Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs, Aruna Amirthanayagam, led an educational and cultural affairs team on a three-day trip to Jalingo, Taraba State. The trip, from October 2-4, broadened the reach of U.S. Embassy educational and cultural programs, increased support to alumni of U.S. exchange programs, and built new relationships with individuals and institutions in the east of the country. The team overcame the security and transportation challenges to realize the visit.
The First Lady of Taraba State, Anne Ishaku, welcomed the team to “nature’s gift to the nation.” The First Lady is but one of a number of Taraba State beneficiaries of U.S. programs. She participated in both the prestigious International Visitor Leadership program in 2001 and the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship in 2006.
As an alumna, Mrs. Ishaku hosted a working lunch for the Embassy team and 12 other Taraba state alumni. The meeting touched on fostering continued alumni cooperation. Participants also discussed developing a method of evaluating the ongoing impact of the fellowship programs on professional and leadership growth.
At a meeting with Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) alumni and members of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network in Jalingo, where they shared their experiences with prospective applicants for 2020 programs, Mr. Amirthanayagam encouraged competitive applications. “I hope that as a result of our visit to Taraba State that more young people will apply for our exchanges as well as to study in the U.S.” When you experience a different culture through educational and cultural exchange you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and those around you—deepening your knowledge of foreign cultures and strengthening international relationships.
Consistently stressing EducationUSA opportunities for U.S. study, the team met with the Management team of the Taraba State University. Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Benedicta Dauda, is also an alum of the U.S. Fulbright program. At the Excellence International School, also in Jalingo, the team presented on ‘studying in the U.S.’ to students, parents, teachers, and staff. The PAO and Education Advisor Kathryn Suwa participated in a call-in program on the Taraba State Broadcasting Service to promote EducationUSA, the MWF, and other exchange programs to a wide audience across the region.
PAO Amirthanayagam and his team also arranged a visit to Zing and Kona where they learned about the history and culture of the Mumuyes and the Jukuns – two of the largest tribes in the state. While paying courtesy calls on the traditional leaders the team encouraged them to apply for the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation for projects to preserve and promote their culture.