a Sierra Leone student travels to Oklahoma for technology training

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Walking through the halls of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Abu Bakarr Bangura greets almost everyone he sees, smiling and waving hello.

“That’s why my friends back home gave me the name ‘Bakwish’. I’m always wishing people hello and giving them happy greetings,” Bangura said.wholesale jerseys from china A slight but powerfully built young man, Bangura is an information technology student at the Oklahoma City based technology center.

Back home is Sierra Leone a place made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of a black market diamond seller amid a West African civil war in the movie Blood Diamond. More recently, the country has dominated headlines for being ravished by the Ebola virus.

Bangura, who came to Oklahoma after winning a visa lottery almost two years ago, never imagined as a sociology major he would study information technology.

“In Sierra Leone we have computer classes with no computers,” he said. “We would read about them by sharing a textbook. I had never heard of the phrase ‘hands on learning’ until I came here.”

Bangura was orphaned at the age of eight during the country’s 10 year civil war that ended in 2002. He began forming relationships with Oklahomans who were traveling there to provide support to the orphanage he lived in just outside Freetown.

“I knew Oklahoma must be a great place, because it sent such wonderful people. It is not easy to travel to Sierra Leone and offer assistance,” Bangura said.

Bangura went on to describe his education as consisting of listening to teachers lecture all day and memorizing answers he would be tested on.

“We would spend long days in classrooms with only a few desks or chairs often having no writing utensils or paper. But the main thing I’ve realized after studying at Francis Tuttle, is how outdated the subjects are that we study in Sierra Leone,” Bangura said.

“Sure you need the basics of math and writing, but why would you need a sociology major in a country with almost no access to clean drinking water or few good roads? Those types of majors are what is taught because it’s what we still have left over from being a former British colony. We need education systems that build up our economy and give us the skills to build our country,” he added.

The families affiliated with the Edmond based charity, KOMEO, that helped secure Bangura’s visa and new life in Oklahoma initially planned to Bangura get into a community or four year college.

But one host family, which Bangura currently lives with, were ardent career and technology education supporters. They advocated it would be in Bangura’s best interest to take a more affordable education route to learn a skill or trade that would quickly provide numerous job opportunities to earn a good salary.

“Once Abu completes our courses, he is going to be entering a field where he can make from $60 thousand to $70 thousand as an average salary,” said Marian Millican, network technology instructor at Francis Tuttle, who has taught Bangura during his two years of studying. “Many of our students who complete these certificate studies find jobs immediately in the fields of computer network development and support, IT support for governmental agencies, private sector companies, and schools and educational facilities.http://www.big49erssanfrancisco.com The IT industry is only going to continue to grow. In Oklahoma, there’s a current and projected future need for hundreds more workers with these kinds of skills.”

The programs Bangura has studied include Computer Support Specialist, Enterprise Support Technician and Microsoft Server Administration.

“I know there’s a high demand for these skills in Oklahoma, but had never really thought of the international implication for students who come here from places like Sierra Leone,” Millican said. “Who knows what the possibilities of improving education worldwide would look like if students in underdeveloped countries were encouraged to focus more on career and technology education over certain humanities that may not be practical?”

Bangura said, “My goal is to eventually travel back and forth setting up small businesses that help my country build up its technology infrastructure and teach people computer skills.

“In our community there are lots of people wearing Thunder jerseys and OSU and OU gear because of all the influence of Oklahomans traveling there,” he added. “The first time I go back, I am going and distribute Francis Tuttle shirts and tell everyone they need to have a vision for more practical education. It would help Sierra Leone develop so much more rapidly. If CareerTech existed all over the rest of the world, people’s lives and the global economy would truly be changed.”.