LeAnne Taylor, News On 6
ADA, Oklahoma -- Earlier this year, a group of Oklahomans traveled to Africa for a humanitarian mission trip to Uganda.
During the Pros for Africa trip, two young men from Africa really stood out, showing great character and integrity. Richard and Charles helped load luggage and serve as guides during the trip.
When ECU President John Hargrave lost luggage and the men were committed to help to retrieve it, Hargrave wanted to show his appreciation and offered the men the chance to attend college in Ada.
They jumped at the chance and after filling out paper work and interviewing with the scholarship committee; both men are now attending school at East Central University.
Richard Kirabira and Charles Mugabi are new students on campus. Unlike most of the kids at ECU, these two young men have travelled from Uganda to study but like most students, leaving home has been hard especially on mom.
"She cries. She cried when she was escorting me to the airport. Wow, my son, I don't know if I should be happy for this but she is excited to see that I'm able to get a good education in the U.S.," said Charles Mugabi.
"Back home, people are laid back. Here things are fast. People try to chase time and the other thing at home we are more community based and here people are more one and one so that's a big deal trying to fit in and adjust but all and all, people are nice here," said Richard Kirabira.
It has been an adjustment for the guys.
In fact, Richard's visa was delayed so he wasn't able to get here until after school started but he's been able to catch up quickly.
Both young men are in the grad program at ECU.
They'll spend the next three years earning their master's degree.
They join 117 international students from 30 different countries.
"It's a whole mix of people from Japan, people from Russia, people from Germany, people from Jamaica so we're learning from all these people. It kind of presents a culture shock but there are allot of lessons to learn how to live with other people who are not necessarily from your country," said Charles Mugabi.
"LeAnne, you know these men are men of integrity, you saw that in Uganda. Both of them were interviewed before we offered these scholarships and both of them assured us their only goal in life is to use the education they get here at ECU here in the United States, and take that knowledge back to Uganda and make Uganda a better place and that impressed our committee in awarding these scholarships," John Hargrave, ECU president said.
"I'm looking at using the skills I'm gaining here to see that I serve my community back home. There's a lot of things I'm learning here which is lacking back home so I'll be the ambassador back home so it's a great opportunity for me," said Richard Kirabira.
A great opportunity both young men never imagined would come their way. The men won't go back home until the end of the school year, but they do have people in Ada looking after them during all the holidays.