Name: NKURUNZIZA GELASE
Host Institution: MAKERERE UNIVERSITY
Course: DEGREE OF MASTERS OF SCIENCES IN PLANT BREEDING AND SEED SYSTEMS
Thesis: COMBINING ABILITY AMONG WHITE AND YELLOW MAIZE CONVERSIONS FOR YIELD AND RESISTANCE TO MAIZE STREAK VIRUS DISEASE
A brief story about your experience studying abroad.
My name is Nkurunziza Gelase from Burundi. I graduated in 2018 at Makerere University, Uganda with an MSc degree in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems. My scholarship was funded by the European Union via Intra-ACP academic mobility Program via its SHARE project. My academic research was focusing on “Combining ability among white and yellow maize conversion for yield and resistance to maize streak virus disease. My research was successfully carried because of a very strong collaboration between Makerere University and the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI). My Master training started in September 2013 and ended in March 2017 with a viva voice successfully completed.
When I got the scholarship, I was happy and also scared about the language of training. My first day classes, I could get again scared about the language that the lecturers were using. I could only get few words. But of course, to make a change is scary, but when you get over the fear the awesomeness starts – I promise. Here’s what happened when I got over my fear and opportunities I made.
At Makerere University, I had opportunity to interact with colleagues from several other African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania Zambia and Zimbabwe. From this network, I made good friends and we keep sharing social and sciences opportunities through a WhatsApp and Facebook groups created by one of the friends. Through this same network, I managed to strengthen my English skills since my initial official language is French.
My three year stay in Uganda opened my mind in socializing with people. I did not stay inside campus but just outside nearby where the lent is relatively affordable. Uganda is an open country to stay in and no body mind about your presence as a foreigner. I have never seen a policeman asking me any document, thought I had a student pass. The languages that Ugandans use are different from my mother tongue but I managed to understand some Luganda words with the time. After 1 year, I could go to the market and negotiate the prices in Luganda. In the business if they realize that you are not a Ugandan, they can easily double or even triple the prices that are initially fair compared to the one I was used in Burundi.
After this training in Plant breeding, my intention is to set a maize breeding program at my home research Institute (ISABU) to implement the skills received from Makerere University. I will be also training my colleagues and technicians on plant breeding concepts.
In summary, despite the worries, if you ever get the chance to go and study abroad: please do. You will never regret it – ever. Even if you go to the other side of the world, it will start to feel like home after one or two months. I therefore take this opportunity to sincerely thank the organizer of this training program, the SHARE project team especially Prof. Paul Kibwika and Mrs Dorcas Loga Okello for their hospitality. The chance I got opened my mind in both academic and social aspects. May God bless the whole team for ever and ever.
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