Ambassador Odembo's visit was the first in Regent's Office of Global Affairs Ambassador Series, which brings diplomats to Regent for personal interaction with faculty, staff and students to provide global insights for academia, community service and career growth.
"Regent's mission is to educate global leaders, and part of that education involves providing opportunities for our students to interact with global leaders," said Dr. Sergio Matviuk, executive director of the Office of Global Affairs.
|His Excellency, Elkanah Odembo, ambassador |
to the United States from the
Republic of Kenya, speaks at Regent.
One of the highlights of the ambassador's visit was his presentation to more than 150 students from Regent, Tidewater Community College, several private high schools and seven of Virginia Beach's public high schools, including Princess Anne's International Baccalaureate program and Tallwood's Global Studies Academy.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Odembo focused on Kenya's efforts in economic development. He noted that Kenya is taking a lead role to strengthen regional economic communities so that African nations do more business with each other, do more business globally and uplift the entire continent. Kenya, which has the strongest economy in east Africa, is looking for more companies to join the many companies with a large presence there, including GE, IBM and Coca-Cola.
He also talked about the nation's major investments in education, which is critical because Kenya has a very young population who need appropriate educational opportunities to become productive citizens.
Odembo openly addressed the challenges in the "horn of Africa," which has been a fairly unstable region due to problems in countries such as Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan. He pointed out Kenya's role in promoting peace and security, such as assisting a transitional government in Somalia and helping to support a refugee camp in Kenya—the largest in the world—that has about 600,000 people living in an area designed for 60,000. "Across the board, changes are happening in Kenya and in Africa," he said. "In governance, leadership and economic development—very important things are happening."
Students demonstrated good knowledge of issues in Africa, as they posed questions to the ambassador on topics including Kenyan government policies to promote investment, U.S. policy toward Kenya and Africa, managing the challenge of ethnic tension in the region, and Kenya's new constitution, which was adopted in 2010.
Odembo has held senior-level positions at philanthropic and non-governmental organizations in east Africa for more than two decades, advocating for human rights and social justice. Before his appointment as ambassador to the U.S. in June 2010, he previously served as Kenya's ambassador to France. He has a bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College and a master's degree from the University of Texas.
Learn more about Regent's global activities.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888