Friday, December 16, 2016

If you must fail, fail forward

How do you start over when a bakery in which you have invested so much—time, money, passion—is  demolished in a twinkle of an eye. How do you start over when on three occasions you have been forced, by a breach in contract and social crises, to start over an operation that you had 70 percent completed? How do you start over when the available power supply is not enough to power the machines at your manufacturing company? These are the stories of three young Nigerian entrepreneurs—Muna  Okam, CEO of Chloe’s Cupcake Heaven, Amal Hassan, CEO of The Outsource Company; and Ibrahim Bashir, an IT professional and marketing and business development manager at Abuja Technology Village Free Zone Company—who are failing forward.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Long Way There……

November 14-18 was international Education Week and Amaechi Abuah member of the U.S. Embassy Education USA Center wrote this article in celebration of the week.

I remember dozing lightly as the bus rolled across lush green hills and past glassy clear lakes. It was Day 4 of the International Physics Olympiads and all around me some of the brightest brains from across the planet were settling into various states of boredom-induced slumber. On a screen in front of the bus, some television scientist had been discovering the Higg’s Boson… again… and again … and again… for the past three hours. We were headed from the city of Zurich to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva to witness the magnificence of the Large Hadron Collider first-hand. It was a five hour drive, and we still had a long way to go.

Friday, November 18, 2016

My Once in a Lifetime Golden Opportunity

by Anthonia Bisola Abayomi-ojo 

On 23rd march, I got the phone call to congratulate me on my selection as a 2016 Mandela Washington fellow. I must have said thank you more than 10 times. I was totally euphoric.
I had chosen the civic leadership track and my fellowship was at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The first two weeks of the program focused on US culture, leadership skills development, human rights and writing elevator and ignite speeches. I never knew I could summarise my work in 1 minute. For me, this one of the most vital skills I learned.

Week 3 and 4 were on religion, mindful and ethical leadership and business and entrepreneurship. I learned how to make ethical decisions that might not be popular but reflect my integrity.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A University Without Borders

By Edem Dorothy Ossai

Applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship of the U.S. government has closed.  As we anticipate results enjoy stories from this year’s cohorts on their experience.

The first thing that struck me about Arizona State University was that there were no boundary walls separating the campus from the rest of the community. Right behind the law building stood the very cosmopolitan Sheraton Hotel, next to the impressive Walter Cronkite school of Journalism stood the grand Arizona Science Centre. Also a few blocks from the University student centre stood the tall glass offices of Goldman Sachs and McKinsey. I had never encountered a University without walls or borders and so I had been in the ASU Downtown Campus in Phoenix, Arizona, for well over 10 minutes without realising. It wasn’t until we got to the front of an attractive student dormitory building called Taylor Place, which would be my home for the next 6 weeks that I suddenly understood. At that point I looked at the cab driver and escort with surprise and asked “when did we go through the university gates?”

Friday, October 21, 2016

EducationUSA: Providing Opportunities

Cross section of participants
during the graduate fair
It is sunrise in Abuja with the skies resplendent in white and blue. Looking at my wristwatch, it is almost nine, and my anxiety concerning the event hit me. As I paid attention to the gate and waited for students to come through the entrance, the admissions officers from different schools in the U.S. arrived, pulling out their trifold and other materials for the fair. Before I could look around, students from all types of schools, with different colors of uniforms arrived and were already signing in. The sight of them took me down memory lane as I recalled my own brown and white high school uniform.

Friday, August 26, 2016

‘Sowing Seeds for Recovery’ in Northeast Nigeria

Aisha M. receives her share of seeds to be planted in
Gombi, Nigeria.
GOMBI, Nigeria: Aisha was home with her husband and children the day they heard that that Boko Haram was coming. The family left the village that same day, taking only what they could carry.

“We managed to escape to the mountains,” Aisha recalled later. “But many of my relatives who didn’t leave soon enough were killed.”

Three years later, Gombi and communities like it in northern Adamawa state remain devastated. All that’s left of Aisha’s house is a charred heap of collapsed concrete and corrugated tin. Any food is long gone. Farm fields are strewn with debris. Home for thousands of families is little more than space on the floor of a host neighbor’s house.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Explaining U.S. Elections

Cultural Affairs Officer Robert Kerr addressing Nigerian
 Turkish Nile University students
The U.S. presidential election is followed in Nigeria with some excitement, but also confusion.  The excitement comes from the volume of media coverage it enjoys, the fact that whatever happens in the United States affects many other countries, and also that the contestants are usually major players in the global space.  This year’s election has been a huge media spectacle with an estimated $10 billion spent on advertisements and the major players enjoying cult-like followership.

Representing Nigeria well

Tolu Alabi is a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa.  She is a recipient of the Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship.  Joseph Ekpenyoung studied math at Bates College in Maine and is now giving back by teaching math at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa.  Daniel Akuma attended Kenyon College in Ohio and got accepted into the top eight medical schools in the United States.

What is common among these three young Nigerians?  They are all beneficiaries of the Opportunity Fund Program, popularly referred to as EducationUSA Achievers Program (EdSAP) of the U.S. Embassy Abuja.  The program assists highly qualified but low-income students to finance upfront costs of obtaining admission into U.S. universities with full financial aid.  One common feature of all three is that they went to public schools, including Federal Government Academy Suleja and Model Secondary school.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Guitar virtuoso Stephane Wrembel Concerts in Lagos - June 27-30

The U.S. Mission to Nigeria is proud to bring you - from America by way of France – guitar virtuoso Stephane Wrembel next week! Wrembel, joined by co-guitarist Thor Jensen, will perform in Lagos, June 27-30.

 Among many achievements, the Brooklyn-based Wrembel composed the score for the 2012 Academy Award winning film Midnight in Paris, and appeared live on The Oscars 2016: 88th Academy Awards ceremony telecast. Wrembel learned his craft among Gypsies in the French countryside, and is expanding on his many other influences to make a mark as an original guitar voice in contemporary music. His musical accomplice, Thor Jensen, is also a longtime student of jazz, including the music of Django Reinhardt, and rock and roll.

 Wrembel and Jensen will take the concert stage with Nigeria’s own powerhouse collective Prudence, in these venues:

  •  June 27: SPAN Jazz Academy Masterclass, 10:00 am (By Invitation only)
  •  June 28: MUSON Center, Agip Recital Hall, 6:00 pm (Open to the public)
  •  June 29: University of Lagos, Main auditorium, 5:30 pm (Open to the public)
  •  June 30: Classic FM 97.3: streaming live at, 9:00 am 
Read Stephane’s complete biography, please click the link:
Watch one of his live performances via the link below:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The America You Don’t See on CNN

Anytime I think of the United States, what comes to my mind are the following: a beautiful and charming country where skyscrapers surrounds the cities and towers are used as fences, a country where children don’t see sand except in their school labs, a country where everyone has equal opportunities and poverty is not an issue, a country without challenges, a country filled with milk and honey flowing all over the streets for everyone to savor.  This is what CNN and Hollywood show us.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mentoring Future Journalists

IVLP Alumni L-R Lydia Samson and Evelyn Onyilo
One of the founding fathers of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, stated, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” This quote underscores the role of the press in the development of a healthy democratic process. To encourage young people to aspire for a successful career in journalism, the Abuja chapter of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni Association organized a mentoring program for young Nigerians at the U.S. Embassy. Media personalities, who benefited from the IVLP, including distinguished journalists Evelyn Onyilo and Lydia Samson, led the conversation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

“To Kill a Mockingbird”

Every month, students and staff of EducationUSA Advising Center Abuja select, read, and meet to discuss a particular book. The book for the month of March was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The Pulitzer Prize winning book is one of the books recommended for college-bound students in the United States. A coming-of-age novel, it borders around the reasoning behind human behavior, innocence, justice systems, and racial issues.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Haute Hijab

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan to immigrant parents, Melanie Elturk found it challenging at times to fuse her Islamic culture with Midwestern American norms.  “Try finding a long sleeve shirt in a store during the summer in the United States.  It can be difficult to dress modestly,” she shared.  As an adult, she wanted to support young Muslim girls in their desire to fully identify as Muslim and American.  Her desire gave birth to Haute Hijab.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Non- Immigrant Visas: The Consular Officer’s Perspective

My colleagues and I are very aware of the stress and preparation that applicants go through before their non-immigrant visa interview.  We interact with applicants at outreach events and through Internet-based communication tools.  However, the applicants do not have a chance to view the process through our perspective and in an attempt to correct some of the misinformation that has infiltrated the Internet, here is my perspective on the U.S. visa application process.

Friday, March 4, 2016

“I Have a Dream” Through the Eyes of Abuja Students

High schools students in Abuja were tasked with interpreting the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King as part of activities celebrating his life.  And they did it with a bang.  The students drawn from ten high schools in the federal capital put up various performances to showcase their talent.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hallowed Grounds

It’s Black History Month.  “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American memories” is the theme for this year.  Announcing it, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History said, “The history of African Americans unfolds across the canvas of America, beginning before the arrival of the Mayflower and continuing to the present.  From port cities where Africans disembarked, from slave ships to the battlefields where their descendants fought for freedom, from the colleges and universities where they pursued education to places where they created communities during centuries of migration, the imprint of Americans of African descent are deeply embedded in the narrative of the American past.  These sites prompt us to remember, and over time, became hallowed grounds.”

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley

The 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) will be held in Silicon Valley (the San Francisco Bay Area, California) on June 22-24, 2016. This strategic location highlights the important role that entrepreneurship plays in the U.S. economy, and also provides a unique platform to connect global entrepreneurs with prominent investors and mentors.