Cultural Affairs Assistant at the US Embassy Yaounde, Gerald L. Chilla, visits Open Dreams
Updated: Mar 12
On Saturday March 7th, 2020, Open Dreams Scholars, Program Facilitators and some secondary school teachers in Yaounde converged at the Open Dreams Center, Yaounde to receive a very resourceful and exceptional figure, Gerald L. Chilla, Cultural Affairs Assistant at the US Embassy Yaounde - Cameroon.
The excitement at the Open Dreams Center was at its peak as the Embassy official arrived. After the brilliant rendition of a welcome song and the Open Dreams anthem by the scholars, Mr. Chilla had an enriching presentation on the qualities we need to cultivate in order to achieve our academic and professional goals.
“Successful minds are not necessarily people with perfect grades but those with a vision; those who develop and apply their skills in productive ways which create value for the community to grow; those with leadership qualities who apply them to find solutions to community challenges.”
Pic: Attention to detail
This was how the august guest started his solemn insightful, compelling and very captivating empowerment talk that completely drew the attention of the listeners. His talk cut across the importance of continuous learning, upholding strong personal/ethical values, constantly self-examining to remain focused and steady on the path to achieving set goals and objectives in order to serve the wider public. He talked about the importance of promoting our culture and holding dear to what makes our identity unique.
He cited many practical, simple and contemporary cases from first hand experiences and packaged his profoundly inspirational message full of words of wisdom, in such a fatherly and sufficiently convincing way which made his points so easy to drive home and for us to understand and adopt as best practices for success. We could feel the compelling urge and energy as he fine-tuned practical strategies and while inducing the mindset that can empower everyone to fulfillment leading to transformed communities.
He went on to admonish us to take advantage of the many resources and personnel at Open Dreams to attain our goals and make a difference in the community. He applauded the non-conventional educational set-up Open Dreams has in place and amplified the role of such institutions in a fast-paced and rapidly changing world where competencies are in high demand.
Pic: Fun Moments
As we work our way to becoming local and international actors, he advised us to:
- developing effective communication skills to better express ourselves and be understood;
- participate in different activities; become engaged leaders in our communities;
- adopt the servant-leadership attitude; work on helping others out and in turn helping ourselves and thus serving the general good of all in the community;
-selflessly volunteering to tackle community challenges, creating value and providing solutions.
- be guided by a set of values which include humility, integrity, honesty, appreciation, generosity, readiness to make sacrifices to help out, determination etc; maintaining high integrity and holding tight to our most cherished values even when everyone else embraces ideas and actions which conflict with our convictions.
-define and develop our own goals and try different things, break tradition and find passion in our activities.
- dismiss the idea of transferring responsibility to the Hierarchy and take action to rescue situations at our level, when we have the ability and the power and the means to do so, without hanging on excuses or manifesting a care-free attitude, when we can indeed be of help or of service. For mobilizing local resources and harnessing our common strengths can cause us to break artificial barriers to accomplishment, he advised.
-take on challenges and participate in programs which develop critical thinking skills.
- develop the habit of giving back to the community, regardless of how little we have.
Scholars, Program Facilitators, Secondary School Teachers with Mr . Chilla
He also spoke on the attitude of many Cameroonians of being too general in the way of doing things and admonished us to learn to be more specific, critical and detailed, i.e. introducing numbers (data) in everything we do e.g. the number of hours we spend sleeping, trekking to school, eating etc. A time allocation for these activities presents a clearer picture of what we do with our time (accountability) and helps us to manage it better for efficiency.
He also stated that we should positively explore our past and present challenges, which have enabled us to develop resilience, to take the next step up and forward, with more confidence and determination while making good use of our network.
He went further to give other contributions to the development of the center, among them putting up pictures of great world icons on the walls, indulging in frequent sporting activities to keep the body and brain dynamic, visiting touristic sites and parks, participating in events around the city, etc For these activities contribute enormously to our personal development endeavors and widen our horizons.
He took some interesting questions from the audience and expounded on current challenges Cameroon is going through and how ethical leadership, which classifies truths not based on sympathetic inclination or affiliation to political ideologies, ethnicity, tongue etc can help us to be more accepting of our diversity and difference in opinion, listen to each other with respect and achieve understanding for peace and the ultimate good of all.
Dr. Armelle M. Houatchaing, a member of the Open Dreams Family interspersed with a presentation and interactive discussion on the Covid-19 virus, following the news of 2 new cases diagnosed in Cameroon.
Pic: Health Talk (Routine)
Souvenir Moment: Book Donation
The day ended with the handing over of a special donation from the US Embassy, of rich consignment of essential books (including new TOEFL Books with CDs) and didactic material, which will help Open Dreams Scholars and others with links to Open Dreams, through the college application process.
In attendance among others including one high-ranking state personnel were members of the Fulbright TEA Alumni, Feka Parchibell (Secretary), Nteta Philip (President) & James Akaba, Mengnjo Nives, Patience Tubuo who invest time in the Open Dreams mentorship program and also lead in the community by example.
Our special gratitude also goes to Will Romine, the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, for the book donation and for his previous visit to Open Dreams
Report by Yvette Chapjong & Eleih Elle Etian Jr, Open Dreams