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Ghana Establishes Okayama University International Alumni Association Branch

On August 5, 2016, past students of Okayama University from Ghana and some invited guests held an inaugural ceremony to officially establish the Ghana Branch of Okayama University International Alumni Association (OUIAA). Present at the ceremony were 20 attendees with nearly half being Okayama University alumni from Ghana, three (3) officials from Okayama University, Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Ghana, Legon and a representative each from Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), Ghana, the Scholarship Secretariat, Ghana and the Secretary of the Ghana Alumni of Japanese Universities.

In addressing the gathering, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the VC of University of Ghana, who is also a Japanese trained scholar, welcomed the attendees to the ceremony and expressed the desire and hope for stronger collaboration between Japanese Universities and their Alumni. He mentioned that lack of stronger bonds between Japanese trained and their former universities has compelled many alumni to look elsewhere such as China, Germany, USA, etc. for collaborations, which eventually downplays the benefit Japanese Universities could have derived from their former students. He therefore hoped the establishment of the OUIAA, Ghana Branch would foster more collaborations especially between Okayama University and the University of Ghana in the areas of research, exchange of knowledge, culture and other fields.

On his part, the President of Okayama University, Professor Morita Kiyoshi hoped that the establishment of the Okayama University Alumni Association would help attract alumni to contribute to the development of the university and its long term strategy of attracting more international students and collaborations. The Chairperson of the OUIAA, Professor Zhang Hong mentioned that there were 50 alumni branches targeted to be opened by the end of the year and Ghana’s Branch was the 48th in the world and the first in West Africa. Professor Hong was glad that the opening of the Ghana Branch would lead to a better collaboration between Okayama University and universities that alumni are serving as well as build better Japan-Alumni’s country friendships.

Mr. Joseph Essah, a representative of the Scholarships Secretariat of Ghana, expressed gratitude to Japan for offering scholarships to Ghanaian students to study in Japan. He further mentioned that 35 students had been shortlisted and recommended to the Japanese government for the Monbukagakusho (MEXT) scholarships to pursue various academic and research trainings in universities and technical colleges in Japan. Reiterating Mr. Essah’s gratitude, the Interim President of OUIAA, Ghana Branch, Dr. Stephen Abenney-Mickson, also thanked the Japanese government and its people for global human resource development initiatives which are implemented through various fellowships and scholarships offered to students from Ghana and other parts of the world to study in Japan. Alumni of Japanese Universities, including Ghanaians, who benefitted from such opportunities, have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of their home countries. Despite the positive impact Okayama University Alumni have had on the society of Ghana, there are still lack of trained professionals in the fields of Medicine, Business and Law from the university. He, therefore, called on the President of Okayama University and the Chairperson of the Alumni Association to make scholarships available to Ghanaian students to study in their Medical, Law and Business Schools.

Following these official addresses were optional speeches from alumni who shared their experiences in Japan and after returning home. While some alumni expressed joy in still relating nicely with their former professors, others indicated that they hardly got response when they sent emails or made contacts to their former professors. Dr. Akudago observed that many former Professors were on retirement and alumni no longer had any strong bond in Okayama University. Therefore, he called for the Graduate School or Laboratories to pass on names of former students to incoming professors to monitor the progress of the former students.

In conclusion, the ceremony was a success, and we would like to express our profound gratitude to the President of Okayama University and his team, Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana and all other invited guests for gracing the occasion with their presence. We are also grateful to all alumni for your individual and collective efforts for making the Ghana Branch of the OUIAA a reality. Our special thanks go to all Dr. Larry Pax Chegbeleh, Dr. Patrick Sakyi, Prof. Samuel Dampare, Prof. Daniel Asiedu, Prof. Robert Adaboh, Dr. Stephen Abenney-Mickson and Dr. John Akudago for going the extra mile to have the Branch inaugurated. The Ghana Branch also acknowledges with many thanks the various roles played by Ms. Keiko Hirai of the International Office of Okayama University, Professors Tsugio Shibata and Makoto Nishigaki (both retired Professors of Okayama University) in the establishment of the Ghana Branch of the Okayama University International Alumni Association (OUIAA).