We Are Learning

Obinna Ebirim of Nigeria has over four years’ experience in public health, clinical health, political technical assistance, social media health advocacy, youth development and leadership.  He is currently a senior program officer for International Vaccine Access Center projects in Nigeria.

As we come to the end of the 4th out of the 6 weeks of our stay in University of Wisconsin – Madison for the Public Management track of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, I reflected on whether we are achieving our objectives of this program at this institution and the good news is that we are learning.

Obinna 2
Obinna Ebirim. (Photo courtesy of Obinna Ebirim)

The lesson that first came to my mind following recent activities is that of equal opportunity and inclusiveness. Recently, I observed that when two or more fellows raise their hands to indicate their interest to ask a question or make a comment and they lecturer points in their direction, there is always a selfless exchange of offer of opportunity for the other to take the lead. This to me is putting the understanding of equal opportunity to practice. Personally, I am not left out as I have tamed my curiosity, to comment and get answers to bothering questions, during this unique and rare opportunity with great teachers of UW-Madison and other personalities that I get to meet during this fellowship.

Another landmark event that speaks to the fact that we are learning is our ability to organize ourselves and conduct a free and fair election that had the best, a Fellow who is visually impaired, emerge as our representative for the ignite talk during the forthcoming presidential summit for Mandela Washington Fellows in Washington, D.C. Clearly, we are learning to be more responsible and inclusive.

One of the major challenge in many African countries is the problem of leadership the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship program of President Barack Obama, seeks to solve this by empowering young leaders with the right values they require in current and future leadership roles. With the above positive observed positive value change and many more that now plays out among fellows here at UW-Madison, I am certain that the expectations of the originators of this program are being met. However, this will have a greater impact on Africa if all fellow Fellows take these positive values back to their home countries and put it into practice in their public management roles so that together, we will build an Africa with more responsible and inclusive leaders that ensures equal opportunity.