(Quick News Africa)- The United States on Thursday said it will send 101 young Nigerians to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington fellowship program.
On arrival, the young Nigerian delegation will stay for six weeks in the North American country, beginning from June 15 to August 3, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Abuja.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and is composed of academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.
A total of 5 out of the 101 fellows will remain in the US at the end of the fellowship for six more weeks of internships.
Through this initiative, 40 US universities will host 1,000 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa for institutes with focus on public management, business and entrepreneurship, as well as civic leadership and, for the second year, a specialized institute on energy.
As part of the pre-departure orientation, the US embassy in Abuja invited four leading Nigerian professionals to participate in a mentoring workshop for the YALI delegates.
They include Frank Nweke of Global Falcons, Tonye Cole, who is the CEO of Sahara Energy; Toyin Saraki of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, and Eyo Bassey of Payporte Global Systems.
Each of the technocrats shared unique perspectives on leadership and opportunity.
“I wish programs like this existed,” Cole remarked when asked what he might have done differently in his career.
Aruna Amirthanayagam, public affairs counselor at the US embassy in Abuja, said more than 22,000 Nigerians applied to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington fellowship program.
However, “after the review by our partner NGO, after a reading by members of the Mission Nigeria community, after an interview in Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Calabar, a total of 101 young Nigerians were selected”, he explained.
Amirthanayagam also said the selected fellows, “along with 899 colleagues from 48 other sub-Saharan countries, will have the opportunity to engage students, professors, and professionals on the campuses of 40 universities, colleges, and institutions across the United States, from the University of San Diego in California to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.”
According to him, “Secretary Tillerson addressed my colleagues at the state department last week about regional issues and said the continent of Africa is a continent of enormous opportunity, and needs and will get, and will continue to receive our attention.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship and the larger YALI program has become the model for exchanges in Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Some of the exchanges include theYoung Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI).