For the sixth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of State selected Rutgers to offer two six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship Institutes, one in Civic Engagement and one in Leadership in Business.
The Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), one of the largest programs for Africa engagement sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Rutgers, along with 27 other universities across the US, works closely with the program’s implementing partner, IREX, to offer leadership programs that will challenge, motivate, and empower these inspiring young leaders from Africa. Each Institute consists of cohorts of 25 young professionals from across sub-Saharan Africa. Rutgers is honored to be the only university in 2019 that was selected to lead two Institutes.
The Institute for Leadership in Civic Engagement will be led by Ron Quincy, Bloustein School of Public Policy and Planning; Ousseina Alidou, Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literature and the Center for African Studies; and Greg Costalas, Rutgers Global.
The Institute for Leadership in Business will be led by Kevin Lyons, Rutgers Business School and Johanna Bernstein, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Both Institutes are supported by Rutgers Global.
While each Institute has a different focus, they both have one thing in common at their core: effecting change for the common good—and there will be a crossover between the two institutes, with some joint hands-on activities. Beyond in-class training, the Fellows will also visit to iconic landmarks in the New Jersey region, participate in cultural activities, and meetings with community leaders.
The connectivity with the Rutgers community that develops over the course of the six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship Institutes continues well beyond the Fellows' departure. Relationships that were started during the summer program are maintained through regular communication, and the opportunity for Rutgers faculty to travel to Africa to continue the projects.
Asenath Dande, associate director of international scholar/faculty services at Rutgers Global, connected with 2017 fellow Victor Charo, a public health professional based in Kenya, during a networking reception on campus. Charo, now a public health professional in Kenya, regularly volunteers for Hitaji Development Initiative, Dande’s NGO that addresses challenges—particularly, access to education—faced by young girls and women in Kenya.
“It’s not easy to have on-the-ground support when you live so far away,” Dande said. Dande traveled to Kenya in June 2018 as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program. In Kenya, Dande—on behalf of Hitaji Development Initiative—met with Charo and local officials, school administrators, and parents to establish a mentorship and vocational training program for girls to participate in during the summer months when school is not in session.
“Being a part of Rutgers Global has provided me with a lot of opportunities and given me a lot of insights,” she said. “I’ve been able to think outside the box and connect with the right people like [Charo].”