Outlook on Africa: Connecting Douglass Students to Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnae

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Five photos of Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnae
Friday, October 29th

The Global Village Living Learning Community Program at Rutgers-Douglass Residential College and Rutgers Global are collaborating on a new program called Outlook on Africa, a virtual series that connects alumnae of the Rutgers Mandela Washington Fellowship with current Douglass students. The Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnae, who are young African women leaders from across the continent, will connect with students via Zoom to share their stories of how local women are working on community issues affecting Africa and the world, and then the students in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions. 

The Outlook on Africa program was conceived by Madinah Elamin, Director of the Global Village program, with Dan Waite, Director of Rutgers Global Study Abroad, and Greg Costalas, Assistant Director of Programs at Rutgers Global who also oversees the Mandela Washington Fellowship Civic Engagement Institute at Rutgers. 

Elamin, who has overseen global education at Douglass for the past three years, had applied for and received a Rutgers Global Grant for a project called “Access Africa,” which was to help supplement travel costs for a trip to West Africa for several  students from the Global Village Community Program at DRC over winter break. Then, Covid-19 hit, and international travel was effectively halted. Elamin was still committed to the idea behind the grant, which was an attempt to increase access by connecting Black students to the possibility of creating global experiences abroad through international service learning in Africa and other international locations where they are not a minority. The goal was to find a way to still make use of the Global Grant by pivoting to an online program that would help achieve some of the original objectives.

Through conversations between Elamin and Rutgers Global, an important resource surfaced: leveraging the experiences of the young African leaders who participated in the Rutgers Mandela Washington Fellowship Institutes. Due to Douglass Residential College’s focus on women, and gender minority students, Elamin wanted a female perspective and to find “people on the ground” doing the work firsthand to talk with students about their experiences. Costalas could help identify Alumnae who would be able to speak with students on the topics of: Access to Education, Human and Women’s Rights, Sustainability, and Health and Medicine, highlighting the African or non-U.S. perspective. 

Two Outlook on Africa programs were organized and scheduled for the fall semester, the first on October 17, and the second on November 18. The event on October 17 focused on Global Health and Medicine, and included the following Alumnae: Sayida Sadick, Ghana, 2021; Candice Mbaita, Zimbabwe, 2018; Claudia Nsono, Cameroon, 2021; and Opeoluwa Ashimi, Nigeria, 2018. (Please see below for a link to the recorded event.) The event on November 18, the event will focus on Environmental Sustainability and feature the following Alumnae: Abigail Aruna, Ghana, 2021; Caroline Odera, Kenya, 2017; Jeshika Ramchund, South Africa, 2018; and Tshima Ramathaga, South Africa, 2018. These events are free and open to the Rutgers community.

Evolving the Global Village Program at Douglass

The Outlook on Africa series is only one part of a re-organized and expanded Global Village program at Douglass. “The pandemic gave us the opportunity to take a hiatus from programming, so we formed a restructuring committee to help us rethink what the Global Village should be,” said Elamin. The committee included Ousseina Alidou, Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Mary Curran, Director of Local-Global Partnerships at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and Dan Waite, as well as other staff, students and alums. Elamin reported that “there were a lot of big ideas, but we eventually landed on three programs.”

•    The Global Village is a one-year Living Learning Community Program that gathers students in themed groups to learn about global perspectives on a particular subject. 
•    The Global Leaders Program are for students who have participated in the Global Village for a year and who want a travel component. After a year of learning about global perspectives on a particular topic, these students are more prepared to make the most of a study abroad experience. All Global Leaders will participate in international service learning.
•    Global Learning is outside of the one-year programs of Global Village and Global Leaders, and encompasses globally-oriented programming, semester-long programs, and special events, like Outlook on Africa. Global Learning is open to all students.

“The goal is to increase access to more students by giving them more options,” said Madinah. She added, “Lots of things are happening, and it’s exciting!” To learn more about the Global Village at Rutgers-Douglass Residential College, visit: https://douglass.rutgers.edu/douglass-discovery/global-village

Outlook on Africa: Gender, Health & Medicine Recoding (10/17/21), Access Passcode: RmK9J%3v 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.  Rutgers is a sub-grantee of IREX and has implemented Leadership Institutes as a part of the Fellowship since 2014.  For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit the Fellowship’s website at www.mandelawashingtonfellowship.org

Featured in the photo: Candice Mbaita, Sayida Sadick, Claudia Nsono, Jeshika Ramschund, and Abigail Aruna