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Benjamin Ola Akande, PhD, recently met with Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, and was struck by the power of Twitter, a unique new “voice” for half a billion people in which there are no barriers and every idea is transparent.

He wondered to himself how best to leverage such creativity and brilliance to help solve the many intractable problems faced by so many around the world.

“I don’t know the answer but whatever answer we come up with, I hope it’s immediate, transparent, and makes us all accountable to our fellow global citizens,” Akande told participants during a keynote speech Wednesday on Exploring Global Citizenship at NAFSA’s 2013 Annual Conference in St. Louis.

A Nigerian-born American citizen and professor of economics and dean of Webster University's George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, Akande provided participants at the networking luncheon a glimpse into his own “American journey,” which began in 1979 when he left Nigeria for the United States, and shared some lessons learned along the way.

While he has observed over the years that there is a “hurry up and go” attitude in the United States, he also finds that Americans have remarkable courage to seek out challenges and to persevere in the face of adversity.

Akande shared five takeaways as he urged international educators to continue building bridges through the work they do each day as international educators:

  • The difference between success and failure is a matter of time.
  • The future is not a place you’re going—it’s a place you create.
  • If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
  • Learn from others’ mistakes (you won’t live long enough to learn from your own).
  • We were all born originals, yet so many of us try to be copies—be original.

In a world of constant movement and change, Akande left the audience with one final takeaway borrowed from an African proverb:

“If you want to go fast… go alone. If you want to go far… go together.”