UW-Madison again to host young African leaders in summer 2017

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Mandela Fellows Apolmida Tsammani and Abigail Nedziwe pose for a photo by the American flag after receiving certificates of completion of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship at a Farewell Luncheon, organized by the UW-Madison African Studies Program. (Photo by Meagan Doll / African Studies Program)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will again host 25 of Africa’s emerging leaders in in June for a six-week public management academic and leadership institute, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

UW–Madison is among 38 universities selected to host the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). For the second time, UW-Madison’s African Studies Program will organize the institute, aimed at empowering young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking to promote peace and prosperity on the African continent.

Of over 64,000 applications, the Mandela Washington Fellows at UW–Madison are among 1,000 fellows coming to institutions across the United States. At the end of their program, all of the fellows will gather in Washington, D.C., for a closing summit.

“Hosting a group of fellows last summer was a fantastic experience; it was a pleasure to engage with such a dynamic group of entrepreneurial global leaders,” Aleia McCord, associate director of the African Studies Program, said. “We look forward to welcoming another cohort of Africa’s best and brightest to Wisconsin.”

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, UW–Madison has designed a 2017 institute with programming to both challenge and empower the young African leaders. Fellows will not only participate in academic sessions hosted by university faculty experts, but will also volunteer with local nonprofit organizations, meet with federal and state officials, and explore the meaning of public management and local governance in communities around Wisconsin.

2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship at UW-Madison from African Studies at UW-Madison on Vimeo.

The 2016 fellows forged lasting relationships with the Wisconsinites they met, leading to several sustained collaborations, McCord said, pointing specifically to several ongoing initiatives.

Rashida Nakabuga, a 2016 fellow from Uganda, worked with UW-Madison’s International Internship Program (IIP) to cultivate a Uganda-based production and marketing internship for UW undergraduate students. Nakabuga helped establish the internship with National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises Limited (NUCAFE), and the first UW student will participate this summer.

“The Mandela fellows are ambitious, successful and very well-connected in their home countries,” IIP advisor and Program Coordinator Carly Stingl said. “Rashida is very interested in continuing the cultural collaboration she began in Madison. We are also very excited about this opportunity and hope to keep working together to potentially develop more.”

2016 Mandela Fellow Obinna Ebirim (right) discusses constitution building during a simulation directed by UW-Madison’s Heinz Klug, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law at UW-Madison. (Photo by Meagan Doll / African Studies Program)

2016 Nigerian fellow and medical doctor Obinna Ebirim met Brad Paul, an associate scientist at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, at a community reception during the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Today, they are working to implement a program evaluation approach in Nigeria’s primary health sector. The approach, first implemented by Paul during agriculture research Mozambique, is called “Field Diaries” and features the daily journals as a tool to measure needs and development impact.

Ebirim recommended this type of mutual collaboration as an especially rewarding part of the larger Mandela Washington Fellowship, advising future fellows to “pick a project you’re trying to implement and take advantage of the opportunities around you.”

More recently, Sicily Mburu, a 2016 fellow from Kenya, partnered with UW Hospital nurse clinician Susan Gold to secure a Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Award. The award grants up to $5,000 in funding to support projects between fellows and American professionals they met during the fellowship. In the coming year, Mburu and Gold will together provide training through a developed curriculum on HIV/AIDS to nearly 60 young people in Kenya.

These lasting connections illustrate the value of the Mandela Washington Fellowship by facilitating local-global understanding, McCord said.

“The Mandela Washington Fellowship is really an opportunity to invest in international cooperation,” McCord said. “And we are excited to be a part of that venture a second time.”

The African Studies Program is seeking volunteers to engage with fellows, as well as local organizations interesting in offering tours or other collaborative ventures. To learn more or get involved, contact Meagan Doll at yali@africa.wisc.edu.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

“UW-Madison selected to host young African leaders in summer 2017,” UW-Madison International Division, 02/17/2017.

“Top U.S. colleges and universities to host young African leaders,” International Research & Exchanges Board, 02/02/2017.

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