UW-Madison releases names, bios of African leaders to visit campus

YALI IREX edited
President Obama speaks to Mandela Washington Fellows at the 2014 Presidential Summit. (Photo by IREX)

The African Studies Program has released the names and biographies of 25 young African leaders who will spend six weeks on the UW-Madison campus as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The fellowship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, brings 1,000 leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 from across Africa to complete a six-week academic and experiential learning institute at U.S. institutions. UW-Madison will host 25 fellows who are slated to arrive on June 17.

The fellows selected to participate at UW-Madison, 13 women and 12 men, represent a variety of professional fields including medicine, public health, law, education and community activism. They hail from 19 countries.

“We knew they were going to be an impressive group,” Neil Kodesh, African Studies Program faculty director, said. “And their bios have confirmed that they really are extremely successful – all leaders in their professional fields and communities.”

For example, Kenyan fellow Sicily Mburu has over five years of experience in the health sector, serving as a medical doctor in Kenya’s Ministry of Health as well as participating in health-system strengthening projects in HIV/AIDS and maternal health.

After completing the fellowship, she hopes to use mobile technology to assess health needs in her organization, allowing for cost-effective, high-impact interventions.

Gnenegnimin Eli Yeo, a fellow from Côte d’Ivoire, also has a deserving vision, planning “to create a center that will train and equip young men and women to create their own businesses and impact the community” after returning from the fellowship.

In planning for fellow arrival, the African Studies Program has organized a variety of academic and community engagement opportunities directed at both personal and professional development.

“UW-Madison has outstanding faculty in the field of public management, and we are thrilled that they will be working with the fellows,” fellowship Administrative Director Anita Makuluni said. “It will be an excellent opportunity for exchange on both ends.”

The African Studies Program has partnered with campus entities like the Global Health Institute, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Law School and the School of Education to develop academic curriculum.

When not in the classroom, learning continues through experiential site visits and community engagement.

Examples of site visits include the Wisconsin State Capitol, Epic Systems, Wisconsin Public Broadcasting and Sassy Cow Creamery. The group will also partner with local organizations like the River Food Pantry and the UW Arboretum for service events, with social excursions to places like Devil’s Lake State Park and Chicago, Ill.

As the fellows prepare for these experiences and more, there is no shortage of excitement.

“I am excited to connect with young Africans and Americans,” Ethiopian fellow Gebeyehu Abate wrote in a pre-departure survey. “I am also excited to experience the higher education system of the U.S., as well as meet professors, students and partners of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

For a full listing of biographies, visit the African Studies Program website.

The African Studies Program continues to seek volunteers for the duration of the six-week institute. Opportunities include brief day-to-day engagements like grocery shopping, religious service attendants and event chaperones. Contact Meagan Doll at yali@africa.webhosting.cals.wisc.edu with interest.

“UW-Madison welcomes 25 African leaders to campus,” 6/16/2016. UW-Madison International Division.