A South Sudanese man, who came to the Maritimes to study, credits all of his success to a Nova Scotia university.

Barnaba Okony Gilo attended the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

The institute trains development leaders from around the world.

“We've been around since 1959, have over 7,000 graduates around the world,” says Gord Cunningham of the Coady International Institute. “We bring development leaders from over 130 countries here to this campus, about 400 a year.”

Gilo graduated from Coady in 2008.

“Although I do not have documents of Canada, but I'm proud to be a Canadian,” says Gilo.

Now, he is a member of parliament in South Sudan.

“We are changing the world to be a better place for all of us to stay in peace and harmony,” says Gilo.

Gilo is a politician in South Sudan's governing party. He was elected to his state legislative assembly in 2010 and has worked on committees in health, education, and legal affairs. He's also a former director of a national NGO for the demobilization of child soldiers.

Gilo credits all of his success to his time at the Coady Institute.

“It makes all of us here at StFX and Coady tremendously proud to know that the skills and experiences that Gilo picked up here have been formative in his work as an MP in South Sudan. 

Gilo studies focused on conflict transformation and peace building.

“Myself, I was born in war. I grew up in war,” says Gilo.

He still keeps his StFX ID and proudly shows it off to his colleagues.

“I tell them, let us go to Coady and Coady will change you,” says Gilo.

Gilo says the only drawback to his time in Nova Scotia was the weather.

“It is the first time in my life to see the weather is coming down to 15, to 10, until we reached to minus 1, minus 5, that is for the first time in my history,” says Gilo.

While the temperatures were chilly, the Maritime hospitality was warm.

“We were also given friends, we go to the church, life was really good and it is my dream and it is in my prayers that I should go and visit them one time,” says Gilo.

Perhaps, the only thing he wants more is peace.

“That's my hope. That's my dream actually, that's my dream,” says Gilo.

A dream he's equipped to help realize because of a Nova Scotia institution with global reach.

With files from CTV's Kayla Hounsell