2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship: Week Four Update

The 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship heads into its fourth week of programming this Monday afternoon. So far, every day of the program  has been chock full of site visits, networking, leadership and education sessions, public speaking events, and more. Here are just a few highlights.

Fellows on Campus

Last week marked the first of four YALI Global Health Tuesdays, seminar sessions hosted by the Global Health Institute in which Fellows give presentations on a variety of public and community health topics. The topic last week was “Ensuring Women’s Health,” and speakers included Juliana Temitope Mathew-Mustapha (Niger), Idris Ola (Nigeria), and Christina Van Hooreweghe (DRC). Each Fellow was interviewed by the Global Health Institute to introduce themselves and their opinion on the topic at hand — here is Christina’s interview, in which she discusses how the media can be used to advance women’s health.

This coming Thursday and Friday morning, nine Fellows will participate in the first Expert Exchange Roundtables of the summer, in which they will meet with local leaders to discuss the global challenges of Public Resource Management.

2019 Mandela Washington Fellows Ass Lo, Zaida Mirye, Patience Chungu, Kevin Gnagne, and Gloria Bitomwa pose at the UW Arboretum (Photo Courtesy of UW Arboretum).

Fellows in the Community

Each Wednesday, the Fellows break into groups of five to serve as volunteers at one of five community partner sites – the UW-Madison ArboretumThe BubblerGigi’s Playhouse, the Goodman Community Center, or the Lussier Community Education Center.

The goal behind volunteering in smaller groups is that it not only allows each Fellow to forge lasting, meaningful connections with the organizations, individuals, and other Fellows they engage with on community site visits but also makes the overall volunteering experience more intimate, individual, and enjoyable.

In a Facebook post regarding her experience at Gigi’s Playhouse, Fellow Folajogun Akinlami said the following: “I love Gigi’s Playhouse… It’s a place where people with down syndrome and autism come to hang out, have fun and learn. Make the right impact and affect lives positively everywhere you go. Do your best to make someone smile today, the universe will always find a way to thank you for it.”

Fellows learn about Gigi’s Playhouse from Site Manager Julia Meyers (Photo Courtesy of Gigi’s Playhouse).

The Fellows have also continued to strengthen their local networks outside of these specific organizations. They have attended the Ghanaian Association of Madison Annual Picnic, eaten dinners with government officials and other community members, toured the Wisconsin Capitol Building, watched a Madison Mallards baseball game, and even played soccer at the newly renovated Near West Fields!

Fellows Traveling

In addition to exploring many different areas of Madison, the Fellows have embarked on visits outside of Madison as well. This Friday, they will head out to downtown Chicago for a weekend trip and today, they are visiting the Badger Army Ammunition Plant Museum and Devil’s Lake State Park.

In Week Two, the entire cohort traveled to Ashland, Wisconsin and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Reservation to learn more about the rural United States, the Bad River Band and the Ojibwe, and the rich, complex history of Native American tribes and peoples. Among other activities, they spoke with public health officials at the Bad River Health and Wellness Center and Columbus Community Hospital, toured the Food Sovereignty Program Building, and took a boat tour of rice sloughs with the Tribal Historic Preservation office.

Fellows Christina Van Hooreweghe, Alma-Nalisha Cele, Silas Ngahane, and Mpho Seipubi pose for a photo on the Bad River boat tour (Submitted photo).

The 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows have had a great month of programming and activities thus far, and everyone here at the African Studies Program looks forward to the fellowship’s continued success in the weeks to come.

Visit the African Studies Program calendar or subscribe to a weekly newsletter to learn more about upcoming events and engagement opportunities.

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 or join the conversation at #YALI2019.

Written by Rebecca Hanks.