Peace activist and educator Dr. Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba, founder of the Creative Minds International Academy (CMIA) in Jos, Nigeria, will be a special guest at Mount Madonna School (MMS) on Monday, February 4.
Ivorgba, who is the Africa Program Director for the Project Happiness organization, is visiting the United States on a bi-coastal speaking tour in conjunction with screenings of the Project Happiness film (in which he is featured), including presentations at Rollins and Valencia Colleges and Stanford University.
At MMS Ivorgba will meet with junior and senior students as part of their Values in World Thought classes, and then address all of the school’s middle and high school students during a special assembly. To wrap up his day at MMS, he will be welcomed by the preschool-kindergarten and visit elementary students.
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.
CMIA shares many similarities to MMS, including the same three pillars (academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development), a strong performing arts focus, and a Values in World Thought program which utilizes the same curriculum studied by MMS juniors and seniors.
In recent years, MMS high school students have collaborated with CMIA students on the topic of ‘ethicality,’ as part of the Ethics for the New Millennium high school curriculum, and a student governance group fundraised to collect $150 – the cost of a one year tuition scholarship for a child to attend CMIA.
“We have wanted to bring Emmanuel to the U.S. since we first met him during the filming of Project Happiness ,” comments Project Happiness Founder Randy Taran, “when the project brought together Emmanuel’s students with students from MMS and the Tibetan Children’s Village in India.”
Out of the initial 2007 meeting, several MMS families nurtured a special connection with Ivorgba, making a commitment to helping him secure resources and develop programs for CMIA. In 2007, the Frediani and Duvvoori families travelled to Jos and brought six laptops and an eGranary system.
“In Nigeria, one textbook costs the equivalent of $12,000 if you normalize for their salaries vs. the cost,” explains MMS science teacher Lisa Catterall (Catterall met Ivorgba a trip she made to visit CMIA in 2008). “The eGranary is a self-contained server containing over 20,000 textbooks worth of information. The families also brought some textbooks, and purchased a generator for them to use, as electricity is unreliable in their community. They networked the six laptops so that CMIA had a computer lab.”
“Emmanuel is a brilliant visionary that realizes the way to a better future isn’t just education of a new generation, but a peaceful, safe environment,” shares parent Shannon Frediani (Paul Crubaugh, ’05, Emily Crubaugh, ’07, and Joseph, 12th). “He works tirelessly with educators, faith leaders, other nonprofits and government officials, leaving no stone unturned to augment every facet of generating real change. I have never met a man with more energy, drive, commitment and heart. He is a great gift to his country and to everyone around him. He defies all of the stereotypes Americans have about Nigerians. Americans often don’t realize the amazing Nigerian individuals working in all sectors of their country to counter the poverty and oppression that has resulted in corruption.”
“After those families returned from Nigeria, I attended a presentation about his their involvement with MMS students and other faculty. Hearing about their efforts inspired me to organize a second trip,” recalls Catterall. “In 2008, we (Catterall, alumna Emily Crubaugh and then-senior Tessa Fischer) brought seven more laptops and added a network switch to expand the computer lab. In addition, we brought enough natural-light powered microscopes and supplies to start a non-electric science lab and trained their teachers to use them (it’s called the Mount Madonna Science Lab).
“In addition, MMS Preschool/Kindergarten Director, Sarojani Rohan sent along many Montessori activities to be used at the school. In Nigeria we took a trip to the local market to purchase more materials. We held a training and founded the first Montessori preschool in Nigeria at CMIA!
“Another gift shared with Ivorgba and CMIA, were solar cookers. In the months prior to departing for Nigeria in 2008, a group of MMS students fundraised to purchase solar cookers to donate and use at CMIA. “Once there, we held workshops with their students to look at this technology, as a fuel wood shortage has caused over 90% of Nigeria to be deforested. Some of their seniors looked-into starting a solar cooker manufacturing enterprise after our visit.”
“There are so many unique things about CMIA,” notes Catterall. “Jos sits on the border between the Christian south and the fundamentalist Muslim north of Nigeria. It is a site of frequent riots and violence; there is much corruption and religious intolerance. This makes Emmanuel’s work in teaching values extremely important there. There are many challenges: lack of funds, poor sanitation and facilities, language and cultural values, and of course, needing to work within an antiquated system of standards set-up during British rule. The progress and forward-thinking of Emmanuel and his school, I believe, could be the seed of change that West Africa desperately needs to grow out of its post-colonial turmoil.”
Ivorgba’s current projects include building a new school with a capacity for 1,500 students on land he purchased,” Frediani says. “He also hosts an annual international peace conference, and continues to work with educators on setting new policies. He never ceases to work on behalf of all Nigerians and a better future for all.”
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Media & Public Relations,
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.