3:15 p.m., July 9, 2015--Thursday, June 25, marked a busy day in the state legislative calendar.
On the second-to-last day of the year’s legislative session, Delaware’s senior leadership took time to engage with Mandela Washington Fellows as part of their stay at the University of Delaware.
Gov. Jack Markell and many of the state’s senators and representatives shared advice concerning leadership, civic responsibility and community involvement with some of Africa’s brightest and most promising young leaders, visiting Delaware as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
The fellows, who hail from 22 countries across Africa, are all leaders of civic and advocacy organizations in their home communities.
During their six-week stay at UD, they are engaging in a series of seminars, practical sessions and workshops focused on further developing their already excellent leadership skills.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.
Funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX, the program seeks to empower young professionals to continue their missions of promoting democracy and good governance, innovation and entrepreneurship, and accountability.
Upon arrival in Dover, the fellows first toured and learned about the Old State House building where meetings of the state’s legislative bodies had historically convened. They later visited Legislative Hall, where they toured the chambers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Markell, who assumed office in 2008, officially welcomed the fellows to the First State and spoke to them about his role as governor.
“I am thrilled to have you here,” said Markell, “I hope that we are able to continue to build stronger connections between the people of Delaware and the people of all parts of Africa – from commercial, economic and cultural standpoints to tourism and everything else in between.”
In his office, Markell also shared details on the time he had spent in both Botswana and South Africa.
A number of state senators and representatives also met with the fellows. Among those present were Reps. Paul Baumbach, Stephanie Bolden, Charles Potter, Ruth Briggs King and Harold Peterman, and former representative Donald Blakey.
They spoke of the importance of understanding their constituents’ needs, as well as the value of bi-partisanship in passing legislation. Many shared that their involvement in community organizations led them to pursue state office.
The visit culminated as legislators paused their session to welcome each fellow into the Senate chamber, collectively applauding them for their work in their respective nations. The fellows were then presented with official tributes commemorating their dedication and continued work in their organizations.
Amina Shaaban from Tanzania wrote about the experience in the fellows’ blog. “It was an honor and a privilege to have the proceedings stopped for us. Everyone left the Senate feeling very emotional and very privileged. I’m sure everyone’s morale has been boosted and we can’t wait to go back home and keep the wheel of change moving and, hopefully, someday we could be recognized in our own countries, too.”
To learn more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program at the University of Delaware, visit the website or contact Gretchen Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the fellows on social media by via Instagram and Twitter and engage using the hashtags #UDMWF and #UDGlobalSummer.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies, which administers the Mandela Washington Fellows program, was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program, IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students for a number of global opportunities, and administers internationally-recognized programs such as the MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) Student Leaders Institute, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for Young African Leaders, and most recently the SUSI-WL (Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders) program.
In addition, IGS sponsors such signature events as Global Month each fall and country-specific celebrations each spring.
IGS collaborates with other global partners on campus, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies.
Article by Jessica Franzetti