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Call for Applications for the Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leaders Initiative

December 20, 2013

Calling Young Namibian Leaders for Washington Fellowship

The U.S. Embassy invites young African leaders to apply for a 2014 exchange program known as the “Washington Fellowship of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).”  U.S. President Barack Obama announced the program in June 2013 saying, “We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world… Africa’s future belongs to its young people.”

Deadline to apply is January 27, 2014 and applications, which include an essay, must be submitted online at http://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/.  To assist interested youth leaders with their applications, the American Cultural Center in Namibia will host two open house days Thursday, December 19 from 9am – 3pm and January 22 from 9am – 3pm.  Applicants should bring a photo identity card or passport.

This exchange program will enable 15 Namibians to join more than 500 young African leaders to visit the United States in mid-2014 as part of a fellowship that includes:
• A prestigious six-week summer leadership institute at a U.S. college or university campus with three thematic tracks: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public administration;
• A Presidential summit for all participants in Washington, DC;
• Internships in the United States for approximately 100 of the 500 participants, awarded on a competitive basis, following the six-week leadership institute; and,
• Follow-on activities for all participants on the continent after they return home, to engage with additional African youth as well as networking opportunities, internships, small grants and other activities to assist the young leaders to further their careers and maintain strong ties with the United States.

The initiative directly supports Namibia’s Vision 2030 by encouraging leadership and development to propel economic growth and prosperity, and strengthen democratic institutions.  U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Priscilla Hernandez said, “The Washington Fellowship is an initiative born of past successful exchanges in which young Africans, Namibians included, traveled to the United States, shared their viewpoints with President Obama, and created a network with other African leaders that enabled them to return to their countries and launch community service initiatives.” 

Patrick Sam from Namibia participated in the 2010 President’s Forum for Young African Leaders in Washington DC.  Since his return from the program, Patrick seized the opportunity to complete his Master’s degree in International Education Systems on a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship at prestigious Columbia University.  

Michael Mulunga participated in 2010 as well and had this advice for young Namibian leaders, “It is a great experience to go to the U.S. and to meet other young African leaders like yourself with which you share a common vision of developing your communities.  The YALI program is a great platform to have the opportunity to meet the U.S. president and to participate in the different programs offered.”

Vida de Voss, Director of Sister Namibia, who participated in a 2009 U.S. educational exchange, identified characteristics of the ideal Namibian youth leader to participate in a U.S. exchange:  “[Someone who]…takes initiative, follows through on projects…people I can see operate on their own, do great things…what you want in a leader.  Somebody who can give feedback and take initiative and make things happen.”

Selection criteria for Washington Fellowship YALI applicants include:
• Must be a citizen of and reside in a sub-Saharan African country.  (Persons holding U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency are not eligible.)
• Speak, read, and write proficiently in English.
• Be between 25-35 years of age at the time of application submission, although exceptional candidates younger than 25 will be considered.
• Have a proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business or entrepreneurship, or civic engagement.
• Demonstrate a commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship.
• Be committed to return to Africa and contribute their skills and talents to build and serve their communities.

Prospective applicants should visit http://youngafricanleaders.state.govpffor/ more information and to receive periodic updates via e-mail.  Alternatively, applicants are invited to call 229 801 or email IRCWindhoek@state.gov.