The end is just the beginning for UD's 2014 Washington Fellows
9:51 a.m., Aug. 11, 2014--The 25 young African leaders who have been living and learning at the University of Delaware as Washington Fellows this summer reached an important milestone on Friday, July 25.
That date marked the end of their six-week stay at UD and the completion of the initial year of the program through President Barack Obama’s flagship Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
Making Delaware home
The program, which is the first of its kind and recently has been renamed the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, aims to bring increasing numbers of young Africans to the United States each year with a goal of 1,000 by summer 2016.
UD was host to this year’s Civic Leadership Institute, through which the Washington Fellows participated in daily academic sessions taught by UD faculty, shared in days of civic engagement and took numerous tours of U.S. cities.
Their time in the program culminated with a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C., where the fellows had the opportunity to engage in a town hall meeting with Obama and listen to remarks by first lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
“I see the world in a better lens. I interacted with people from different countries and learned about other people’s cultures,” said one fellow.
Through the program, the fellows had opportunities to engage with Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. John Carney.
They also visited and took part in service efforts at a number of community agencies and non-profits in Delaware.
The fellows learned about cultivating leadership, utilizing media to advance their projects and understanding the challenges that Africa as a whole faces during their academic sessions with more than 25 UD faculty members.
A powerful session for the fellows was that with UD President Patrick Harker, who said, “Always use the organic strategy when developing leadership.”
The young African leaders represented 19 different countries in Africa, and their passions were just as diverse.
Washington Fellow Cathy Anite, a media rights lawyer from Uganda, said she works on defending journalist’ rights and promoting freedom of expression and access to information.
“For me the freedom of expression is one of the most important tenets of democracy, which links with many other important rights. And in order for us to achieve change, you need to speak out, and the program has given us that platform,” said Anite.
The UD Washington Fellows group, highly motivated young African leaders, ranged from award winning journalists, to human rights lawyers, to creators of non-profit organizations. They focused on a number of prevalent social issues.
With the end of the program at UD, the fellows presented their essential questions and reflected on the opportunities of the program and its effects on their visions and work in their respective countries.
“We have a saying back home, ‘Good things are never enough.’ It is about how we use what we have to flourish, and that in coming here I was able to gain all these new ideas and perspectives,” said Cheikh Sy of Senegal.
The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Program was sponsored UD’s Institute for Global Studies.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program, IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students for myriad global opportunities, administers internationally-recognized programs such as the MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) Student Leaders Institute, and sponsors such signature events as International Education Week each fall and country-specific celebrations each spring.
IGS collaborates with other global partners on campus, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies.
Article by Elizabeth Adams
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and courtesy of the Institute for Global Studies