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Friday, October 03, 2008

TweetThis! Ernest Makulilo's journey from Tanzania to Marshall Univ

Ernest, I wish you success and may you achieve more in your quest for more knowledge.
Media Credit: Photos courtesy of Ernest Makulilo Ernest Makulilo, 27, would spend many hours on the Internet, using a friends laptop to research and apply for scholarships so he could one day travel the world. He is now a professor of Global Connections: Discover Africa at Marshall University.

Ernest Makulilo never dreamed he would be celebrating his 27th birthday in a foreign country - America.
Makulilo is the U.S. Fulbright Foreign Language Visiting Scholar who teaches Global Connections: Discover Africa at Marshall University.

Discover Africa at Marshall University.Makulilo’s journey from his home in Tanzania to Marshall was not a simple one. It began when he was finishing the second year of his 3-year program at the University of Tanzania, majoring in political science with a minor in language. Makulilo was studying to become a lecturer at the university. That year he became an intern with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. His adviser was a 25-year-old woman from the Netherlands, and her experiences working in Iraq and Afganistan impressed Makulilo, and he decided to search for scholarships.

Borrowing his friend’s laptop, Makulilo would get up at 6 a.m. every Saturday and visit the wireless access points in his university.

“I would use the Internet for almost eight hours,” Makulilo said. “I was not eating, drinking, whatever. And I promised myself every Saturday that I have to get one scholarship information.”
Makulilo’s plan was to go abroad as soon as he graduated. At the time, coming to the United States was not an option for him because securing an American visa was difficult. He was required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), both of which were expensive.

One day while Makulilo was on the Internet hunting for scholarships, he saw an ad for the Fulbright program. He was immediately wary.

“In Africa anyone, any day, is looking for the opportunity to go abroad, - that is reality,” Makulilo said. “So you see a lot of people are putting things online that is not true and they want you to give them money.”


Makulilo contacted the U.S. Embassy. He discovered the information was real and his background in language would make him eligible to take the Fulbright exam under the foreign language section. Makulilo went to the information session and saw there were 400 applicants.

“After the session I told my friends that if they want one applicant in the Fulbright program, that one applicant is me,” Makulilo said. “I promised myself I am going into the war of going to the U.S.”

At the Fulbright departure party June 16, Makulilo poses with U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Green.Photo: At the Fulbright departure party June 16, Makulilo poses with U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Green.

Makulilo had six months to prepare his application, which consisted of 32 essay questions. As well as the essays, Makulilo also had to find three recommendations. He said this was difficult.

“Not many people are going to recommend you,” Makulilo said. “They say, ‘if I recommend you, you are going to the U.S. and I have to stay in Tanzania,’ and this was a professor. There is a lot of jealousy.”

Makulilo also had to pay for the medical exam, which cost him close to his entire allowance for the month.

Makulilo’s efforts paid off and he was one of the 27 applicants chosen to move to the interview stage.
The day of the interview came and Makulilo arrived ready for difficult questions.

“In Africa, or Tanzania in this instance, if someone has achieved something, (they) do not want others to reach his level,” Makulilo said. “Sometimes he can make objections. So they ask questions not to ask but to defeat you. This was just like a war.”

By 10 a.m. the next day Makulilo heard he had passed the interview.

Only the TOEFL exam remained. It was a grueling experience since it was the first time Makulilo had taken an exam on a computer, but he passed.

Days went by and other people in the program began to receive word where they had been assigned. Makulilo waited but nothing came. Finally, he was told that his contract with Marshall had been approved.

There were still some close calls. Students at Makulilo’s university held a protest, and he was worried that if it lasted more than three days, his school would be shut down. If that happened, Makulilo would not be able to get the papers Marshall required for the program.
Another close call occurred when Makulilo could not produce his transcripts to Marshall. His university required students to wait until after the graduation ceremony but Makulilo needed the information in advance in order to come to Marshall. He finally sent the documents with a day to spare.

Despite the hardships he endured, Makulilo is grateful to the Fulbright program and to Marshall.

“The Fulbright program is the only program to me which I really appreciate because it is my first time to travel outside my country,” Makulilo said. “I promised myself that if I get a son or a daughter, his or her name will be Fulbright-Marshall Makulilo.”

3 feedback :

William Sanare said... Sun Nov 09, 06:21:00 PM MST  

Keep it up bro, no pain no gain!
Yes, there is nothing to stop us from getting what we want!

kaka said... Sat Dec 13, 11:27:00 AM MST  

in hope always u can find a way.
Do not loose Hope.4 every one of us.

Anonymous said... Tue Dec 23, 08:22:00 AM MST  

himakulilo,your name sounds like mine.
im sure if what i have read is what you are,you must have seen the other side of the world, and hope you will be back home to roll the ball rather than stay in the country where you will always b an ectopic. kigoma and your home needs you.
the white managed to colonise our mind,that was as worst bad as is people sees slavely which might have resulted in all these.

Hope you will fight like a man of your own.

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