Some Nigerian students will have to travel to Lebanon on an intensive course designed to broaden their world perspectives, as the Wole Soyinka Foundation partners with the Cedars Institute, Notre Dame University, Lebanon on an exchange programme.
The exchange programme will see four Nigerian students, selected by their faculties from universities across the nation, depart from Lagos tomorrow for Beirut, Lebanon. They are: Ibrahim Shuaibu from the Department of History and International Relations, Kwara State University; Zubair Lawal Bambale, Department of Philosophy, Ahmadu Bello University; Ajayi Olumuyiwa, a Ph.D. student of Policy and Strategic Studies, Covenant University, Ota and Dare Shoyemi-Obawanle, studying Environmental Geology at the University of Jos.
There they will unite with their peers from other countries in an intensive, interactive course on a syllabus designed to broaden their world perspectives. They will be introduced to a modern Middle-Eastern nation with a complex history, filled with scenic surprises, a rich and fascinating cultural heritage, and a long experience in conflict resolution through experiments in governance systems.
The exchange programme is under the Sail Project (Study abroad in Lebanon) and is being facilitated by Dr. Habib Jafaar, a biochemist by training.
At a news conference on Thursday in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Jafaar said the programme would benefit Nigerian students and expose them to international climes.
According to Mrs Folake Soyinka of the Wole Soyinka Foundation, the foundation felt privileged to have been invited to partner with Cedars in this project that is dedicated to cultural exchanges and international collaboration.
She explained that the programme would be in batches, with the first batch of five students ready to leave the shores of Nigeria to Lebanon on 27 August, 2016.
Folake stated that the exchange programme was meant for students in Nigeria universities and polytechnics, but noted that no participant from the polytechnics applied under the first batch, adding that initially, three slots were given to Nigerian students but later increased to five.
The partnership of the University of Notre Dame and Nigeria actually goes back some years, as one of its most memorable initiatives being an international Colloquium on the first anniversary of the death of Chinua Achebe, titled: “Honouring Chinua Achebe, a Lebanese-Nigerian Celebration.”
That event was presided over by the then Nigerian Ambassador Plenipotentiary, Amos Oluwole Idowu.
Among the presenters at that event were: Dr. Yusuf Rahme, founder and President of Cedars Institute; Dr. Guita Hourani, Director of the Emigration Research Centre, Notre Dame University and Dr. Edward Alam, Professor, Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. The two keynote addresses on “The Legacy of Chinua Achebe” were delivered by Professor Emenyonu, Chair of African Studies, University of Michigan, and Dr. Willy Fawole, Obafemi Awolowo University, while the Guest Speaker was Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus, Wole Soyinka.
Nigerian participation, both at that event and the commencing exchange programme, was facilitated by Dr. Jafaar.
According to Prof. Soyinka, “I am interested in the effort of the foundation to try and expose youthful minds to other culture of civilization.”
He said this was the first effort to participate in youthful exercise, saying that his foundation was invited to collaborate and to select some students to participate in the programme in Lebanon.
The Nobel laureate also decried the relegation of History as a subject in Nigerian schools, calling for its re-introduction.
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.