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A look at local governance

UD Mandela Washington Fellows spend day with county executive, police officers

“I ran for office because, like each of you, I believe that we can make this world a better place through service,” New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer said recently as he addressed the University of Delaware’s 25 Mandela Washington Fellows.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, a program of the U.S. Department of State, brings sub-Saharan Africa’s brightest young leaders to 39 institutions across the United States for six weeks of academic coursework and leadership training. The UD institute focuses on the theme of civic leadership and nurtures connections between the fellows and local organizations, businesses and government agencies through weekly site visits, community engagement opportunities and peer collaboration.

On June 27, fellows traveled first to the Cpl. Paul J. Sweeney Public Safety Building and later to the New Castle County Executive Building for a day on local governance and policing. They sat in on the county Division of Police weekly TAPS (Targeted Analytical Policing System) meeting, toured the 911 Call Center and met with a number of representatives.

Meyer explained the role of local governance in the United States and the separation and limitation of power that occurs between federal, state and local governing entities. The county government, according to Meyer, is responsible for maintaining thousands of miles of sewer systems, local library and park systems, land use policy, policing, paramedics and more. “Unlike in East Africa, where the federal government controls most everything, here I certainly don’t work for the president and I don’t really work for the governor either, although we agree and partner on many things.”

Partnership and collaboration were central themes of talks given by Meyer and other Delaware representatives. “One of the most important things we do is collaborate,” said Meyer. “If I can’t join forces with city mayors or with the state government, we will never get anything done. As an example, the county police and the state police are out working together every day.”

Meyer, a founder of Nairobi-based Ecosandals and a fluent speaker of Swahili, drew connections between his experiences abroad and his current role in Delaware. “I am used to criticizing the security work of African countries, but according to him [Meyer], our focus is the same. We face very different situations but the most important aspect is to communicate to residents and meet their expectations everywhere and at all times,” said Cheikh Thiam, a UD Mandela Washington Fellow from Senegal.

Later in the day, fellows met with several other representatives for an in-depth look at specific functions of the New Castle County Executive Office.

Among other topics, Col. Vaughn Bond of the New Castle County Police discussed the importance of the division’s ongoing outreach efforts. “The only way we are going to know what is happening in our community is for our community to call us,” he said. “Without that, we are not going to be effective.”

Sgt. Sonia Trudeau, who has been involved in the Community Engagement Specialist program and a previous member of the Community Services Unit, believes the Mandela Washington Fellows and members of the county police force have much in common. “When you talk about civic leadership, what we are doing is not that much different,” said Trudeau. “In community policing, that’s what we do.”

The Community Engagement Specialist Program, the first of its kind in the county, puts 15 officers on patrol 24/7 with the express purpose of addressing issues and engaging with residents in a more expedient manner coupled with community services initiatives including the Police Athletic League, Citizens’ Police Academy, Explorer Program, Senior Roll Call, Community Block Watch and Officer Friendly programs at local schools.

“It was useful information for me as a person from a developing country, where every citizen fears the police,” said Asan Juma Sulieman Ramadan, from South Sudan. “I learned a lot in terms of how the police should treat and manage criminal activities and how work distribution is tackled.”

Follow along

This summer, fellows will share their experiences on the official UD Mandela Washington Fellowship blog. Those interested are also invited to follow @UDGlobal on Instagram and Twitter and engage using the hashtags #UDMWF and #YALI2017.

A special social media campaign, #UDGlobalSummer, allows you to meet the participants in all four U.S. Department of State programs hosted by UD and facilitated by the Institute for Global Studies this summer.

To learn more about the UD Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit the IGS website and contact Kim Bothi, community engagement director, or Gretchen Bauer, academic director.

About the Institute for Global Studies

The Institute for Global Studies (IGS) 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, administers State Department-sponsored programs such as the UD Fulbright Initiative, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Institute and the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership (SUSI-WL) program, and sponsors globally-focused events throughout the year.

IGS collaborates with campus partners, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies. In addition, IGS partners with Enrollment Management to coordinate the UD World Scholars Program.

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