July 28, 2017
My adventure has a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow at Georgia State University (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies) has come to an end. And what a journey. The last six (6) weeks as a Mandela Washington Fellow have been so incredible and exceeded my expectations. As GSU Fellows we decided to host a Goodbye African themed dinner for all the amazing people who hosted us during our six (6) week Fellowship adventure at GSU.
If I could do it all over again there is no other university I would want to be placed at but for Georgia State University and there are no other group of Fellows I would want to be teamed up with but for the Fellows I have spent the last six (6) weeks with. I have met some of the most intelligent, dynamic and driven peers that the African continent has to offer. Over the past six (6) weeks we learned together, debated with each other, served the Georgia community together, laughed together, danced together, ate and sang together, disagreed at times yet through it all we were able to be a unified group and became family. And just like any family we were complex but the support and love that we showed one another was the unifying thread – despite our differences. I look forward to strengthening the bonds that were formed and to continuing collaborations so to develop the continent of Africa to be the continent we know it to be.
My Fellowship experience would of course not have been what it was without the Academic Program Directors Dr Sharon Hill, Dr Kim Hoyt and Shereen Bhan. I appreciate them for challenging us to think beyond our comfort zones, and for inspiring, teaching, training, and leading us to be world-changers! I am grateful for the care, love and patience they showed us Fellows.
I also appreciate our official photographers for the duration of the programme (GSU TRAs) Darren Malone and Tyler – they always made us look good in pictures. We were a group that loved taking photos and we appreciate them for the patience that they showed us during our demanding photo op moments.
We also appreciated our drivers Rabb, Charlston and Lamont, who chauffeured us around for the duration of the Fellowship. We are thankful for their extreme patience for our African time tendencies, and we appreciated the thought-provoking conversations during the rides.
Wow – words cannot describe the overwhelming emotions I am feeling. I will miss Atlanta. I will everyone at GSU (AYSPS). I will miss the GSU Fellows. But now I have reason to visit Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho, Cote d’Ivoire and the many other countries represented in our cohort!
GSU! GSU!! GSU!! GSU!!! GSU!! GOOOOOOO PANTHERS!!!
Silindile N. Buthelezi