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Ten South Sudanese to receive MWF 2023’s training in US

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

Ten South Sudanese are expected to travel to Washington, D.C, United States of America, for the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) to attend six-week training on leadership.

The MWF is a program funded by the US government for young African leaders to learn skills and gain knowledge in diverse dimensions of life.

As the US Embassy bids farewell to fellows in Juba, on Wednesday, the Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Moulik D. Berkana, highlighted the opportunities that the program offers.

“We are here to commemorate the MWF, which is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This was started back in 2010 under the then President Obama and is continuing.” He explained.

“It is now in its 13th year, and YALI has three tracks: the YALI online network within South Sudan, the YALI regional fellowship in Nairobi, Kenya, and the MWF,” he continued.

Moulik said the celebration was farewell for the ten South Sudanese going to the US on a six-week program.

“They are scheduled to leave in June, so we are very excited to support these young people in having the opportunity to go to the US for six weeks,” he added.

Moulik reiterated that the program covers all African nations, with about seven hundred participants annually who are crossing to the US, including ten representatives from South Sudan.

“It is a significant contribution from the US government, and we are excited to send these to South Sudan,” he stressed.

He further recalled that since 2010, about 90 South Sudanese have benefited from the program, adding that during distraction in the COVID period the program became virtual.

“Last year, we were able to send about 15 fellows to the US; five of those were because of the COVID times, and they travelled the following year. So, each we send about 10 participants,” said Moulik.

He also revealed that some of the alumni of the program are now, by luck, working at the US Embassy in Juba, and urged other fellows to take up similar opportunities.

“We have a few fellows who are now working at the embassy, but that is a kind of coincidence. But that’s an opportunity for careers that fellows can peruse once they are back in South Sudan,” he added.

Moulik also highlighted that the criteria for selection of the candidates, is based on merit.

“They rank candidates based on their range of practice in previous experiences, their project ideas, community services, and potential leadership for future accomplishment” he explained.

He added that candidates are also ranked according to their performance based on the list at the embassy during interviews.

The US Embassy Public Affairs Officer advised the fellows to behave to the maximum and stay focused to meet the core of the program while they will be in the US for the six weeks.

Mr. Joseph Oliver Wani, alumni of the MWF for the year 2017, also briefed the participants about the tracks that fellows always take when accessing the opportunity.

He said, during time in the US for the program, he met a lot of people of different calibers, which gave him a chance to expand his capacity and start picking up back home.

“I expanded my network through events that gathered, especially businesspeople, from Africa and the USA, and that expanded my knowledge on how to go about social entrepreneurship,” he explained.

Oliver bestowed his trust upon the fellows who are yet to attend a similar program that they will make up to another level after the training.

“I am also hopeful that when they come back, with the experience that they will gain, they will do more of the same, and the trend will keep going, and we will have a good network of the people who are so good at changing this country,” said Oliver.

He urged the fellows to stay focused because the first thing to do is set sights on what they want to achieve.

“It’s not all about going there, moving around, getting excited; you should also be excited about knowing something new that you think you can incorporate with what is needed in South Sudan,” he cautioned.

Golo Boyoi Gola, President of the National Youth Union and one of the fellows for the MWF2023, expressed his ambition for the next step he is about to take.

“I believe this is not the end; this is just the beginning, and I really need to develop my skills and knowledge in order to take big advantage and tasks in the government,” he said.

Adeng Kornelio Koriom Mayik, another alumna of the YALI Regional Fellowship that is held three times a year in Nairobi, Kenya, and a fellow of the MWF2023, is pleased of University of Georgia for Civic Leadership track.

She put emphasis on how the world is thrilling towards digital and that such a program would help South Sudan join the digital world.

“Since the entire world is moving towards a digital shift, South Sudan is not going to be exceptional; it is good to have journalists that have skills in digital and multi-media reporting,” she noted.

Koriom believes that the Mandela Washington Fellowship has made him a stronger and better leader, and that has challenged him to think outside the box.

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