Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Preparing young Nigerians for leadership

US Ambassador James Entwistle poses with Norther Nigeria contingent to the 2015 YALI - Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy/Idika Onyukwu
A year ago, 45 young Nigerians from various parts of the country were selected to participate in President Obama’s first ever Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  The White House developed this program in recognition of the critical and increasing role that young Africans are playing in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security on the continent.  Those selected participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a six-week academic and leadership program focused on business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management at select U.S. universities.

Those first YALI fellows have used the knowledge and exposure they have received to improve their businesses and undertake programs that impact positively on their communities.  Recently, one fellow, Adepeju Jaiyeoba, founder of Mother’s delivery kits pitched her idea on enhanced maternal care to U.S. investors of the hit television show “Shark Tank” at a White House event.

US Ambassador James Entwistle making remarks at the 2015 YALI predeparture in Abuja - Photo Credit U.S. Embassy/Idika Onyukwu
This year, another set of young people from all over Africa will participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship.  From Nigeria, 40 fellows will participate in the six-week program in the United States.  Again, they were selected from about seven thousand applicants having gone through a rigorous selection process.  To enable them to understand the program and especially the demands on them in the United States, the U.S. Mission Nigeria hosted a pre-departure orientation.

Some 2014 YALI fellows shared some of the things they wish they knew before they traveled.  Maryam Mohammed, a fellow placed at Morgan State University, said she wished she had kept a daily journal.  She encouraged the new fellows to take souvenirs that are uniquely Nigerian including musical compact discs, leather wallets, bead jewelry, etc.  She also emphasized that they take complimentary cards.  The other fellows also encouraged them to speak up, be involved in all the activities and promote Africa.

Ambassador Entwistle interacting with the fellows. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy/Idika Onyukwu
In her presentation, Shade Adebayo of the U.S. Embassy’s Education Advising Center explained some important things about American life and culture.  She explained that “African time” does not exist in the United States, emphasizing punctuality at all lectures, meetings, and appointments.  She also explained that fellows might experience some slight differences in English since Nigerian English is based on the British style.

The 2015 Fellows will be placed at various colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Arizona State University, University of Wisconsin-Stout, University of Minnesota, Clark Atlanta University, Rutgers University, University of Delaware, University of Virginia, Howard University, Northwestern University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Tulane University, Wagner College, University of Nevada, Reno, Syracuse University, University of California Berkeley, Dartmouth College, University of Notre Dame, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, and College of William & Mary/Presidential Precinct.

1 comment:

  1. Hello everyone,

    I want to travel with my wife and my 7 months old baby to US for holiday, would the age of my baby constitute an hindrance in issuing us visit visa?