But Hargrave’s gratefulness for the massive deed didn’t go void as the pair was invited to the United States to attend ECU and receive their master’s degrees, thanks to funding help from Reggie Whitten and the Pros for Africa organization.
“Part of our principle was service. If we would have taken the money, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Kirabira.
That decision has led to the pair broadening their education for a lifetime.
“It’s been a life-changing time for me. In the classroom, I’ve learned a lot and because of the exposure to things outside of class and the interaction with students and the community,” Kirabira said. “To receive love from the community and to open their homes for us has been great.”
Kirabira, who is receiving his master’s in accounting, has certainly expanded his understanding of the U.S. and its culture as well as being exposed to the other cultures of international students at ECU.
He remembers the challenges he faced when he first arrived, particularly the culture shock.
“People could not understand me when I talked. I saw a video of when I first arrived and couldn’t believe it was me,” said Kirabira. “My language and my perspective on things have changed. Right now I’m looking at this as a global thing because of my interaction with people here.”
There have been obvious hurdles for the pair to overcome, particularly missing their home country, family and friends, along with the adjustments to American life.
“We had to adjust to the food and intrusive weather here,” Mugabi said. “It was a challenge to fully settle down and get used to the pace, but the friendships we developed here made us feel at home. After our time here though, we agree that America is a great nation!"