From June 7th to July 15th, the Mandela Washington Fellows stayed in Iowa City as part of the U.S. Government Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This group of 24 young leaders represented 17 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and were the first Fellows we hosted in-person since 2019. They are business entrepreneurs with a wide variety of areas of interest including agriculture, IT, education, community development, manufacturing, health and medical issues, women and girl issues, media, and more. Their visit was full of cultural experiences, professional meetings, service, and exchange with local community members.
After orientation, the Fellows were given walking tours of Downtown Iowa City by volunteers. On the 13th, they were the guests of honor at a Meet and Greet reception at the Hilton Garden Inn Ballroom in Iowa City, where they enjoyed hors d’oevres, light refreshments, and met local community members.
On the 15th, the Fellows enjoyed Iowa Table dinners with hosts throughout the community. Later that week, they met with the Iowa City government, and took a trip to Kalona Historical Society for a cultural excursion. There, they enjoyed tours of the village and countryside, as well as a family style Mennonite meal.
On the 24th, the Fellows volunteered with Matthew 25 in Cedar Rapids, and the next day they took a trip to the Herbert Hoover Museum in West Branch.
For their third full week in Eastern Iowa, the Fellows participated in professional development with the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. This week also was packed with community service at the Catherine McAuley Center and Central Furniture Rescue, as well as fun and games at Global Ties Iowa’s Celebration of Citizen Diplomacy picnic. Many Fellows also explored the Iowa City Jazz Festival and saw the city’s Independence Day fireworks on July 2nd.
To kick off their final weekend in Eastern Iowa, the Fellows took a trip to Cedar Rapids to visit the Mother Mosque, lunch at NewBo City Market, and see the Cedar Rapids Pride Parade. The day before the end of their program, we hosted a Farewell Dinner in their honor. This night was spent celebrating their accomplishments, enjoying a delicious plated dinner, and dancing to send them off.
Thank you to our volunteers Jeanne Stoakes, Alisa Meggitt, Andrew Farley, Steve Merkel-Hess, Ann Marie Drop, Marianne Weiss, Liz Bergeron, Alan Bergeron, Rachel Lacy, Ann Thomas, Cecilia Roudabush, Alice Atkinson, Kathy Fait, Amy Alice Chastian, Marisol Flores, Jane Murphy, Fernand Bila, Ebenezer Adeyemi, Evalee Mickey, Jay Gilchrist, Peter Kaboli, Hannah Kaboli, Amanda McFadden, Jayne Finch, Rami Abu-Hijleh, Zayn Finch, Ken Royar, Gayle Royar, Ann Houlahan, and Holly Harris for making the Fellows’ time here special!