Challenges, Growth and Opportunity: Nigerian Educator Visits MMS

Dr. Emmanuel Ivorgba, founder of the Creative Minds International Academy in Jos, Nigeria, recently visited Mount Madonna School (MMS) and spoke with 11th and 12th grade students. Ivorgba was in California being honored by the Dalai Lama with an Unsung Heroes of Compassion award.

‘We were fortunate enough to get to spend the morning with him,’ commented Shannon Kelly, of the teachers of the Values in World Thought social studies class. ‘Emmanuel has dedicated his life to trying to create peace and goodwill in Nigeria, a country riddled with violence due to religious, political and social conflict. We found our time with him to be truly inspiring.’

Following their two and a half hour conversation, students reflected on the meeting:

‘It is easy to fall under the spell of dreaming the impossible, doing things that no one else has and changing the world in a massive way. Emmanuel reminded me of what it means to be a part of humanity; we rely on one another to work together to build the world around us. Big changes do not happen all at once. Small changes create the path that leads to the final ‘hurrah, the great triumph that will make a difference.” — Lexi Julien, 11th grade

‘Emmanuel believes that teaching ‘values’ is a way to improve society. He wants his students to have educated hearts more than anything. His goal is to help the youth in Nigeria find their purpose. He wants everyone to find fulfillment. He said, ‘If you are alive, you have a purpose’.’ — Cassie Caborn, 11th grade

‘One of the first things Emmanuel said that really caught my attention was, ‘Challenges are opportunities for goodness to emerge.’ He explained the challenges that his school was going through. There are many conflicts in Nigeria that affect the decision for students to remain in school. It is harder to pay for school and it is harder to create scholarships. Through these challenges Emmanuel chooses to see the growth and opportunity for better things to happen.’ — Preethi Balagani, 12th grade

Ivorgba currently serves as Executive Director of the New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation (NEEDCSI), a Nigeria-based nonprofit empowering youths in West Africa to emerge from a life on the streets, drugs and dysfunctional families, to becoming leaders capable of helping themselves and their communities. He is the Global Ethics Study Circle Coordinator for The Dalai Lama Foundation; West Africa Liaison for United Religions Initiative (URI); and a Council Ambassador to the U.S.-based Parliament of the World’s Religions; presenter of ‘Projecting the Real You Workshops’ and counseling sessions tailored to help people achieve their dreams and purpose. He has made contributions to human development in the fields of philosophy and religion, education for liberation, youth empowerment, interfaith dialogue and peace education, among others.

A student of and participant in Project Happiness since 2006, Ivorgba became Program Director for the African continent in 2011. In 2007, with the support of friends from MMS, Project Happiness and The Dalai Lama Foundation, he founded CMIA, a co-educational school.


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Marketing & Communications, [email protected]

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.