August 3, 2017
The six (6) week academic and leadership training at Georgia State University has ended and all one thousand (1000) Fellows left their university institutes and flew to Washington DC for the final three (3) day Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. The three (3) days were packed with inspiring Ignite Talks from peer fellows; Partnership Expos; autograph signing from retired professional basketball player Charles “Buck” Williams; Plenary Sessions with Mark Taplin, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Dr Helene Gayle, Norman Moyo, and Frank Sesno; a closing address by Tony Elumelo; skills building sessions including a Grant Writing Workshop; and a “Fellows Got Talent” talent show which saw 15 university institutes performing various skits (Georgia State University made the top 15 and we performed a skit titled “Breaking Stereotypes). The South African Fellows were invited to a Welcome Reception at the South African Embassy in Washington DC where I had the blessed opportunity of meeting Ambassador Mahlangu. We also received our official certificates for the successful completion of the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship.
All in all, it was a great three (3) days – although it was bitter sweet. The Fellowship has been a growth experience of note and all the one thousand (1000) Fellows are grateful to the Fellowship founder – former U.S. President Barack Obama – for creating the fellowship and opening up opportunity for us (young African leaders) to connect and to continue to make a difference in our countries and the African continent as a whole.
Silindile N. Buthelezi