On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde welcomed 25 youth who participated in a youth exchange program led by Pan Africa Youth Leadership Program (PAYLP) alumnus Nsoh Nde Fofang. The Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program event was held at the James Baldwin Information Resource Center (IRC) and was titled “Learning to Code with SCRATCH.” The exchange supported goals established by PAYLP alumni to share their experiences during their visit to the United States in July 2015. See Facebook album: https://www.facebook.com/yaounde.usembassy/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10157317015810716.
During his presentation, Nsoh Fofang described SCRATCH as a free language program language where members can create their own interactive stories and share with others in the online community. “This program is unique and helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and to work collaboratively as a team, which are essential skills for life in the 21stcentury.” He also shared his impressions of the United States and said that one of the most rewarding experiences was meeting fellow African youth who shared a commitment to contributing to their own countries and expanding their own engagement with youth from around the world focused on education and ideas.
Welcoming the participants, Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II lauded Cameroon for embracing Information Communications Technology (ICT) in all sectors with the goal to expand further. “We are proud that Nsoh Nde Fofang is leading today’s programs. It is a testament to the fact that we encourage Cameroonians to lead these exchanges with their fellow youth and share their experiences in the United States. Nsoh has become an ICT expert and we welcome the fact that all of you are enthused to participate and share your own expertise with each other today. Cameroonians understand that ICT is essential to promote development and education, and to expand access to real facts and information in journalism as well as in academia. The United States seeks to support those Cameroonian goals by providing youth access to the internet at our Information Resource Center at the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde and American Corners in Garoua and Buea. This nation has expanded access to information, and one of the results of this commitment is seen in our own Facebook page, which has increased over the past two years alone from 5,000 followers to over 112,000 followers. Most of them are here in Cameroon, so therefore the youth are gaining faster access to the internet and education than ever before. People are connected in an instant across the world, and humankind has unprecedented opportunities to engage across borders, cultures, and languages. The world has become indeed smaller, as President Obama has said, and this is an opportunity for you to seize to further your own education. As you embark on accomplishing your goals, know that the United States stands with you, and we exhort you to offer your greatest talents and contributions to Cameroon’s development in partnership with your fellow citizens from all sectors.”
American Mr. Gary Myers also spoke to the youth about how attaining an education was a central theme of the Civil Rights movement in the United States during the 1960’s as established by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The very first step towards success begins in the classroom, or your own reading of books and quest for information. Dr. King understood that principle through personal experience, and ensured that the African American and minority communities understood that one of the keys to success was educating our minds,” said Mr. Myers.
IRC Director Mathias Tientcheu and Reference Librarians Mabel Foncham-Chingang and Edna Enyeji held a practical session where Nsoh and a group of volunteers assisted the participants in creating their own animations. U.S. Embassy intern Dominick Tanoh discussed his experiences as an American college student, and encouraged participants to establish more stable sense of self, become engaged in their communities, and think of themselves as global citizens. The program concluded with the awarding of certificates to participants by Mr. Quiroz.
To learn more about PAYLP, please see: http://www.meridian.org/programs/paylp/.