Exchange Matters / March 13, 2020

“Humbled & Honored”: Runcie Chidebe on Receiving the 2020 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation & Change

Interview by Marilyn Saks-McMillion, IVLP Program Officer, World Learning

Runcie Chidebe accepts the Global Ties U.S. 2020 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation & Change at the National Meeting. Photo credit: A.E. Landes Photography.


*Editor’s note: Runcie Chidebe is a 2016 alumnus of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). He was nominated and awarded the Global Ties U.S. IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation & Change at our 2020 National Meeting in January for his commitment to improving cancer care in Nigeria. His IVLP was programmed by Marilyn Saks-McMillion of World Learning, a National Program Agency, in coordination with five Community-Based Members: Citizen Diplomacy International (Philadelphia, PA); GlobalAustin (Austin, TX); Global Ties ABQ (Albuquerque, NM); the Vermont Council on World Affairs (Battleboro, VT), and the World Trade Center Institute (Baltimore, MD).

Marilyn (M): What were your reactions upon learning that you were selected for the Global Ties U.S. 2020 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Change & Innovation?

Runcie (R): Honestly, I was extremely humbled when I got the news. It clearly shows that in all that we do, let’s stay focused, consistent, and committed.

M: What was the response from your community after you received the award and gave your speech at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting?
R: For my country, Nigeria, it was a great honor. I was featured in national newspapers and celebrated across diverse platforms. It was also an inspiration for many IVLP alumni in Nigeria; many of them sent their congratulations and thanked me for my post-IVLP initiative. I think I spurred many people to understand the benefit of utilizing connections at every opportunity.

For the leaders that I met at the National Meeting, they greatly honored and celebrated me after I received the award and gave my speech. Truly, I was overwhelmed as many people were so touched by my speech. I remember a number of people walked up to me and said that I made them cry. Many others also said that I inspired them and gave them courage to continue their work around citizen diplomacy and exchange programs. I wondered, what exactly made the huge difference? Was it the award, my work, or my speech? It was really difficult to clearly state which one made the difference. I concluded that it was all.

M: What plans do you envision for your next steps for yourself and your work?
R: To sustain and scale up my work in a way that it can reach more people.

M: What do you hope your legacy will be?
R: To experience a Nigeria where access to healthcare or better cancer care is not determined by where people live or their financial capabilities.

Runcie is the founder and executive director of Project PINK BLUE, which advocates for improving healthcare quality and access to cancer care in Nigeria. Read more about his accomplishments and why he was nominated for the award here 

Watch his acceptance speech from the Global Ties U.S. 2020 National Meeting below.