Elsie Rogers Halliday Okobi, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Southern, will help train library staff members in Kenya as part of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program.
Okobi recently was awarded a fellowship that will take her to United States International University – Africa, located in Nairobi, where she will offer professional development training for 90 days. The exact timing of the project is uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is hopeful that it could occur by fall.
The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program is designed to reverse Africa’s loss of highly trained natural-born citizens by helping African Diaspora scholars give back to the continent’s next generation by sharing their expertise. The program also seeks to develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and those in the United States and Canada.
“Having been involved in higher education in the United States for four decades, this award provides me with the opportunity in a small way to give back and contribute to narrowing the digital divide in Africa, as well as help in attainment of United Nations Millennium Development Goals for sustainable development,” Okobi said. “I hope that my participation will help develop global digital citizens in developing countries.”
Training topics will include digital reference services, information literacy concepts, establishment of library outcomes and assessment, and learning communities. She will collaborate with library administration and staff at United States International University to help improve the delivery of services. The project also will include the development of assessment tools using appropriate and measurable service outcome goals.
The program is funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with United States International University – Africa. A total of 471 fellowships have been awarded for scholars to travel to Africa since the program’s inception in 2013.
Fellowships match host universities with African-born scholars and cover the expenses for project visits of between 14 and 90 days, including transportation, a daily stipend, and the cost of obtaining visas and health insurance.
Okobi also earned a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship in 2019, when she developed and presented a month-long training program for librarians at the American University of Nigeria to update staff and faculty on digital information skills.
She is a Fulbright Specialist Scholar for Librarianship, having traveled to Hanoi, where she developed and presented training for faculty and library managers at Hanoi University of Culture.
Okobi, who joined SCSU in 1990, has been active in various Connecticut library community and organizations during her tenure. She is a member of American Friends of Kenya — a New London-based, non-profit organization that works to develop school media centers, provide books and train teacher librarians to run the centers. In 2012, she traveled with the group to establish school library centers and conduct school media specialists training workshops in Kenya.
She also has worked with noted Harvard University professor Henry Gates Jr. on the publication of the Dictionary of African Biography.