Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by
Ambassador Christopher J. Lamora
2022 Cameroon Alumni National Symposium Opening Ceremony
Yaounde National Congress Hall
April 21, 2022
- Mounouna Foutsou, Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education,
- Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family
- Honorable Members of Government,
- Dear Alumni,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m pleased to join you today for the first Cameroon Alumni National Symposium. It’s my honor to meet such a distinguished group, alumni of U.S. government exchange programs and leaders in almost every field imaginable. And, after so many months of virtual programs, it’s truly special to see all of you here in person.
I’d like to express my gratitude to Minister Mounouna Foutsou and distinguished guests from the government, business, press, and civil society. And I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association for organizing this event, and to our keynote speaker Christian Achaleke.
Distinguished guests, the United States is a longtime friend and partner of Cameroon. Our partnership spans many areas, including health, trade and business growth, humanitarian assistance, the fight against piracy, human trafficking, and terrorism, and of course academic collaboration.
We are dedicated to partnering with Cameroonians like yourselves to build a more secure, prosperous, and just future for both of our countries. We must all work together to address many of the complex challenges of our time, whether it’s climate change, economic growth, food insecurity, or instability.
One of the many ways we demonstrate our commitment to Cameroon is through our exchange programs. As many of you can attest, exchanges are often life-changing experiences, building networks and mutual understanding between Americans and Cameroonians. Exchanges also create opportunities for participants to share a diverse range of perspectives on how to address many of the challenges that our societies are facing.
We live in an interconnected world and there is much to learn from each other, not only between Americans and Cameroonians, but also among Cameroonians. Like the United States, Cameroon is a diverse country with diverse ideas on how to make this country and our world a better place.
One of the objectives of this symposium is to break down what Americans often call silos or stovepipes between fields of expertise, as well as between generations.
You should see yourselves as some of Cameroon’s finest minds, a network of problem solvers who can bring holistic and innovative solutions to many of the complex global challenges, which are complex in part because they transcend academic and professional disciplines.
More than 2,000 Cameroonians have participated in U.S. government exchanges, including:
- Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute
- Minister Delegate in the Ministry of External Relations, Felix Mbayu
- Minister of Secondary Education, Nalova Pauline Lyonga
- Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development Alamine Ousmane Mey
- Minister of Labor and Social Security, Gregoire Owona
- Djaili Amadou Amal
- Charles Ndongo
- Marilyn Douala Bell
- Christian Achaleke
- Maximilienne Ngo Mbe
- Alice Nkom
- And so many of you gathered here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On an almost daily basis, we hear stories of exchange alumni working individually or collectively to address the challenges of their communities. To cite just a few examples, the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program Alumni Association project “Protecting Internally Displaced Women from Abusive Arrests” educated communities on the corrosive effects of abuse and violations of women’s rights, while helping document the civil status of 300 internally displaced women and girls in the Southwest Region.
The YALI Alumni Association project “Combating Bribery and Corruption through Youth Actions for Ethical Leadership in Cameroon” has reached thousands of students around Cameroon, enhancing their ability to identify and speak out against corrupt practices in schools.
Through this symposium, we sincerely hope that you listen to each other’s stories and find ways to work together to build the more peaceful, just, and prosperous societies that we all seek.
And please consider the U.S. Embassy as a partner in your efforts. Feel free to reach out with your project ideas, apply for our funding opportunities, and use our American Center in Yaoundé and our libraries in Buea, Douala, and Garoua.
I look forward to visiting you and seeing your projects as I travel around Cameroon. I am grateful for this opportunity to be with you today and to celebrate all the work that you do.
On est ensemble.