During the course of a send-off ceremony for students of St Mary’s College organised in the form of an iftar at the Paradise Suites Hotel on Friday, officials of both institutions expressed the need to strengthen ties in major areas of development.
Dr Omar Jah, deputy vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia in a statement delivered on behalf of the vice-chancellor stated: “This is an occasion that we value because the relationship that we have built with St Mary’s College is strong and others who come from Baltimore joined us because of this relationship. I think when we mingle culturally; we will reduce the possibility of culture shocks and live in peace. Without us knowing each other, exchanging and understanding our world views, it will be difficult for us to live in peace and harmony. Regardless of the differences in colour, language and background, we have to learn to live in peace, be generous and wish each other well. As human beings, Islam teaches us to be generous and I think this farewell iftar is indicative of the generosity of the Americans, their accommodativeness and unique culture. When we [UTG staff] visited that country, we have seen a lot that we can gain out of that country some of which we have been getting through this programme.”
Dr Jah said that the mutual friendship that exists between the University of The Gambia and St Mary’s College is valued. He noted that the relationship has expanding and a lot of benefits have been derived from the student exchange programme.
“Professor Bill Roberts and I have worked for a long time and I think this type of collaboration is what is needed and valued. A lot of Gambian students are benefiting from this and most of them have demonstrated in Maryland that they can really make it. Also, American students who come to The Gambia have enjoyed similar feasts. We have learnt a lot from you and we want to assure you that it is not just going to stop here. Cultures need to be harmonised and it is our responsibility to make sure that we live in a better world. We have no right to mess up with this programme because since the beginning it has been yielding a lot of dividends. We have been gaining a lot out of this relationship and it is our responsibility as a university to make sure that we do all it takes to make this program a success. We have to sustain it and make it the envy of everybody. It is also important to commend the good job of the UTG students because they are the ones you mingle and interact with in your activities.”
Professor Bill Roberts, director of the Peace Programme said the initiative was all about peace and students who come to The Gambia from the United States have benefited a lot from the experience. He stated that many of them came here not knowing much about the country but have grown to love it in their own way.
“This time of the trip is always a little hard for me because I know I will be going back to the United States and taking back people who came here not knowing much about The Gambia but they have grown to love it in their own way. Most of them are sad because they are leaving but by the grace of God I will be coming back myself. Students from the University of The Gambia have contributed a lot in this programme and have always made me want to come back. I want to thank the leadership at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education as well as Gambia Senior Secondary School and Nusrat High School. We have been here this summer following the spring exchange programme. Education, health and archaeology have been the three major areas that we specialise in and this time we have been joined by students from Baltimore and we have been getting professors from the United States and The Gambia. We have also been working with students in the health sector and at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. Some of the students also teach in schools like Greater Banjul Upper Basic School and Bakau New Town Lower Basic School. Others have been working in The Gambia health Assessment Project for a number of years.”
Also speaking, Dr Yamai Secka-Jack, coordinator of the Peace Programme in The Gambia said there was need to strengthen relations between The Gambia and the United States. She stated that the most important stakeholders in the programme are the students of the University of The Gambia and St Mary’s College.
“It is through this programme that professors come from the United States to teach in The Gambia and overall, we have had 30 students this summer some of whom have gone home while others will also leave soon. They have been working together with students of the University of The Gambia in planning and implementing research and analysing data. Their lives have been changed forever and they will now have a wider understanding of the world. They will be able to make the world a better place and not just the United States. We want to thank you for trusting us and coming to The Gambia.”]]>