University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW-Madison to host third cohort of young African leaders in summer 2018

by Meagan Doll

MADISON, Wis. –  The University of Wisconsin-Madison will host its third cohort of emerging African leaders beginning June 20 for a six-week academic and leadership institute, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders, ages 25-35, through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and local community engagement.  UW-Madison is among 27 universities selected to host the fellowship in 2018.

2017 UW-Madison Mandela Fellows (left to right) Nasra Songoro (Tanzania), Webby Phiri (Zambia), and Tankiso Motipi (Lesotho) pose for a photo in their first days of orientation in Madison. Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison.

“This program plays a critical role in creating a global network between Wisconsin and Africa’s young leaders,” African Studies Program Associate Director Aleia McCord said. “We are seeing collaborations spark and continue well beyond the summer institute, and we are excited to add to that network.”

Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has brought 3,000 young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaborations with U.S. professionals.  The 25 fellows hosted by UW-Madison will be part of a larger group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows. All 700 young leaders will meet at the end of their institutes in Washington, D.C. for a closing summit.

Since joining the fellowship as an institute partner in 2016, UW-Madison has hosted 50 Mandela Fellows from more than 30 African countries. While in Madison, these Mandela Fellow alumni have clocked more than 1,000 hours of community service, and many continue to partner with Wisconsin colleagues into the present day.

Film produced by Emily Julka.

For example, 2017 Mandela Fellow Rebekah Awuah, of Ghana, recently helped launch a UW-Madison student internship with Business Day Ghana, a business news outlet in Accra. Working closely with the International Internship Program (IIP), Awuah leveraged her networks to provide what she believes will be a valuable professional experience for Wisconsin students.

“The interns will gain valuable insight into the challenges faced by organizations in today’s world,” Awuah said. “As an alumna of the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Wisconsin, it was exciting to help.”

This international internship development came on the heels of a similar collaboration with 2016 UW-Madison Mandela Fellow Rashida Nakabuga. Nakabuga, of Uganda, helped develop a production and marketing internship with the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses & Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), which welcomed its first UW-Madison intern in summer 2017. Both internships are currently accepting intern applications for summer 2018.

Back on campus, the UW-Madison African Studies Program looks forward to again offering academic and leadership programming that will challenge, inspire, and empower the 2018 Mandela Fellows. Some highlights of the 2018 program will include service and site visits to Madison-area organizations as well as fellow-led programming open to the public.

“The Mandela Washington Fellowship in UW-Madison broadened my horizon,” Awuah said of her 2017 experience. “It afforded me an opportunity to draw on the experiences of accomplished African leaders and set me on a speedy agenda to do more for my community.”

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Wisconsin or to get involved, contact Meagan Doll at yali@africa.wisc.edu.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State and administered by IREX.  For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov/mwf and join the conversation at #YALI2018.

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  • 2017 Mandela Fellows reflect on the cultural exchange experience and aspects of American culture that stuck with them through the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Wisconsin. Film produced by Emily Julka.
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