US, Nigeria Celebrate Years of Exchanges
The United States has recently hosted a special reception to celebrate the impact of the anniversary of cultural, educational, and professional exchanges that the United States has enjoyed with Nigeria and the rest of the world, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Some American Fulbright Scholars currently in Nigeria, as well as some Nigerian alumni of U.S. government-funded exchanges, such as Fulbright, Humphrey, International Visitor Leadership, Youth Exchange and Study, Tech Women, Teaching Excellence Award, and Eisenhower programme, gathered to observe the occasion which was organized by the US Embassy in Nigeria.
The exchange initiative started from Peru and Ecuador 75 years ago and later spread through to other parts of the world. Over the years, more than 10, 000 Nigerians have participated in the Exchanges. The U.S. exchange programmes alumni are well represented in leadership positions across Nigeria.
In her remarks addressed to the participants, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Maria E. Brewer said, “the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of exchanges presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the impact that your U.S. exchange experience has made in your personal lives”, she said.“But more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the impact that the exchange programmes have made in improving a wider understanding on American culture and values.”
Brewer noted that the U.S. exchange programmes are mutually beneficial to both countries.“Your visits to big cities and rural counties across America, and especially home visits, have had tremendous impact on the American’s understanding of Nigeria and its struggles”, she said to the participants.
She commended the efforts andincrease in the exchange alumni mentoring networks that have reached out to the next generation of Nigerian leaders, and helped advocate on several key bilateral issues, including the importance of peaceful elections, the environment, and the rights of the disabled, among many other noble and worthy causes.
Some of the representatives of the exchange alumni networks expressed the impact of the exchange programmes in their personal lives and the contributions of the alumni network to the society.
Speaking on behalf of the Youth-Exchange-and-Study exchange alumni, Aisha Waziri said the network has promoted peace especially in predominantly Muslim nations. It is also involved in organizing computer and vocational trainings for youth and women, as well as sensitizing the public on health issues.
Iyke Chukwu, who represented Humphrey Exchange Alumni, said the one-year-long exchange trained him on leadership and service. He added that the alumni network has identified climate change as an area of concern. So a group of people will help clean Abuja and create jobs for themselves through small and medium-scale enterprises that are environmentally viable.
Some of the distinguished alumni of the U.S. exchanges include Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos state, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Professor Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr. Maitama Sule, an elder statesman, and Nigeria’s first Vice President Alex Ekwueme.