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Americans Deepen Partnerships and Opportunities Through International Exchange

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Americans Deepen Partnerships and Opportunities Through International Exchange

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to announce the 71 Americans selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Reciprocal Exchange Component.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders logo

The Reciprocal Exchange component provides Americans with the opportunity to travel to Africa to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed with young Africa leaders during their Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.  This Reciprocal Exchange encourages U.S. experts and leaders to work with Fellows they met in the United States to tackle critical issues, such as promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity in both the United States and Africa, while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts and strengthening mutual understanding. 

Through these competitive awards, 71 U.S. leaders from 23 states and the District of Columbia will travel to 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for up to four weeks throughout 2018.  The Reciprocal Exchange will support diverse projects that address a wide array of global and local community challenges in both the United States and Africa.  

Additionally, Reciprocal Exchanges create unique business opportunities for American Awardees, allowing them to test concepts in new markets.  "This was my first time doing business in an emerging market, and I learned as much about the soft-skills and cultural considerations as I did about the practical and logistical differences," says Lauren McDanell, who traveled to Madagascar in June 2018.  Lauren, who is the Phoenix Director of Entrepreneur Initiatives for SEED SPOT said, "My role at SEED SPOT centers on training local community organizers and developing curriculum for entrepreneurs.  This [Reciprocal Exchange] project involved training and developing curriculum for a new market, and it was invaluable for me to see how our concepts worked in an emerging market, where they translated well and where they struggled."

American Awardees selected for the 2018 Reciprocal Exchange grants come from across the United States, traveling to destinations across Sub-Saharan Africa. View the full list of awardees.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement.  From 2014 to 2018, 3,700 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship.  Since its inception, 125 Reciprocal Exchange projects have been awarded jointly to over 250 American professionals and African leaders representing 29 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and 33 African countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov/mwf and join the conversation at #YALI2018.

Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX
acole@irex.org

 

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