ABIDJAN – The United States Embassy today held its first conference in Côte d’Ivoire for alumni of cultural and educational exchange programs offered by the United States’ Department of State. More than 100 Ivoirian alumni representing leaders from business, government, media, science and education attended the March 18 event at the Palm Club Hotel. Ivoirian alumni have visited the United States on a variety of programs including the Fulbright, Humphrey, International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), Sports United, and President Barack Obama’s flagship program for Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), now known as the Washington Mandela Fellowship.
United States Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire Terence McCulley opened the event saying, “The United States is very proud of both the number and the quality of Ivoirians who have participated in one of our many exchange programs from all walks of life. We are particularly encouraged by the leadership roles played by so many of our alumni in Ivorian society, contributing to the improvement of the social, political and economic well-being of the country.”
The conference featured informational sessions on subjects such as the importance of social media, how to organize an alumni group, and how to apply for grant funds from the United States government to fund local programs. The overall purpose of the conference was to encourage alumni to network among each other and share their experiences with others. The keynote speaker of the event was Lex Paulson, an attorney, professor and consultant to UNICEF who spoke on the role civic organizations play in democratic societies. He spoke to the group via Skype from Paris.