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"The Loop" Blog

Mandela Washington Fellows: Week One Reflection

Last week, a group of Mandela Washington Fellows arrived in the city of Manhattan, Kansas for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), hosted by the Staley School of Leadership at Kansas State University. This remarkable group of young African leaders are here for a six-week Civic Leadership Institute. Throughout the course of the institute, the Staley School will facilitate opportunities for cultural exchange and leadership development to advance the work of each Fellow by growing their capacity to lead change upon return to their home countries.

The fellows officially started their journey to leadership empowerment on Monday, June 19, where a group of outstanding campus and community partners joined the Staley School at the opening reception to welcome the fellows to Kansas State University and the city of Manhattan.

After introductory remarks from assistant director Trisha Gott and director Mary Hale Tolar, Grant Chapman, on behalf of the K-State Office of International Programs, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to host the fellows in our community. He emphasized that K-State is home to many international students and partners and takes pride in its efforts for diversity and inclusion. Grant Chapman concluded his remarks with the video from the “you are welcome” national campaign led on campus by the International Student and Scholar Services. City of Manhattan Mayor, Usha Reddi, echoed Grant’s message of welcome and inclusion in her remarks and reassured the fellows of her availability during their stay: “I am available, I am accessible, and I look forward to visit with each and everyone of you,” she said. And the closing keynote was delivered by Governor John W. Carlin, who shared a message on the importance of citizen engagement in efforts for change. We are grateful for our community partners who came to formally welcome the Mandela Fellows and have committed make this year’s Civic Leadership Institute an outstanding learning experience for everyone involved. 

On Tuesday, June 20, the fellows dove into their curriculum. They were introduced to the Staley School and received an orientation to the first module of their civic leadership courses. Throughout the week, the fellows learned about community building, leadership coaching, framing academic work, and service leadership; they engaged in discussions on several issues such as gender, sexual assault, and discrimination.

Trisha Gott facilitating the orientation

In observance to World Sickle Cell Day on June 19, Tusuubira Sharifu Kiragga mobilized the group to create a campaign for awareness of the disease. Worldwide, Sickle Cell Disease constitutes a significant burden that is not amply addressed. It is estimated that 400,000 children are born annually with this condition. Sadly, the greatest burden exists in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 75% of the world sickle cell disease occurs. For Uganda, Tusuubira who lives with sickle cell testifies that his country has one of the highest burdens on Africa. Together, the fellows mobilized their actions to voice out their message of support to victims of Sickle Disease in Africa and around the world: “As fellows at Kansas State University, we call upon our respective leaders to act against this silent killer and we pledge our support towards efforts of promoting the well-being of people living sickle cell disease in our respective communities.” The Fellows posted pictures on social media holding signs with messages such as ‘we stand for inclusion with people living with sickle cell disease’ like in the picture below.

Follow the hashtags  #MandelaFellows, #YALI2017#KStateYALI, or #TogetherwestandagainstSickleCellDiseaseinAfrica to see more photos of the fellows. You can also read more about World Sickle Cell Day here.

Mandela Fellows group commemorates World Sickle Cell Day at K-State

Beyond the classroom, the fellows took advantage of the beautiful weather on Friday, June 19, to explore Konza Prairie accompanied by Staley School staff.

They also visited the Flint Hills Discovery Center where they engaged in a conversation about the role such anchor institution in civic and economic revitalization.

It was especially exciting the Fellows to have lunch with K-State President, Richard B. Myers on Monday, June 19. This was an opportunity for the President to connect with the Fellows and get to know their work and aspirations. The Fellows were humbled by the President’s visit, as some of them noted that it is quite an unusual opportunity to interact with a higher ranked administrator in their countries.

Group selfie with K-State President, Richard B. Myers

The fellows continue to learn and network. It has been a pleasure to see them feel at home, and we appreciate all our partners who contribute to make this learning process an enjoyable experience for the Fellows. We are looking forward to more opportunities to engage this group of young leaders with K-State, Manhattan, and Kansas during their six weeks here.

Fellow Marcella Katjijova networking at the opening reception

See more photos from the 2017 Civic Leadership Institute in our Facebook Photo Album, and keep up-to-date on the current happenings at the Institute through our hashtag, #KStateYALI, on Twitter and Facebook!


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