in Uganda. It's one of her favorite aspects of the culture.

Schaack is in East Africa teaching bioinformatics and sequencing the DNA of a pest that frequently devastates the region's staple crops. She hopes to empower African scientists to combat the pest that harms the regions health and economy.

She's not the only Portlander with a heart for Africa. We invited readers to share stories about their experiences or highlight the service they've done on the continent.

From Kailey Gramberg, The School of St Jude: 

I first traveled to Tanzania in 2012. I immediately fell in love with the warmth and generosity of people and the vibrancy of the culture -- the music, the dance, the language, the fabric -- everything is just so alive here! I love that it takes five minutes to go through all the proper greetings with someone. The pace of life is much slower and  I’m constantly reminded to slow down and be present.