THE American Embassy in Windhoek is searching for young Namibians interested in this year's exchange programme for the "Washington Fellowship of the President's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)." Although there are already a number of young Namibians who have applied, the embassy says there is still room for more Namibians in the programme.
The American Cultural Centre is hosting open sessions to help those interested in applying for the programme and the open sessions would go on until January 22. The deadline to apply in the programme is January 27. Applicants should take along photo identity card or passport. "This exchange programme will enable Namibians to join more than 500 young African leaders to visit the United States in mid-2014 as part of a fellowship," said a statement from the U.S. Embassy. The fellowship includes a prestigious "six-week summer leadership institute at a U.S. college or university campus with three thematic tracks, namely business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public administration, a presidential summit for all participants in Washington, DC, internships in the United States for approximately 100 of the 500 participants, awarded on a competitive basis, following the six-week leadership institute, as well as follow-on activities for all participants on the continent after they return home, to engage with additional African youth, as well as networking opportunities, internships, small grants and other activities to assist the young leaders to further their careers and maintain strong ties with the United States."
U.S. president Barack Obama announced the programme in June 2013 saying, "We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries, but around the world... Africa's future belongs to its young people." The initiative directly supports Namibia's Vision 2030 by encouraging leadership and development to propel economic growth and prosperity, and strengthen democratic institutions. U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Priscilla Hernandez said the Washington Fellowship is an initiative "born of past successful exchanges in which young Africans, Namibians included, travelled to the United States, shared their viewpoints with President Obama, and created a network with other African leaders that enabled them to return to their countries and launch community service initiatives."
Patrick Sam from Namibia participated in the 2010 President's Forum for Young African Leaders in Washington DC. Since his return from the programme, Patrick seized the opportunity to complete his Master's degree in International Education Systems on a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship at the prestigious Columbia University. Michael Mulunga participated in 2010 as well and had this advice for young Namibian leaders, "It is a great experience to go to the U.S. and to meet other young African leaders like yourself with which you share a common vision of developing your communities. The YALI programme is a great platform to have the opportunity to meet the U.S. president and to participate in the different programs offered." Applicants must be able to speak, read, and write proficiently in English, be aged between 25-35 years at the time of submitting their applications, although exceptional candidates younger than 25 will be considered. They must have a proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business or entrepreneurship, or civic engagement, demonstrate a commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship, and be committed to return to Africa and contribute their skills and talents to build and serve their communities.