The United States Embassy in Harare starts looking for candidates Sunday for the 2016 prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI), a brainchild of President Barack Obama.
Twelve regional cities across Zimbabwe, 18 outreach events and 21 YALI alumni, represent an opportunity to learn about applying for one of the 60 positions that will be available to young Zimbabwean leaders to take part in this high level, professional development program.
U.S Embassy Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Nikki Finnemann, said the program is expected to reach many Zimbabweans.
“Sunday we are hitting the road, by we, I mean a couple of my colleagues in the US Embassy, we are hitting the road with YALI alumni, that is, Mandela Washington fellows the years 2014 and 2015 they are hitting 12 cities. The goal of the entire tour is to encourage Zimbabwe’s brightest and best leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 to apply this year,” said Finnemann.
She said they have received information from the White House that Zimbabwe has to provide 60 fellows in 2016.
“Sixty is an incredible number for Zimbabwe to receive that is the same number of fellows as South Africa and Kenya will enjoy,” said Finnemann.
She said YALI alumni will address various issues including talking about their experiences in various institutions in the United States and in encouraging potential candidates to apply for the fellowship.
Finnemann said the outreach program is largely designed to ensure that the fellowship scheme is embraced by all Zimbabweans.
“We are in Harare and it’s easy to meet people in Harare but we feel that it is incredibly important that next year’s applicants really represent all of Zimbabwe’s provinces. We can’t hit everything on this one tour but we hope to get good coverage in the country,” she said.
Finnemann noted that previous applicants have been facing serious challenges of accessing the internet-based YALI information.
“What we are doing on the tour will be handing out the questions so that people could take their time to work on their responses and then only go to the internet to find internet for the submission process,” said Finnemann.
More than 2,000 young leaders applied for 30 slots reserved for Zimbabweans in the last two years of the program, which was initiated by Mr. Obama a few years ago.
Fellows receive academic and professional knowledge from American universities and institutions for about six weeks before going back home to implement ideas derived from their stay in the U.S.