- It was finally time to reunite—IELC/DISS Reunion North America
In the 1980’s a courageous African American woman from Ohio noticed that there was a void in the educational system of Aba, and became passionate enough to want to do something about it. Determined to make her vision a reality, she resolved to establish one of the best schools the city of Aba had ever seen. This vision would take extra dedication because, as a non-Nigerian married to a Nigerian man, she would have to work doubly hard to execute her vision, especially in the frequently rowdy streets of Aba. This incredible woman is Mrs. Zovannah Onumah.
Starting on a small-scale, Mrs. Onumah had to work hard to convince parents to enroll their children in her school. The International Early Learning Centre (IELC) was born on Faulks Road, Aba, with a nursery school program for toddlers. Little did anyone know that those humble beginnings would begin a journey that would change the lives and destinies of countless students for years to come. IELC would become an elite school in Aba. “Elite” not just because it was frequented by the children of middle-class and upper-class individuals in Aba but because the educational standard therein was superior to any Aba had ever seen. This was so true of the school that many parents who were neither in the middle nor upper classes would sacrifice to ensure that their children would receive the highest standards in nursery and primary school education. Their sacrifices would pay off!
With the incredible quality of IELC, parents were completely on board when Mrs. Onumah decided to expand her vision into the establishment of a secondary school, Dority International Secondary School (DISS), named in tribute to Mrs. Onumah’s mother. By this time, many of the students from the primary school were old enough to enroll in the secondary school. Determined to accept only the most diligent and excellent students, DISS mandated that all students accepted into the school be required to pass a series of competitive tests to gain admission. In this way, Mrs. Onumah knew that only qualified students would make it in. The motto of the school would become the Latin Sursum ad Summum which means “Rise to the Highest.”
Because of the excellent foundation laid, the fame of the private school rose quickly as students began competing regionally and internationally; many times, beating out their competitors and making a name for themselves. Additionally, discipline was strong; and the English and Math standards were exceptionally high. The requirement of absolute excellence in (British) English grammar was so high that pidgin English and Igbo were not even allowed in the premises, except during Igbo classes for the latter. Also, no student could graduate without at least passing all English and Mathematics classes. DISS believed that those two were foundational courses which prepared their students for success in the real world, on both a national and global scale. Again, they were right!
Now spit out into all parts of Nigeria and the world, IELC and DISS graduates have realized that the standard set by their education has allowed them to compete with, and many times outshine, their contemporaries in the pursuit of higher education and in the workforce. Though, like everything else, IELC and DISS were not perfect, the foundation laid there has allowed its former students to be many things. From doctors, engineers, physicists and scientists to lawyers, journalists, and budding policy makers, the school set its students up for success.
Now older and wiser, many of us IELC and DISS alumni have realized the need for us to work together to continue the amazing legacy that was handed to us by Mrs.Onumah and our former teachers. We understand that there is a need for us to network and meet other alumni from other graduating classes that we never met before. Some of us keep in touch; others bump into each other in Houston (the popular hub for most Nigerians) or other cities, but there has never been an IELC/DISS meeting of the minds. This is the very first reunion of its kind for the alumni and we are incredibly excited about all that we can achieve.
Realizing that over one hundred DISS alumni and possibly hundreds of IELC alumni currently reside in the Americas, we decided that it was time for a reunion and have set our sights on the vibrant metropolitan city of Atlanta, a perfect meeting place for young and rising professionals. We decided it would be fun and inspiring to come together to see how far we have come, share stories of our experiences and spur each other on to achieving even greater things. We also thought it would be a great way to ensure that we never forget where we come from and that we keep the high moral standard and values instilled in us by our parents. Further, we want to spread camaraderie and encouragement towards those who might feel alone and depressed in a foreign country. Finally, we want to ensure that the next generation of graduates from IELC and DISS has the same discipline, tenacity and academic diligence we had in our time by raising funds and generating ideas on how we can help them achieve their fullest potential in all aspects of their lives; hence our theme of “Rising to the Highest” a play on the DISS motto.
With planning meetings taking place since the summer of 2010, we are resolute in our hope and belief that this three-day 2011 summer event will be a success. Working hard to spread the word through social media like Facebook and Twitter, emails and personal phone calls, we want to make certain that every IELC and DISS alumni is reached, and that all who are interested in participating or donating towards the cause or both, get a chance to do so. It is our earnest conviction that by coming together, we will improve ourselves, our local communities here in America, our alma-mater, the city of Aba, and eventually Nigeria as a whole. We hope no one is left behind!
For further information on this Reunion, please visitwww.dorityreunion.weebly.com andwww.dorityreunion.blogspot.com. You may find us on Facebook under the name “DISS Alumni” and follow us on Twitter at @dorityreunion. All email inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.