Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fulbright Research Connects Primates and People

 Living in a remote rainforest camp, spending days sifting through monkey feces may seem daunting for some, but for Fulbright scholar Sagan Friant, it’s beginning to feel normal.

Friant, a PhD student of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, returned to the wilderness of Cross River State for the fourth time this March to embark on a 9-month research project with the Center for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature (CERCOPAN), a non-governmental organization focusing on the conservation and rehabilitation of primates.Friant is researching how changes in the environment impact wildlife health, and how, in turn, this affects human health and the relationships between wildlife and nearby human communities.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ramadan Fasting in the U.S. - Challenging and Mentally Exhausting for a First-timer

Ramadan fasting in the U.S. is a huge challenge to the participating individual - spiritually rewarding, but mentally exhausting, especially for a visitor.  Coping with the time difference for fast breaking, and finding "appropriate" food within   a short distance can be a daunting task, depending on where the individual is lodging in town.  As a regular traveller to the United States, this year's Ramadan is my third experience.  My first experience fasting in the U.S. was in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1994.  There, I was very lucky to meet Imam Yahya Hendi, who introduced me to the Muslim Community Center, very close to my hotel, where Muslim brothers and sisters worshiped and shared Iftar food with everyone who showed up at the mosque.

Friday, August 10, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Nigeria

SecClinton wavesSecState Clinton waves to staff of the Embassy during Meet and Greet-Embassy photo by Idika OnyukwuMinisters of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pose with SecClintonPresident Goodluck making remarksPresident Goodluck Jonathan with SecState Hillary Clinton at the Presidential Villa, Abuja Aug 9_Embassy photo by Idika OnyukwuSecClinton with President Jonathan
Secretary Clinton with President Jonathan & Amb AshiruSecClinton at the State HousePresident Goodluck welcomes Secretary Hillary ClintonPresident Goodluck welcomes Secretary ClintonSecClinton visits Nigeria

Secretary Clinton (Aug. 9): "We’re ... very supportive of the anticorruption reform efforts, more transparency, and the work that you and your team is also championing, because we really believe that the future for Nigeria is limitless."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Maternal Survival

Many years ago an aunt of mine died during child birth. I was told after the baby came out, the placenta couldn’t and instead of taking her to a health facility the women gathered around, said she should confess her sins and that would ensure the placenta was delivered. She didn’t do this and of course bled to death. This tragedy is probably replayed in different ways throughout Nigeria where too many women die in child birth. Statistics claim that while Nigeria’s population is about 2 percent of the world it contributes ten percent to world maternal, infant and child mortality.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fulbright Scholar Inspires and Connects in Ife

For American sculptor Al LaVergne, coming to Nigeria as a Fulbright scholar has been a homecoming to a home he never knew he had.

LaVergne, who is currently putting finishing touches on a 14-foot steel sculpture called “The Gift” at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, described his experience in Nigeria so far as a year of new friendships, dialogue and inspiration.

As an African American from a large family, he had always felt a “strong connection on some level” to Africa.

He was inspired to travel to Nigeria after meeting prominent Yoruba woodcarver Lamidi Fakeye, who visited LaVergne at Western Michigan University, where LaVergne teaches, and spoke with him about the possibility of study in Nigeria. Though Fakeye passed away in 2009, LaVergne continued with these plans and arrived in Ife in January.