President Obama's conversation with the Mandela Washington Fellows

Author: Joya Helmuth

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship culminated in Washington, DC, with all 1000 Fellows from around the country attending the Presidential Summit, highlighted by none other than the President himself. The Fellows spent 90 minutes hearing from and asking questions of the President at a Town Hall. It was the high point of a very exciting week in Washington!…

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A spirit of service

Author: Joya Helmuth

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Some of the most enriching experiences of the Mandela Washington Fellowship are the community service activities that we participate in over the six weeks. Today we went to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, and sorted food in their large facility. The Fellows were impressed with the operation and enjoyed working with the staff on such an important effort!…

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The view from above

Author: Joya Helmuth

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Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, hosted our Fellows for a reception on the top floor of the Hesburgh Library. It provided a beautiful 180-degree view of campus, inside and out!

Father John spoke to the Fellows about his desire to continue and build Notre Dame’s engagement in Africa, and how the Fellows are a big part of helping us do that. He took questions from the Fellows, one of which was a request to bring the Fellows back for a home game during football season!…

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Chicago Highlight: Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan

Author: Joya Helmuth

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We were thrilled to have a special guest on our trip to Chicago. Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan leads the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau for the U.S. Department of State, where the Mandela Washington Fellowship and YALI are based. She was thrilled to engage with the Fellows, and after making some remarks about how important this program is to President Obama, she took plenty of questions from the crowd. And there were many! We loved having her with us and are looking forward to seeing Assistant Secretary Ryan when we come to Washington for the Presidential Summit!…

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The Windy City welcomes the Fellows!

Author: Joya Helmuth

Chicago

We spent a busy two days in Chicago. Most of our time was spent with the Fellows from Northwestern University, Purdue University, and the Indiana University, which was a great reunion for all involved. Before coming to the U.S., the Fellows had met each other at their respective country’s pre-departure orientations held by the U.S. Department of State, so there were many hugs all the way around!…

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A visit with Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Author: Joya Helmuth

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We’re very proud of our mayor here in South Bend, and after being welcomed to the community at our opening reception by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, we visited his turf and heard much more about his work in South Bend. The Fellows had lots of questions, and he was eager to answer and share how his office works with various constituent groups, neighborhoods, and organizations to foster both short-term and long-term change. We look forward to watching Mayor Pete as he continues to transform our community!…

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Politics hits home

Author: Joya Helmuth

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Our day trip to Indianapolis began with a tour of the beautiful Statehouse buildling. We toured the Indiana Supreme Court chamber, the state House and Senate chambers, and the Lieutenant Governor's office, and along the way learned about the architecture and native Indiana limestone found throughout the building. Following the tour, we visited Senator Joe Donnelly's office where State Director Hodge Patel — dressed appropriately in ND shoes — talked about a lot of the intiatives that the Senator's office was involved in, and how the staff works to help consituents on a daily basis.…

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We have a new Presidential nominee!

Author: Joya Helmuth

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The mock convention exercise finished with an energetic an rousing convention in the Jordan Auditorium. Our presidential candidates — Phelane, Charles, Tania, Alex, Esther, George, Nadine, and Levit — campaigned for the nomination over the prior ten days (nearly driving everyone mad in the process, so it was realistic). Because no one reached the necessary delegate count before the start of the convention, it was contested. After three rounds of voting and with the delegates from eventual vice presidential nominee Tania, Charles emerged as the winner, which in this case amounted to an awesome sparkly Uncle Sam top hat!…

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Take me out to the ballgame

Author: Joya Helmuth

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The Fellows were treated to an all-American experience on the eve of July 4. We met up with the Study of the U.S  Institutes cohort at Saint Mary's College, where 20 Fellows had recently arrived from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. After a great meal in the primo spot overlooking Four Winds Field, the group watched the South Bend Cubs as they topped hte Lansing Lugnuts. The highlight was the YALI-SUSI group being featured on the jumbotron singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch. Souvenir hats made the night complete!…

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Motor City and Motown inspiration

Author: Joya Helmuth

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Our first trip out of South Bend was to Detroit, MIchigan, otherwise known as Motor City. It was only fitting that our first site visit was at General Motors, where Notre Dame alum Derrick Coleman '83 welcomed our Fellows with open arms and put on an engaging program with his colleagues in the diversity and human resource offices. From there we visited the heart of downtown, and were treated to a walking tour of the immediate area by Bruce Schwartz, Detroit Ambassador at Quicken Loans. We visited several buildings that Quicken has invested in downtown, and other businesses that have spun off from their efforts to revitatize Detroit. The Fellows were most impressed by their partnership with local government to affect areas of safety as well as real estate and other activities.…

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IBM team visits Notre Dame

Author: Joya Helmuth

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James Kavanaugh, Senior Vice President of Transformation and Operations at IBM, held an engaging session with the Fellows in the classroom at Notre Dame. After an inspiring video on IBM's history and future, which chronicled the company's innovations over the years including the UPC barcode, the ATM, and Watson, in addition to its international growth and diversity efforts. The Fellows had many questions (as they always do), and are hoping Jim has time to come back to campus! IBM is a generous supporter of the YALI program at Notre Dame, and for that we all — team and Fellows alike — are most appreciative.…

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Fellows raft the East Race with Chamber's interns

Author: Joya Helmuth

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It was a beautiful night to take rafts and canoes down the East Race in downtown South Bend. Meeting up with college interns from the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce, the Fellows challenged themselves and each other to ride the rapids and stay afloat! It was a great teambuilding and networking event, followed by pizza sponsored by AM General. …

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A Primer in American Politics

Author: Joya Helmuth

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It's been a tumultuous and fascinating election year so far in 2016. In an effort to sidestep the headlines and dig into American political parties and how things work here, we were honored to have four local politicians visit Notre Dame and present Republican and Democratic platforms to our Fellows:…

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Mendoza College of Business features YALI in their magazine

Author: Joya Helmuth

Mendoza College of Business magazine Yali graphic

Takunda Chingonzo was wearing a shirt with an ND logo as he stood in line at the Indianapolis Black Expo in July. You might guess what happens next: The guy in front of him is a Domer and strikes up a conversation. Chingonzo tells the alum he’s from Zimbabwe on his first trip to the U.S. That he’s studying at Mendoza for six weeks through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellows program. That he’s an entrepreneur with two successful technology startups under his belt and one in development. And that he’s 21 and still in college.…

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Eric's work in Cote d'Ivoire since returning home

Author: Joya Helmuth

Eric volunteering with the Red Cross

We received a welcome update from Eric Koua, Mandela Washington Fellow from the Ivory Coast:

"Since the end of the program, I'm working at Red Cross mainly to sensitize community on Ebola virus by showing how to wash properly the hands. In addition, I was invited in local Radio to explain the importance of YALI program. I was also invited last week to give conference on Climate Change and environment issues by NGO on garbage recycling and Environment cleaning.…

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Notre Dame Fellow Takunda Chingonzo interviews President Obama

Author: Joya Helmuth

Notre Dame Fellow Takunda Chingonzo interviews President Obama

The youngest Mandela Washington Fellow at age 21, our own Takunda Ralph Michael Chingonzo was chosen to interview President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit today. Focusing on business, Takunda’s questions were direct, insightful, and challenging, and President Obama clearly relished meeting this young African leader. Keep watching… this is not the last time you’ll hear of TK!…

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The First Lady encourages African men to raise up women and girls

Author: Joya Helmuth

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A highlight of the Summit, Michelle Obama's passionate and inspiring remarks to the Mandela Washington Fellows focused on the education of women and girls. She said, "The status of women in Africa is...personal to me as a woman...I am who I am today because of the people in my family—particularly the men in my family—who valued me and invested in me from the day I was born." Mrs. Obama encouraged all of the African leaders in the crowd to support their wives, sisters, and daughters, and treat them as their equal.…

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“Sharing a Coke” at Notre Dame

Author: Joya Helmuth

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Carlos Pagoaga, Global Community Affairs Director at The Coca-Cola Company, came to Notre Dame bearing gifts for the Fellows and YALI team: personalized cans of Coke! It was a nice surprise to kick off the final week of the institute at Notre Dame, and to hear about Coke’s work around the globe—clearly one of the world’s most global companies, they operate in over 200 countries, and invest over $100 million annually through 20 Coca-Cola foundations across the world.…

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Bart Peterson discusses Eli Lilly’s work in the US and around the globe

Author: Joya Helmuth

The Fellows from Notre Dame began their Indianapolis site visits at the corporate headquarters of Eli Lilly and Company

The Fellows from Notre Dame began their Indianapolis site visits at the corporate headquarters of Eli Lilly and Company. Former Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson, now the Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Communications at Lilly, discussed the pharmaceutical business that Lilly is doing in many countries, its work on increasing access to medicines, and the research into medications and treatments in the areas of diabetes and tuberculosis.…

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