US-Sponsored Programs Alumni Exchange Ideas

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Jefyne Togba facilitating “Marketing Yourself”

 By Joaquin Sendolo

The United States Embassy near Monrovia has praised beneficiaries of education related programs sponsored by the U.S. Government and urged them to stay in contact with each other.

During a one day alumni conference the embassy organized for professionals and students who have attended U.S. Government sponsored programs in the United States, Paul Hinshaw, Public Affairs director at the U.S. Embassy, recalled how the beneficiaries of those programs have performed exceptionally well in their respective areas of study and occupation.

Hinshaw told participants that it is in the U.S. Government’s interest to see a stable Liberia, and a peaceful and transparent election that will lead to a smooth transition of power in 2018. He said the goal of the day was to get participants acquainted with one another and share their experiences from the various learning activities they had gone through in the United States.

There are several exchange programs at the U.S. Embassy from which many Liberians have benefited, including the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program, Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES), Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders, Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (otherwise Young African Leadership Initiative).  Others are the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Community Solution Program, Fulbright Visiting Scholar program, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and the Commitment to Africa Reporting Tour of the Foreign Press Center.

At the August 19 conference, participants attended lecture series on Marketing Yourself, Marketing Your Business, Getting Involved and Financial Literacy. “Marketing Yourself” was presented by Jefyne Togba, a marketing professional and founder of Career Expo Liberia. She particularly emphasized on how a person should prepare for job interviews or any other opportunity. Ms. Togba urged the participants to tell their stories without lies, make themselves relevant during an interview, articulate with enthusiasm, do research to know more about the group providing the opportunity or job, and present themselves in accordance with what the occupation requires.

At the conference, participants attended a series of lectures on various topics.

While she could not rule out biases that can sometimes cause people to be denied employment, Ms. Togba said many people can be the cause of their own failure, because they cannot concisely articulate their story to convince interviewers, adding that they narrate essays that make them sound as if they are reciting. Togba also urged participants not to look for jobs far from their career paths, but ones in which they, by their efficacy, can properly perform.

Eddie Jarwolo, executive director of the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE), lectured on “Getting Involved,” where he stressed the need for people to engage in community service and be part of problem solving in their various communities. He said failure to identify with community issues makes one an unknown person in the community, and in most instances this can badly affect the individual when he/she is confronted with problems.

Archel Bernard, a Liberian businesswoman and founder of the Bombchel Factory that warehouses fashion and carries out social entrepreneurship ventures, spoke on “Marketing your Business.” Ms. Bernard warned participants to engage in businesses that will have an impact on the community in which they operate, or get out of business if they make no impact, warning that if an entrepreneur cannot go along with the changes that are taking place in the business arena, such a person should also get out of business. She taught participants how to provide an “elevator pitch,” a concise statement an entrepreneur gives to introduce his or her business.

James Tarnue, CEO of iCount-Liberia, taught participants “Bookkeeping and Spending,” urging them to be conscious of making profit and spending less money. One of the participants, Dr. Roland Massaquoi, who attended the Fulbright Program in 1983, encouraged participants to make use of their achievements and be the best of what they want to be seen as.

Youth and Sports Assistant Minister Kula Fofana commended the U.S. Government for the programs organized to benefit Liberians and other Africans to help them develop their respective localities.

Minister Fofana, who is also a beneficiary of one of the programs, said the assistance provided by the U.S. Government to train Liberians in various fields of study is shaping the youth of the country for a better future.

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