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Rwandans working in Nebraska on their nation’s future

January 12, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The African nation of Rwanda needs to feed its fast-growing population of 12 million residents and has been sending some of its best and brightest students to study agriculture and related subjects in Nebraska.

The nearly 160 Rwanda students taking classes now constitute the third-largest population of foreign students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Rwandan government has partnered with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and pledged to educate 200 Rwandans to build the country’s future. The foundation is run by a son of Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett and supports agriculture, nutrition, humanitarian and other projects.

Most of the Rwandans are enrolled in the university’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. They’re taking courses centered on conservation agriculture, as well as courses on leadership and entrepreneurship. They have freedom to explore a specialization within the agriculture and natural resources offerings before returning home.

“The intent is for the scholars to return to Rwanda and invest their talents and energy into improving the ag sector there,” said Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the ag college’s Undergraduate Scholars Program. The nation is still recovering from the 1994 genocide in which ethnic Hutu extremists killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and some Hutu moderates.

Lisa Berwa — one of the first students accepted into the program — is focusing on community nutrition.

“When I go back home, I see myself being part of rural communities and helping educate others on how to use research and resources that are already available,” Berwa told the Lincoln Journal Star . “Thinking global, but acting locally.”

Christian Kabanda, a junior from the Rwandan capital of Kigali, has concentrated on energy science. He hopes to help transform Rwanda’s electrical grid and expand power beyond the 40 percent of Rwandans who have access to it now.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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