Ugandan Agriculture student Simon Ekwaro first arrived in Israel during the fall of 2013 for an 11 month internship at Agrostudies. He had already completed his BA in Agriculture in Uganda and was looking to expand his knowledge and gain practical experience that would help him find a job in his chosen field.
He spent the year working hard and studying even harder, and managed to impress his teachers and coordinators at Agrostudies, who then helped him apply for admission and scholarship for a Masters Degree in Agriculture at the Hebrew University’s campus in Rehovot. Thanks to the tools and knowledge he acquired through Agrostudies he was accepted and returned for a second time to Israel in the fall of 2014 to commence his studies towards a Masters degree.
I spoke with Simon about his experiences in Israel and his thoughts on the future.
Q: How would you describe your time with Agrostudies?
A: Generally it was a very good, very positive experience. It took some time for most of the students to adjust, but what made it different for me was that I had already finished my first degree and I had about 5-6 months of real life experience. I knew coming in that it wasn’t going to be easy and that it was important to work hard. So I chose to see all the ways the program could be an advantage for me.
Because we had free internet I was able to expand my knowledge and explore and do a lot of research. It became a key thing for me.
Before returning to Uganda I spoke to Dr. Miriam Zilberstein and Julie from Agrostudies and asked their advice on receiving a scholarship so I could continue my studies. They said it would be hard but it was possible and that was very encouraging.
Q: How did your time at Agrostudies help you reach your goal of attending the Hebrew University for your Masters degree?
A: The good relationship with the staff and their support helped me a lot. Also, the money I earned at Agrostudies allowed me to pay for the application as well as to return to Uganda and come back to Israel again.
Q: So what does your life look like now?
A: I live in Rehovot, in the student dormitory with other international students from places like Sri Lanka, Mexico, Nigeria, India and more. I study every day except Saturday. The classes are in English. We also have practical courses in things like drip irrigation and other similar subjects so we get real experience. I am enjoying it even though it is very hard work and I am sure I am going to make it.
Q: Any plans for the future?
A: I want to learn more about technology. In Uganda we have a lot of rain during a short time in the year but they have no technology to utilize this rainfall and so it goes to waste. I also want to learn more about advanced breeding, raising drought resistant crops, drip irrigation and much more. When I finish my studies I want to start my own farm where I can implement what I’ve learnt and do my own sort of farming.
Q: Any advice you want to give?
A: I would encourage my government to invest in technology, to teach everyone how to use drip irrigation, to use our resources so that there is not so much waste. I also think that more students who have completed their studies should join this program (Agrostudies), because it also allows them to save some money so they can start their own farms and implement the business plans.