By Nathaniel Sowou Djifa
Embassy Lomé’s public diplomacy section recently began a series of capacity-building programs for Togolese youth, with embassy staff and alumni volunteers serving as trainers. Given the high levels of unemployment among young adults in Togo, these programs are increasingly sought after by local university partners and students. Additionally, because the programs are held onsite and run by staff and volunteers, the embassy can quickly implement them without worrying about a budget.
One such program, a weekly English language course for 60 students from the University of Lomé’s School of Administrative Assistants that lasted three months, concluded when the embassy’s Emerging Voices Center organized a graduation ceremony, June 7.
Public Affairs Officer Shannon Ritchie encouraged attendees to keep practicing English in any way possible and reminded the soon-to-be-graduates that the free conversation classes at the university’s American Corner were still available to non-students. University officials spoke directly to the students about the importance of learning English since Togo joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 2022.
Because the public diplomacy staffing initiative puts a strategic emphasis on audiences, Embassy Lomé has been prioritizing specific youth groups and skill areas. Recurring group sessions over a period of several months deepened participants’ relationship with the embassy and their understanding of U.S. values. This particular group immediately witnessed another benefit of learning English vocabulary in their field. Toward the end of the program, one student said that she was selected for a job post-graduation because her knowledge of English gave her a competitive advantage.
The embassy will continue English language and other skill-building programs at the Emerging Voices Center and the two American Corners in Togo. Keeping up with demand will be the most challenging part as more than 900 Togolese youth have applied for the latest skill-building course in 3D printing.
Nathaniel Sowou Djifa is a locally employed staff member in the public diplomacy section at Embassy Lomé.