From Tanzania to Marshall University, WV

ZZ Ozturk
Issue date: 10/3/08 Section: Life


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.

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 Dar es Salaam, 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."

Makulilo had six months to prepare his application, which consisted of 32 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."

ZZ Ozturk can be contacted at ozturk1@marshall.edu

Displaying comments 1 - 24 of 24

mosses machali
posted 10/03/08 @ 3:19 AM EST
May I take this opportunity to congulaturate ERNEST MAKULILO Jr ,My best friend for his struggles till when he won the FULBRIGHT -marshal.Real many people applied for that but makulilo became the winner from many applicants.
I say big up and always think to big to reach far fro where you are.
posted by;
St.Augustine university of Tanzania,
Faculty of education (2nd year student)
p.o.box 307,

Post a reply to this comment Robert Elias a.k.a Gaucho
posted 10/03/08 @ 6:40 AM EST
I take this opportunity to congratulate my best friend Mr. Ernest Makulilo for his effort, visions, missions,objectives and dreams that he had since when we came to know each other! He had been my very wonderful friend who by any means had been thinking of staying abroad! I still encourage him to continue with such motivation towards achieving other intended goals ahead of his life! Makulili is really a good example to Africans who always keep their brain domant and static towards fulfilling their intentions! Big up man and all the best forever.

Post a reply to this comment Francis E. Semwaza
posted 10/03/08 @ 9:25 AM EST
This is just to congratulate Professor Ernest Makulilo for his determination and vision. He is strong and doesn't dispair. LIVE LONG ERNEST MAKULILO, FULBRIGHT is the PROGRAM.

Post a reply to this comment Atupakisye Mwakolo
posted 10/04/08 @ 6:31 AM EST
Always hard working people achieve the best in life! your hard working gives us also more courage to strive in achieving and fulfilling our dreams. Congratulation my dear friend and let pray for each other. The beggining that you have started with gives you more hope to go ahead, keep struggling and never give up!

Post a reply to this comment Sebastian Maduhu
posted 10/04/08 @ 8:42 AM EST
Wonderful Makulilo!
This is how succesiful people do. Keep it up and remember, "No Sweet Without Sweat"

Post a reply to this comment Isaac Mbata
posted 10/05/08 @ 4:42 AM EST
Congratulation Mr.Makulilo. Being your classmate at the University I'm an eyewitness of all efforts you made to get into that achievements. GOD bless you today and always. I wish you all the best.

Post a reply to this comment Yassin Mchondo a.k.a Chandejr
posted 10/05/08 @ 3:33 PM EST
Hi Ernest Makulilo(Baba Fulbright-Marshall Makulilo), Congrates on Your Success. God fulfill all your wishes what ever you want in your life..

Post a reply to this comment jesperkatomero
posted 10/06/08 @ 2:19 AM EST
"every successeful endevor requires time and patience" u worked hard brother, u deserve it, good luck! but dont forget ur African roots!

Post a reply to this comment gabriel
posted 10/06/08 @ 9:32 PM EST
congratulations bro!!!!

Post a reply to this comment Marigiri chacha
posted 10/08/08 @ 5:22 AM EST
u sacrificed a lot bro and thats what u diserve..stick to knitting and ur principal underpinnings..let em know:kigoma can do better what zurich can!!!!!!!!

Post a reply to this comment Elijah Kondi
posted 10/08/08 @ 9:16 AM EST
That's it my buddy. Congrates and may you always be successful. After such a hardwork you are now eating the fruits! keep it up!

Post a reply to this comment Damas Didas- (R&B Musician)
posted 10/11/08 @ 6:02 AM EST
Yes "Mdau" i remember how we used to struggle in Mbeya_Tanzania, time before starting higher learning at University. so now i realize that when you long for something, you have to keep struggling till when you succeed. congratulation, you are a real WARRIOR an you won the battle. "Fulbright is da taeing"

Post a reply to this comment Mohamed Hmouma
posted 10/15/08 @ 8:19 PM EST
Awesome, Yea, "No sweet without sweat" What can I say? More than nice! You did a great job! If you work hard enough, it pays off. You should present something at Washington, DC workshop. Meet you in DC.

Post a reply to this comment Valeria Kuzivanova
posted 10/15/08 @ 8:22 PM EST
If you want something very much, you will get it. I have seen so many examples in my life but sometimes I still have some doubts. You show to me that there is no reason for doubts at all. I think that I will never be so determined to do something. But you have already won, and you'll win many times after. this is only the beginning. You are great and very educated. Good luck to you! And don't forget about your promise. I hope to see one day Fulbright-Marshall Makulilo.

Post a reply to this comment Rikrd J. kilasi. aka made in Tanzania in the UK
posted 10/16/08 @ 10:07 AM EST
This is just to say, i appreciate the efforts made by this fellow by the name,Ernest Makulillo jr to the achievement just seen in the US now, it is a challenge to Tanzanians and other young generation toward reaching achievement,so keep it up.

Post a reply to this comment Badeleya Marco
posted 10/18/08 @ 12:36 AM EST
Hi my friend Makulilo,
Let me have this chance to congratulate you.Real I apreciate the way you fight to have Fulbright Program.The way promise yourself that if you get a son or a daughter his name or her name will be Fulbright Marshall Makulilo for sure I agree with you because it has made you in history.
Congratulation man just keek it up
I wish you all the best in the Program I hope God will be with you all the time and you will make wounders there.
All the best.

Post a reply to this comment Furaha Julius.
posted 10/19/08 @ 7:29 AM EST
Let me refer you as a comrade!...indeed you inspire me by your extra-ordinary determinations!...actually the entire deal was not an easy endeavor, it requires the courageous one with a "never say die" spirit to toil up!...you have made your dreams reality!...I've explored your potentiality that you're engineous and true "mzandiki".....big up man!

Post a reply to this comment Elias Kasoma
posted 10/22/08 @ 10:11 AM EST
This is great achievement so far, but i strongly encourage you to keep going on with the same mission, mind and plans. Take this as a challenge towards a great achievement and success in your life. Congratulation brother keep your head up...........!!!!

Post a reply to this comment Vilma Santana Eugui
posted 10/22/08 @ 4:10 PM EST
My dear friend Ernest! I see I'm not the only person who really feels proud about you. Whenever I think about success I think that it comes in many forms and from many directions. Often it does not come easily and all the obstacles and distractions thrown in our direction will do their best to stop us from acting on our dream and achieving the success we want.

I find it helpful, when I'm going through a difficult time and the obstacles look insurmountable, to read about how others have succeeded -- in whatever way they were pursuing their dream and working to make it real.

That's why my great great friend I wanted to share with you this: "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened; vision cleared; ambition inspired, and success achieved." (Helen Keller)

You are a great inspiration to many people including me! I thank the day I met you through this same program and be an FLTA from Argentina just like you from Tanzania.

Take care and remember that success in life requires passion, determination, character, to know thyself, hard work, attention to detail,etc...but most importantly no matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to the people you love, what have you really accomplished?


Post a reply to this comment Benson Matawana
posted 11/26/08 @ 8:04 AM EST
Kidingi Makulilo!
Mambo mzuka kaka.Naamini mpiganaji haogopi makovu.Walichonga sana:mazee tunachomoka kwa kandambili.Hawakujua,ila hii ni spirit kaka.Nimefurahi kusoma article yako sikuwa na muda kutuma comments.Mie nawakaribisha Germany.
Ndugu zangu bongo nawasihii acheni kupenda maisha ya kwenye TV.Hao jaamaa ktk tv wapo kazini kuuza kazi yao.Njooni muone watu wanavyo fanya kazi ulaya.Kweli mda wa anasa ni anasa sana.
Tufanye kazi na kutafuta hakuna kuchoka

Post a reply to this comment Andrew
posted 12/15/08 @ 11:10 AM EST
Congrats bro'
Keep up the good work. Stay blessed!

Post a reply to this comment mansoor
posted 12/25/08 @ 4:20 PM EST
dah bro makulilo i have total respect for you man! it is very couragious and exciting to read your story and believe me i am convinced that everyone who dreams of something better can go for it!! it clear that for someone to be successful you need to sacrifice as you did.. 'borrowing your friend's laptop'

i really dont know what to tell you, but dude that is awesome! congrats bro..

Post a reply to this comment dr. Innocentus Alhamis
posted 1/11/09 @ 2:07 PM EST
your hard working at last paid. I remember I did the same and success was realized. Good job. BUT, let these achievements not to be the end of the beginning but the beginning of the beginning Makulilo

Post a reply to this comment Godfrey Mika Mwakipesile
posted 2/24/09 @ 9:37 AM EST
Hi my young brother makulilo, isnt the first time to visit your interested and wonderful website for most afican youth but is first time to pay a visit too your profile it is so amazing.Keep on doing on what u believe to achieve in the near future.


Post a Comment


Anonymous said…
Happy birthday Makulilo Jr... keep up the good work.
I am always grateful for the good information. Regards,
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Hey Hongera sana..Happy Bday wangu.....you now growing old si ndio...basi kuwa salamaaaa
Anonymous said…
eh mwenzangu makulilo nakuona shavu dodo,unang'aa,mambo vp?mzima?mie angel tulikua wote UD (angel yule wa BCOM) ooh nimesahau HAPPY BIRTH DAY
i hope things are good,i am happy 2see and visit ur blog.
al da best pal
Anonymous said…
Makulilo rudi nyumbani utusaidie Temeke kujiendeleza na elimu maana moja ya sheria ya visa yako ilisema ukimaliza scholar yako hapo Mashall University utarudi nyumbani Tanzania kutufundisha .
"The student must return to Tanzania after they complete their studies and work to develop Tanzania."
sasa na wewe umekatalia huko, eti unaendelea na masomo.atarudi nani.
Anonymous said…
Fulbright FLTA 08 Ernest Makulilo teaches children in West Virginia about Tanzania
October 23, 2008

On October 9, 2008 Fulbright FLTA Ernest Makulilo talked about Tanzania to 300 primary school children at Spring Hill Elementary School in Huntington City, West Virginia. Makulilo talked about Tanzanian culture in general, the meaning of the colours of the flag of Tanzania, and about the Maasai tribe. He demonstrated how the Maasai dress by dressing two of the students in the Maasai Shukas. He also taught them a few words of Kiswahili; their favorites were “Mwalimu”, “Asante” , and “Rafiki” . The event was organized by the Huntington Museum of Art as part of their two-month exhibition on African Art.

The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program takes young graduate English teachers to the U.S. to teach their native Kiswahili and study at U.S. institutions for a year. The program is a fellowship under the U.S. Government funded Fulbright international exchange program and aims to foster mutual understanding between Tanzania and the United States. Makulilo teaches Kiswahili and a class called “Global Connections: Discover Africa” at Marshall University in West Virginia (http://tanzania.usembassy.gov/pr_10232008.html)HONGERA NYINGI SANA.LAKINI PAMOJA NA HONGERA HIZO NI VEMA UKIWA MKWELI.PROFILE YAKO INAELEZA KUWA WEWE NI PROFESA LAKINI NADHANI HIYO SIO KWELI.ULIDHAMIRIA KUWA LECTURER UMEWEZA,NA UKIDHAMIRIA KUPATA UPROFESA WA KWELI UTAUPATA PIA,LKN SIO KWA KUFUNGANA KAMBA.
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