Moses Zirimwabagabo grew up in the district of Kicukiro in Kigali, Rwanda, near his family’s farm. You could often find him playing soccer with friends, riding his bike along the countryside, or even perhaps milking a cow or two. You might catch him enjoying a local favorite street food, chapati – a type of Indian flatbread, in Nyamirambo. Growing up as part of a large extended family, Moses enjoyed learning from these relationships as well as their neighbors and leaders in the community. He came to know Christ at an early age and that strong foundation of faith was what gave him the courage to explore his future.
Moses grew up surrounded by gifted intellectuals who inspired him, including his brother who participated in a program through Harvard in Rwanda and his cousin studied in the U.S. at the University of Texas at Austin, both achieving great success.
He started to contemplate studying in the U.S. because he knew he wanted to do something in the field of science, which was not as advanced in his home country. That began his search for a college in the states that would be the right fit for him. He specifically desired a smaller university that would allow him to grow, thrive, and make connections. With encouragement from a cousin attending a nearby school in Central West Texas, Moses began to consider Hardin-Simmons University. The Global Engagement Team at HSU worked closely with Moses to make this dream a reality for him.
When he finally got the chance to step foot on campus, the first sight he saw was a banner with his name displayed. Moses shared how he felt in those first few moments,
I felt like everyone truly cared for me. The Global Team helped connect me with other international students, which helped me navigate the transition to life and culture in the U.S.
Moses enjoys many things about life on the HSU campus, such as the piano in the Global Engagement Center which he plays when he gets the chance, and the pond at the center of campus where he enjoys peaceful moments watching Gilbert and the other ducks.
Moses is thankful for the technology of video chat that allows him to remain connected with his family in Rwanda. He also credits his second family at HSU – a network of professors, friends, campus co-workers, and other international students who help keep him grounded and encouraged. This is similar to the culture Moses grew up with back in Rwanda.
“My culture is about love. If you’re sick, people are around you. Friends and neighbors come to visit you and pray for you. If you are celebrating, they rejoice with you,” said Moses. “We all need a friend who is there when you need them most and we should be there for others as well. It’s not just sending prayers but being physically present. That is what my culture is all about.”
If you are lucky enough to know Moses, you will find him to be intelligent, funny, and a generally happy person. He smiles, laughs a lot, and is a friend to everyone who meets him.
Moses has a piece of advice for future international students, “This is a great opportunity for you to learn and grow. It is not easy, but it is rewarding. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (I have made plenty) and be teachable. Many international students have a preconceived idea about the U.S. and the opposite is also true, so be willing to learn and experience the beauty of a different culture.”
To find out more about International Studies at Hardin-Simmons visit https://www.hsutx.edu/admissions/international/international-student-services/