Thursday, 22 June 2017

My Journey to the Mandela Washington Fellowship

Let me start with Good News... I made the cut for the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship!!! Yaaayy!!! 😂😂😂 And Yes, this is a big deal guys... you even get a license plate for it! Hehhehehe!

At the Georgia State Revenue Authority... Yes i got a Mandela Washington Fellowship car license plate :-)

It was a Monday Afternoon in January, i was in a matatu at the Mololine booking office at Odeon in Nairobi, waiting for the shuttle to fill up so that we could start our journey to Nakuru. I do not remember why i was in Nairobi on a working day, but am sure it must have been a good reason (Disclaimer: I do not skive work..under any circumstances 😉 )

I remember it was really hot but i could not open my window because...well, because it is Nairobi, and therefore i could not wait for the shuttle to fill up. As i was sitting there, preparing myself to sleep through the journey, i received a call from an unknown number which, i did not pick. I know it is bad habit, but generally my call pick-up rate is at about 50% and that is for people i know. Most often, it is about 25%  for unknown numbers, and that is if you call in the early part of the day!

I stared at the phone as i waited for the call to end so that i could check who it was on true caller, but before i could, the number called again. I did not pick, again. And it called a third time, which i also did not pick! At this time i was worried. I was in a noisy matatu and that meant that i could not pretend to be somewhere in the office if it happened to be someone from work calling (Disclaimer: I do not lie... am just pointing out hypothetical possibilities here..😂)

So, again, i waited for the call to end and once my phone stopped ringing, i quickly went to true caller to see who it was. Lo and behold, my true caller listed it as the US Embassy! 

Of course i started thinking of the many job applications i had sent to the embassy, wondering which one i might had been shortlisted for. And in a bid to not lose any chance i may have had, i decided to call back immediately. And yes, as you might have guessed, the call was not picked!

About 10 minutes later, the number called again, and this time i picked before the first ring ended...heheh!  A beautiful voice on the other end told me that i had been shortlisted for the Mandela Washington Fellowship and was required to go for an interview on Thursday at the US Embassy. To be honest at that moment in time the matatu was too noisy and i could not remember exactly what MWF was but i quickly decided to say yes to everything and figure out the details later.

And that is how my journey towards the Mandela Washington Fellowship started. Fast forward six months later and here we are, by the grace of God.

Second Day at Georgia State University... 25 Fellows from 18 Countries in the Public Management Track

 Well.., there was the part of the interviews, getting permission from work to travel, visa interviews, Kenyan Fellows projects and everything else in between but that is a story for another day.
It has been an amazing experience so far, even though we are just a couple of days into it, and i look forward to many marvelous experiences in the state of Georgia.

Lunch at the Andrew Young Policy Hub

Ok... So I know some may be wondering what the Mandela Washington Fellowship is, so lets get that out of the way.

What is the Mandela Washington Fellowship? 

Briefly, the Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program for The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a program started by Obama in 2014 with an aim to invest in and empower the next generation of African leaders.
The fellowship selects outstanding leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa and takes them to US Universities where they are taken through intensive leadership programs for 6 weeks.

The Fellowship is divided into three tracks;
  • Public Management- Mainly targets government workers
  • Business and entrepreneurship- Mainly business people
  • Civic Leadership- And these here are the NGO guys 
You can get more information about this from the YALI website