Experience of a Lifetime: Young African Leaders Studying in the United States

July 18, 2014
President Obama Hosts is "Forum with Young African Leaders" in the East Room of the White House

From the University of California-Berkeley to Yale University, 500 young African leaders from sub-Saharan African countries are studying at academic institutions throughout the United States and gaining meaningful, life-changing experiences that will shape the way they interact with each other and help encourage further advancements in their respective fields.  These young Africans are the first wave of participants in the Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. 

On July 15, four Fellows from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda joined Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan in a Google+ Hangout moderated by ABC News Digital Reporter Dana Hughes. The Fellows discussed their experiences studying in the U.S. and how they plan on applying what they’ve learned to their lives when they return home. I hope you take a moment to watch highlights from their conversation.

According to Adebayo Alonge of Nigeria, a Fellow currently studying business and entrepreneurship at Yale University, “there is no doubt that a program like this, this program here in the U.S. that helps to open the minds of African – young African leaders into the possibilities of creating businesses and growing across their value-creation structures and models across the continent, will lead to a situation where jobs will [be] created as these businesses are formed.”

Throughout June and July, Washington Fellows are studying one of three topics: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management in six-week academic programs at U.S. colleges and universities. The Fellows, ages 25-35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. 

Afua Prempeh of Ghana describes the Washington Fellowship through her experience studying public management at Florida International University:  “this program very cleverly finds a way of bringing us together to network now and to build a better future for Africa.”

For more information on the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the Washington Fellowship Program visit: yali.state.gov. 

Follow the Washington Fellows on Twitter at @WashFellowship and #YALI2014 and on Facebook at FB.com/WashingtonFellowship

About the Author: Yvonne Ribeiro-Yemofio serves as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Digital Engagement at the U.S. Department of State.  

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