Kenyan Ambassador Seeks Greater SIUE Connection

The Kenyan ambassador to the United States visited Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Friday in an effort to improve upon the long-standing relationship between his country and the University. Between 20 and 30 Kenyans graduate from SIUE annually.

Photo courtesy of the White House, Pres. Obama and Amb. Odembo

“We want to enhance our capacity, particularly in the areas of sciences,” said Ambassador Elkanah Odembo. “We are hoping we can develop some quick wins in terms of this partnership. The University is certainly keen for such a collaboration.”

Odembo attended a meeting with SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift and the deans of various SIUE schools and CAS. He says he hopes that the partnership could start with something like semesters abroad for  students and perhaps advance to a faculty exchange between SIUE and universities in Kenya.

There are ‘about 20 students from Kenya attending SIUE right now. “There’s a mix of students,” said International Student Recruiter Sandra Tamari. “There are some in CAS, some in nursing and some undergrads who are undeclared.”

Mafoya Dossoumon, a second year graduate student in public administration and policy analysis, says that, although he is from Benin, he was excited to see an official from any African country here. He’s interested in finding out what the ambassador has to say about incentives for students who study abroad who wish to return home.

“Even people who come here determined to study and go back home, when they get here and see all the wonderful things—in terms of how the system is set up here—if you really work hard here you will succeed. Which is not always the case back home,” Dossoumon said. “I am really looking forward to hearing from the ambassador—what does he have for people who really want to go home and help.”

Ambassador Odembo acknowledged that a brain drain can hurt any African country, but he says even those who chose to stay in the U.S. should stay in touch. “That is the whole idea, that they come (and) get a world-class education then come back home and be of service,” Odembo said. “Even if they choose to stay here (they should) continue to engage with home and make whatever contribution they can make to the development back home.”

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