Former Mandela Washington Fellow From Ethiopia Shares Advice for 2018 Applicants

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI) is conducted annually as a merit-based open competition by U.S. Embassies across the African continent. (Photo: Former Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia/US Embassy Addis Ababa)

US Embassy Addis

By Gersam Abera — Assistant Professor of Surgery at Jimma University

Jimma, Ethiopia — I learned about YALI program first from my wife who had joined the YALI group and invited me to join. I used to see email communications and Facebook posts of different African youth who had been impacted by the different programs. My interest was not high enough to actively participate in it until the 2016 MWF when I saw one of my students posting on Facebook about her experience in the US with President Barack Obama. It was then when I paid attention and understood its purpose and goals, which are to inspire and equip young and potential leaders of Africa to better be ready for tomorrow. To be equipped with richer experience and improve my leadership capacity were the two reasons why I applied the MWF 2017.

I stayed at Florida International University for 6 weeks and then in Washington DC for a 3 day summit. I would never trade the time I spent during my MWF experience for anything because it was a rich cross-cultural experience as well as enlightening leadership training course. I learned the vast potential Africa has hidden and unexploited yet in its culture, mineral resources, and untapped youth who are the majority. The networking moments helped me improve my self-confidence and explain about myself better in a limited time. I had fruitful connections from the networks as well. After my stay in US I was determined to come back to my country and get involved in leadership to ensure the limited resource available would be utilized in a more efficient and effective way to better make the service providers as well as the population to be served satisfied in the service.


Former Washington Mandela Fellow Gersam Abera Shares His Experience and Advice for 2018 Applicants.(Photo: US Embassy Addis)

My advice for the MWF 2018 applicants is to follow their passion and dream big because through good self-leadership anything is achievable. As I have explained earlier, my experience at FIU was unforgettable and I am benefiting from it even in my day to day work. So I would like to encourage anyone who is thinking about applying to do it immediately. My further advice for the application itself is to be yourself. The true you who has a big future dream should be expressed in the essays you write. Be bold and clear to show your achievements and aspirations. Write down your essay first time and re-read and re-correct it until you write it in a fewer words but telling all of your inner feelings with the limited word counts given. I would advise you to be serious about the application because there are a lot of youth who are competing for the few spots available. Choose your track wisely. If your future goal and current achievement is inclined to one track than the other, please choose this track which is more related to your current practice. I wish you all the best.


Related:
The 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship
“The fellowship is a game changer” – Abinet Tasew, 2017 Fellow
Meet the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Meet the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

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