During the 2014 President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Summit in Washington D.C., the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Collaboratory and Alumni Affairs Division engaged with the first class of Mandela Washington Fellows. The 500 exceptional young leaders from Africa were welcomed to their new alumni community with resources for further engagement such as the newly minted YALI Alumni website, direct contact with alumni coordinators, virtual engagement toolkits that enable alumni to access the internet in low-bandwidth areas, and information on regional Connect Camps for innovation and social change.
The Collaboratory also invited fellows to share feedback at an interactive brainstorming wall. What emerged from the brainstorm: “Top Ten” lists to highlight the fellows’ goals for mentorship and volunteerism in their communities; their surprise by the culture of servant leadership in the United States; and above all else, a strong sense of optimism and drive. According to one fellow, the biggest challenge they face is “deciding which wonderful idea to run with first.”