Friday, December 13, 2013

Giving back to the youth

It is generally agreed that unemployment, especially among youth, is one of the issues that fuels the fire of violence and insecurity in parts of Nigeria. The United States government in its partnership with the Nigerian government emphasizes a holistic approach to Nigeria’s security challenge that includes an economic recovery strategy to complement the military one.
As a partner and friend, the U.S. government also supports Nigeria’s efforts in engaging young people through various youth targeted activities. The theme of this year’s annual U.S. alumni leadership conference was Youth Empowerment for Peace, Education and Leadership. The focus was on discussing issues related to youth in northern Nigeria and the way forward.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Privatization and Power

Nigeria’s recent privatization exercise of the power sector has been carried out on a comprehensive scale, with the privatization of both the generation (GENCOS) and distribution companies (DISCOS) simultaneously. Public reaction to the wholesale privatization exercise is mixed; some support it, some are against it and others have a wait and see attitude. The Nigerian government sees it as a necessary move to speed up access and availability of power as part of the Vision 20:2020.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Fall in Illinois

The month of October reminds me of Fall time in my hometown of Roodhouse in rural Illinois.  October means high school football, Halloween, and the harvest of wheat, soybeans, and corn.  Rural Illinois is not like the spreading metropolis of Chicago, but is rather a scarcely populated area of small towns, country homes, and a lot of farm land.  On Friday nights, people from these small towns congregate to their local high school's football field (American football) to watch two teams battle out a game of strength and skill with the pigskin (football) on the gridiron (football field).  As October nears its end, the temperature typically drops and evening football game-goers are usually seen wearing blue jeans and sweatshirts, and drinking hot chocolate under the gleaming field lights.

Friday, October 25, 2013

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One

When people look to establish, maintain, or enhance relationships with others, finding common ground is critical to achieving that goal. Differences in race, religion, gender, etc. are often easier to see than similarities, and they can become significant obstacles to forging an effective relationship. Regardless of the type of relationship, an understanding of each other's background and identity is vital towards finding that common ground.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons From a Former Premed to Other International Applicants - Part II

By Peace Eneh
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ‘17
...continued from the previous post

What’s the deal with the MCAT?

I struggled with the MCAT and I know many international students struggle as well. Find a way to overcome this challenge. You need to do really well on the MCAT (a score of 30 and above) to show that you can perform on the same level as the American students. The admission committee needs to know that you can keep up with the rigors and academic challenges of medical school, so although your MCAT score is not the end of the road to medical school, it is very important especially as an international student. This is because most of the medical schools that accept and have financial aid for international students are private, and unfortunately these schools are generally the more competitive ones. However, if you have tried everything you possibly can to get a better score and still not able to reach the 30 mark, this is not the end of the road for you if you have other things working in your favor, like a super strong GPA, an impressive research background, some publications, etc. Some schools recognize that some bright students have difficulty with standardized tests such as MCAT so your experiences might outweigh the not so great MCAT score.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lessons From a Former Premed to Other International Applicants

By Peace Eneh
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ‘17

Disclaimer: I am using this blog to share what I have learned from applying to medical school in the US. It is very informal and by no means the blueprint. These are just tips that might help. The application experience varies from person to person, and decisions are made on individual basis, so the tips presented here are by no means foolproof. I also have to emphasize here, that most medical schools require that the premed coursework be completed at an American undergraduate institution, and very few medical schools will accept coursework completed in Canada.

Choosing an Undergraduate Institution
There are a few things to consider if you have the privilege of being accepted to more than one US undergraduate programs. Some undergraduate institutions have better systems in place to help their students complete the premed coursework and to obtain the relevant experiences required by medical schools. The institutions also have varying levels of involvement in the whole medical school application process so it is a good thing to think about these when making your decision. Here are some questions that would be good to ask:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time to Read

By correctly spelling the word “descendant” young Mma won the spelling bee competition for children ages eight to ten years.  This was at the closing ceremony of this year’s summer reading program for kids organized by the American Corner Abuja in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy.

For two weeks the children engaged in different reading activities.  They read books, engaged in reading and writing poems, attended story telling sessions and even some arts and crafts classes.  The sum of the activities reaffirmed and helped the children see that reading could be lots of fun.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Dream Revisited: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Then and Now

August 28, 1963
United States National Mall
August 28, 2013 marks fifty years since Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a massive crowd of tens of thousands of Americans, and delivered one of the most powerful, culturally impactful speeches in history.  This anniversary is a powerful reminder to all Americans of how far the U.S. has come in improving civil rights and race relations, but also cause to reflect on how much further we have to go to achieve the equitable, just, and peaceful society that King and so many other civil rights leaders dreamed of.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What's Happening Now and What's Next: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

Ambassador Froman and African officials hear
from an African businesswoman about diverse export
products including Shea butter and cassava flour.
Shea butter, clothing, and countless other African products that make their way to U.S. store shelves. American ingenuity building bridges - literally - across the African continent, with skills training for workers to boot. These are success stories of America's trade and investment relationship with Africa, all highlighted at the AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa.

After helping to open the 12th AGOA Forum and bringing a message from President Obama to the assembled government officials, private sector and civil society delegates today, Ambassador Froman formally launched a major review of AGOA, aimed at building on successes and addressing challenges with the U.S. preference program that allows substantially all goods from 39 African countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.

Dig into Reading with Storytelling

Children participating at the fourth Summer Reading Program organized by the Abuja American Corner and the U.S. Embassy got a special treat.  This was when Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA)/Funtime Prize winner for Children’s Literature, Spencer Okoroafor, engaged them in a storytelling session. The summer reading program is an annual program aimed at encouraging reading culture amongst Nigerian children. Several different activities including: a spelling bee, poetry and arts and craft, have been infused into this year's reading program themed "Dig into Reading".

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Volunteering in the month of devotion

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the most important pillars of Islam.  It is a time for thoughtful reflection and total devotion to God.  During this month, more than 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world abstain from especially food and drink among other things for 29 or 30 days, from dawn to dusk.  At the end of each day they gather together with friends and family to break their fast which is known as Iftar.  The Iftar provides nourishment in preparation for the next day of fasting.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Whole New World

Every year, hundreds of Nigerians travel to the United States in pursuit of higher education. Many of these students are young and travelling to the U.S. for the first time.  They will live and study in a completely different environment for between two to four years.  One of the first challenges that will confront them is culture shock.  From the weather, to the food, to the different accents, they will have a lot of adjustments to make.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jazz: Born in America, enjoyed worldwide

The title could refer not only to jazz music but several other things as well.  However we are talking about music today.  Apart from Jazz, America has also given the world blues, hip hop and R&B.  These types of music have a huge following around the world especially among young people.  However most people outside America have only listened to or watched performances of this music on television or radio.  This is where the State Department’s “Jazz Envoy” program comes in.  It takes American musicians to different parts of the world to perform before audiences who would normally not enjoy such or would have to pay a lot to do so.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

3 Secret Founding Fathers of the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson.  Benjamin Franklin.  Samuel Adams.  Many Americans, students of American History, and/or drinkers of beer recognize these names as Founding Fathers of the United States of America.  These brave souls, along with fifty three other patriots, are rightfully recognized as the individuals who put pen to paper and sent a message to the world—that it was the beginning of the end for repressive, unrepresentative governments everywhere.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Talking About Children’s Rights

“We can provide solutions to Nigeria’s problems,”  a sharp and thought-provoking response from a mere toddler  who was among a group of 5 – 11 year old school children at a program in the U.S. Embassy, Abuja.  The program in commemoration of children’s day focused on the Nigerian Government’s Child Rights Act.

When asked what rights children had the responses by the children were very insightful – clearly, they had a pretty good idea of what rights they have.  Answers given include right to speech, right to education, right to movement and right to worship.

Monday, June 17, 2013

307 American “Holidays”: June Edition

For Americans, nothing is too unimportant to celebrate with a day, week, or even month!  Want to encourage awareness of sauntering?  June 19th is yours!  Do you passionately wish to share your abiding love of clay with others?  Have a whole week.  But why settle for a day or week when you can dedicate an entire month to the refreshing wonders of iced tea?  Americans take less holidays than almost any nation on earth, yet we clutter the calendar with an astounding number of questionable celebrations.  We found 307 “holidays” on record for the Month of June alone.  We spared you 304 of them.  You’re welcome.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Social Media in Fighting Corruption

U.S Speaker on anti-corruption, Mr. Peter Ainsworth, spent a few hours at the American Corner in Abuja yesterday with a small group of civil society members active in social media to discuss how it can be used to fight corruption. There was a live tweet component of the program that allowed the outside audience to join in the conversation and ask questions.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Young People Also Talk About Corruption

Today we heard from young people their views on corruption.  At Government Secondary School Wuse, U.S. Speaker on anti corruption Peter Ainsworth interacted with students from public schools in Abuja on corruption, particularly how it affects them. 

The first question Mr. Ainsworth asked the students was their definition of corruption.  Answers included the following:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Fight Continues

Today is the second day of the U.S. Embassy hosted program on anti-corruption.  The Speaker, Peter Ainsworth, who is Senior Deputy Chief for Litigation - Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division in the Department of Justice, was at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.  There he interacted with members of the faculty lead by Head of Academics, Bob Osamor.

Just as in his interaction with civil society, Mr. Ainsworth emphasized that fighting corruption is a continuous process and hope must never be lost.   He said, although systems and approaches in the U.S. and Nigeria may differ, the goal is still the same and that is to successfully enforce anti-corruption laws as deterrence for future behavior.  As simple as this goal seems, achieving it is not simple at all and the U.S., after working on this for two hundred years still makes mistakes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Fight Against Corruption is Continuous Commitment

This week the U.S. Embassy, Abuja, is hosting an anti-corruption program with U.S. Speaker Peter Ainsworth.  Peter Ainsworth is Senior Deputy Chief for Litigation - Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division in the Department of Justice.  His section investigates and prosecutes public corruption, election law, and conflicts of interest offenses nationally and internationally.  In addition he personally serves as lead attorney on high-profile matters handled by the Section.  One such high profile case is that of Rickie Scruggs, a highly influential, highly connected and rich Attorney in the State of Mississippi who tried to bribe Judge Henry Lackey, which Mr. Ainsworth used as a case study in his interaction with civil society groups this morning at the National Center for Women Development in Abuja.  The program was put together in collaboration with the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Something Special in Worcester

On a recent training trip to the United States, I visited the city of Worcester in the state of Massachusetts. With a population of about 180,000, this former manufacturing hub is today a center of excellence for higher education, healthcare and medical research.  While there is a lot going on in Worcester, most notably the various attempts to reinvent the city, what I found more interesting were the programs offered for young people.  My training colleagues and I interacted with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Y.O.U. Inc (Youth Opportunities Upheld) and visited a youth center, all of them with   an overall goal to groom their youth into mature, well adjusted, responsible and productive members of the community.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Do Your Part!

This week, we celebrate creativity and innovation by marking both World Book and Copyright Day (April 23) and World Intellectual Property Day (April 26).  This year’s theme for World Intellectual Property Day is Creativity: The Next Generation.  And for the next World Book and Copyright Day, in 2014, UNESCO has named Port Harcourt the “World Book Capital of the Year.”  This honor provides Nigerians with the opportunity to celebrate its writers, encourage reading among youth, and promote the UNESCO principles of freedom of expression, freedom to publish, and freedom to distribute information.

Fulbright Scholar Explores Justice, Youth, Outdoors Across Nigeria

Fulbright scholar Erica Licht is not content to experience the world through the perceptions and stereotypes of others.  Whether through teaching yoga to at-risk youth, traveling by bus to Enugu to lead an anti-violence workshop, or strolling through Lagos Island to observe community policing efforts, Licht’s work in Nigeria aims to engage minds and challenge common perceptions on youth, justice, community and the outdoors.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What is Jazz?

Simply answered, jazz means different things to different people. To Thelonius Monk, jazz is a spontaneous musical conversation among the musicians performing it.  To the father of modern jazz, Charlie Parker, it is a blend of all different styles of music resulting in an intellectual endeavor and not just a form of popular entertainment.

For me, jazz is a complex language, one that communicates passion and coolness, emotion and common sense, intellect and simplicity and one you need to study to understand.  To me jazz is a musical language waiting to be recorded.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You can do it

Becoming an entrepreneur is a very difficult task, especially in a developing country like Nigeria, where businesses have to deal with huge challenges - lack of basic infrastructure, hindered access to capital and other issues - which other parts of the world take for granted.   It is even more challenging for women who have to deal with these impediments in addition to managing their homes in a very conservative environment.  To encourage upcoming young women entrepreneurs the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy put together an interactive session.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ten Pictures

I attended a book reading event recently.  The plan was to come in, take about ten pictures and the event is covered. I’d never met or heard about the female poet and author, who was scheduled for this event, organized by the U.S. Embassy Resource Center, Abuja.  Like me, most of the audience did not know what to expect, while the few that have experienced her before had this anticipatory smile that seemed to say, “You guys don’t know what you are about to witness, but you will surely be blown away...”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dance is Serious Business

Nigerians love to dance.  Just attend any wedding, naming ceremony, thanksgiving etc and you’re sure to be entertained with numerous dance styles.  Dancing is fun and entertaining, but it could also be a very rewarding professional career.  It is for Chris Thomas (YungChris) and James Colter (Cricket), two U.S. hip hop dancers that visited Nigeria recently to share their experience.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Observations of U.S. elections

Free and fair elections are central to a successful democracy as are a strong constitution, free press, rule of law, equal justice and respect for human rights.  Nigeria’s return to democratic rule was greatly celebrated and the past thirteen years has raised hopes that it has come to stay.  However, democracy is not without its challenges and even those as old as the United States are a work in progress.

During the U.S. Presidential elections in November some young Nigerians had the opportunity to observe how elections are conducted in the U.S.  It was an exciting time for the young Samson Itodo and Blossom Nnodim, who recently shared their observations of the U.S. elections at a roundtable in Abuja.  Some of their observations include the following:

Monday, February 18, 2013

4 Feats of Awesomeness by Obscure U.S. Presidents

President’s Day is a holiday that many Americans associate with used car dealers offering “CRAAAAAAZY DEALS!”  It was originally meant to honor the birthday of the founder of our nation, George Washington, and later it expanded to more generally honoring some of our most recognized presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or James K. Polk.  What?  Not familiar with the populist presidential portents of Polk?  Sounds about right, so let’s turn our attention to some feats of awesomeness performed by some of America’s lesser known commanders in chief.

4)  William Henry Harrison (1841)
Terms:  1/45th
Win/Loss Record:  1-1
Party Affiliation:  Whig
Feat of Awesomeness:   Established Rules for Presidential Succession

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Zero Tolerance

I had a shocking experience several years ago noticing a neighbor’s young daughter would constantly cry in the morning while her mother was bathing her.  Upon inquiry, the young girl’s senior sister casually told me in Hausa that “An yi mata kachiya ne” (she had a circumcision).  To say I was shocked by what I heard is an understatement.  I could not believe my ears.  I had heard about such practices but thought they had long been stopped.  When I asked my mother about it, she told me it is alive and still practiced in certain communities.  Further inquiries showed the principal reason given in most cultures for this practice is “to prevent the girl from becoming promiscuous” while others regard it as an important rite of passage.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day of Service

The inauguration of President Barack Obama for his second term was extra special because it coincided with the day that is observed as public holiday to commemorate the birthday of famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  His birthday is also a day of service.  On this day Americans engage in different acts of service in their community, a reflection of an important American value - that of volunteerism

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Inauguration of a President

The inauguration of a President represents an important symbol of democracy in the United States, as the President will publicly swear that:
“ I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
When written, this oath was revolutionary because the President swears their allegiance not to a country or an individual, but instead to the ideas of the United States Constitution—democracy, federalism, and the separation of powers.  The President is stating he is bound to the rules outlined in the Constitution and it is his job to protect and enforce this document.

Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Fanatics of American Football

In the US, the holidays have come and gone, the Superbowl is approaching, and Americans en masse  turn their collective attention to that most unique of sports—American football.  For citizens of many countries, the American fixation with football can seem strange.  Why do so many Americans share a love of watching hulking men form lines and bash into each other while slightly less hulking men toss, run, or kick a ball downfield?  What motivates grown men to stand in sub-Arctic temperatures shirtless, fully painted and wearing funny hats?  And who are these fanatics that turn every Sunday afternoon in America into a feast of chicken wings, beer, and pork rinds?  To answer this and many more questions, we will consider 5 American football fans in all their glory.