US mission marks 75th anniversary of Fulbright programme
The US Consulate in Lagos on Saturday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright programme, the flagship international educational exchange initiative sponsored by the U.S. Government.
The Fulbright Programme was established in 1946, under legislation introduced by late Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas and currently operated in over 160 countries. The programme awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to US and foreign students and young professionals to study and conduct research. US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, said the programme, the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the world, was designed specifically to promote peace through dialogue. According to Pierangelo, the Fulbright programme is not only an integral part of the U.S. mission’s activities, but most importantly, a foundational part of how international bilateral partnerships and shared priorities are sustained.
“We sometimes forget that Senator Fulbright was a very forward-thinking man, who was shocked at the state of the world in the 1960s. ”He then created this scholarship programme as a way to foster communication, relationships and to build peace in the world.
“Through the programme, students are able to expand and strengthen the diversity of educational institutions that they come from while also developing lifelong friendships. “I encourage scholars to keep giving back to communities through alumni activities,” she said. The Consul General also urged scholars to upscale the Fulbright recruitment mentorship across Nigerian universities, to help the mission support stronger candidates in the fields of Arts and Social Sciences.
She said that most of the applications received yearly were sciences inclined, adding that it was remarkable, but expansion was needed in other areas. “In order to upskill these activities, I encourage you to look for sources of funding from local and international partners. ”Also push for their implementation across Nigerian institutions in the areas of education, youth empowerment, prevention of s*xual harassment and substance abuse,” she said. President, Fulbright Alumni Association in Nigeria, Adele Garkida, stressed the importance of maintaining the network, adding that the impact of the programme on advanced research was second to none.
Garkida, an Associate Professor, said the association was focused on mentoring prospective scholars to increase the number of awardees who would give back to society.
“I am one of those who have benefitted from this programme. As an association, we involve ourselves in mentoring at our local bases yearly to improve on the number of participants and also the quality of their application.
“Because of this, over the years, we conduct our annual conference between February, March or April to coincide with the time for the application process,” she said. Garkida was the first to acquire a PhD in Glass Technology from a Nigerian university and the pioneer Head of Department, Glass and Silicate Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Also, a Fulbright scholar and Professor of Business and Economics, Steve Onyeiwu, said he was excited to return to Nigeria and support one of the universities.
Onyeiwu said he had been able to interact with post-graduate students at Covenant University and share experiences from the programme, while also supporting and mentoring them in the process of seeking opportunities in the US.
“It is exciting to have started doing what I promised in my Fulbright proposal which is to mentor Nigerian students and improve the capacity of the universities to deliver quality education to students. “I am impressed at not only how Nigerian youths are, but also how willing and eager they are to succeed. “I am grateful and thank the U.S. government for providing me the opportunity to contribute my quota to the education system in Nigeria,” he said. Onyeiwu is currently working on how technological innovation can be used to promote economic development in Nigeria.