China's Ambassador to Sierra Leone yesterday assured members of the newly formed Sino-Sierra Leone Alumni Association (SISLAA) of his embassy's determination to work closely with the association and to provide much-needed support to ensure that they achieve their goals.
At the official launch of the association, Ambassador KuangWeilin reminded members of SISLAA of their special responsibility to contribute to improving lives and strengthening the relationship between China and Sierra Leone.He congratulated the members, especially the president, Ibrahim Seibure, for the decision to form SISLAA, which he described as first of its kind.
"This is a special day and it will be remembered for a very long time. SISLAA is a special group with special experience. I want to assure you that the embassy will work closely to provide the support you need," he assured.
The Chinese diplomat said the launch of the association marked a new beginning in the bilateral relations between the two countries, and that SISLAA should work assiduously to making meaningful contributions to Sierra Leone's development.
Ambassador Weilin noted that the embassy has provided over 1,000 training opportunities to Sierra Leoneans, including four hundred and sixty-eight (468) scholarships.
On his part, SISLAA president Ibrahim Seibure explained that the association was established on 19 January 2013 with a constitution drafted and adopted by its inaugural members, which is the sole legal and binding instrument that guides its operations.
He stated that a strategic plan was also designed to guide them in their activities, and that they are registered with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs.
"Today marks another milestone from the thousands of miles journey we made from Sierra Leone to China. Few years ago we were here to receive documents and prepare our minds for an academic sojourn to the People's Republic of China, amidst different dreams, expectations and disciplines," noted Mr. Seibure.
"Our vision is to become a leading diverse, graduate-centered community dedicated to academic excellence, teamwork, innovation, and promotion of the cultural values of the people of Sierra Leone and the People's Republic of China."
He maintained that SISLAA members are a critical part of the Sino-Sierra Leone relationship, as they could help shape society in their own unique and meaningful ways.
Seibure opined that although they might not be physically located in China today, they remain a valued part of that society and by extension to their different universities, and that with their rich experience, they could contribute greatly to the educational experience of Sino-Sierra Leone, and could bring a real world perspective to the academic pursuits of the two countries.
He concluded by thanking the membership in Freetown, Njala University, University of Makeni (UNIMAK) and staff of the Chinese embassy for their support.