Abuja – The Charge d’Affairs U.S. Embassy, Mr David Young, on Monday urged the participants of the 2017 Youth Exchange Study (YES) scheme to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and Nigeria.
Young, made the call on Monday in Abuja at the pre-departure orientation propgramme for 18 secondary school students from Nigeria who will travel to the U.S. on Tuesday.
According to him, the students who were selected from various schools from Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Bauchi were aged between 15 and 17.
“The programme targets Senior Secondary School students (SSS) who travel to the U.S. for one academic year and return to join their colleagues to complete their school certificate programme.
“Through this intense interaction over a prolonged period of time, students developed leadership skills, new friendship and a better understanding of America and its democratic way of life,”.
Young urged the students to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, adding that they were going to the U.S. to learn and interact with other students from other countries.
He urged them to help their American friends understand more about Nigeria and its culture.
“Try to focus on your study and learn about American culture which may be different from yours.
“You can help make a different in Nigeria when you come back, you should be able to make impacts among your people in your community and in Nigeria at large,” he said.
The Cultural Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy,Laurence Socha, said that the programme started in 2003 in Nigeria and over 300 students had benefited from it.
Socha said that the objective of the programme was to provide young Nigerian students from predominantly Muslim communities and those from historically disadvantage backgrounds an opportunity to enhance their understanding of American society.
According to him it is also to enable them understand American values and culture, its people and institutions.
The Nigerian Director for YES, Dr Saidu Yakubu, said that the students were selected through a rigorous competition among the some northern states secondary schools.
The programme he said was keenly contested by students from some stateswhich include kano,katsina,Gombe Plateau Taraba, Kebbi, and Kaduna.
He said that the best among them who scored 80 marks and above were chosen to participate in the final interview which was conducted by a resource person from the U.S.
“The student were actually picked from SS1 while they are preparing for SS2 class to enable them have their SS2 in the U.S.
“So that while they are back in Nigeria they would be able to write their final exams which is WAEC or NECO.
He commended the U.S government for the initiative which he said had been very helpful to the participants and their community whenever they returned.
“U.S government is really trying if they can spend more than 20,000 dollars on each student per year.
“I just want to appreciate the U.S. government for this kind of support because it had given the students a rare opportunity through education which they would never had got.
Miss Salima Umar from Bauchi, a former beneficiary of the programme said that it was an eye opener which gave her a boost in her career.
Mr Ibrahim Ezekiel another beneficiary and a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University said that the programme had helped him a lot.
He said that through the programme and in partnership with another beneficiary, he was able to build 20 bore holes in a community in Bauchi.(NAN)