African students reflect on time spent in MidMissouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - A group of African students attended a Jefferson City council meeting Monday to offer reflections on their time spent in mid-Missouri.

Sponsored by President Barack Obama, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders seeks to empower young leaders through exploration of the United States in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship to academia. 

Felix Edoho moved to the United States 30 years ago from Nigeria in pursuit of a higher education. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, where he is now a business professor. It was Edoho that fought for the group to stay on the Lincoln University campus. The school is one of 40 selected nation-wide to host the students. 

"If it's difficult here in the United States it's even more challenging in Africa, that is why these fellows are looked upon as future change agents in their respective countries," Edoho said. 

In their short but eventful time in the United States the group has visited St. Louis, attended collegiate lectures and have met with high level officials in the community.

Papsi Julia Motondo is a student on the program from Mozambique. Motondo said the group's meeting with Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin, inspired her. In her home country she said women are discriminated against in the workplace. 

"I need more so when I get back home, I would like to go and fight for good positions in order to help adult women to have self-sustainability through my projects and everything I am learning here," Motondo said. 

Motondo said she misses the sand beaches of her home but has received a warm welcome from the Jefferson City community. 

Tshiamo Dichabe is from South Africa and a business entrepreneur. Gichab said he has enjoyed exchanging ideas with the Americans he has met on the trip. "America invests in itself and that's something I wish Africa would be able to do," Gichab said.

Gichab said he was also impressed by the way his fellow students have come together.

"It's been interesting to learn of cross-cultural identities within Africa countries, some of the brothers and sisters on the trip have never been to eachother's countries before," Gichab said.

The group will host a cultural exchange night on the Lincoln University campus at the Richardson Fine Arts Center Thursday. The free event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will offer food and entertainment.