The closure of phase one of the Eisenhower Fellowship!
nitiation to the fellowship which started seven weeks ago has come to an end. This marks the end of the USA journey but also marks the start of a life long fellowship. The biggest question now is what next? But before that, let us look into the closure rituals of the fellowship that happened last week.
The closure seminar took place last week and this was another fantastic moment where all the 24 African fellows assembled in New York city to go through the rituals of close out. Normally the seminar is held in Philadelphia, which is activities that included all the fellows, staff of EF as well as the trustees and friends of the Fellowship. The program officers were not allowed to book any additional meetings to ensure presence of all the African fellows and therefore no hitches.
During this last week, the fellows were expected to submit a report of commitments and activities that each fellow is going to undertake in the short-run. There is absolutely no pressure from Eisenhower Fellowships on what should be implemented as the fellowship acknowledges that the participants are leaders who are determined to change the world and hence should not be pushed to do so. The report also provides information that the Eisenhower Fellowships uses to measure value for money and develop stories as well as cases for the fellowship.
The main venue for the last week’s program was the City College of New York (CCNY). CCNY is located in Harlem, Manhattan and the city campus is along Convent Avenue. The college has a decorated history and is known as the "Harvard of the proletariat” because it has graduated more Nobel Prize winners than any other public university in the United States. The architectural design of the college depicts its rich history. We were hosted at CCNY by the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. Colin Powell who is an alma mater of CCNY is also the Chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowship, and therefore he was part of the closure program.
The the closure program revolved around sharing of experiences by all the fellows in the past seven weeks. All the 24 leaders were involved in a story telling exercise which showed the transformation power available to take Africa to the next level. The unofficial theme of the meeting was “take your candle” based on the song by Chris Rice, Go Light Your World. The ambitions of the fellows are diverse and as you can imagine each of the 24 fellows have at least two projects to implement. From changing health systems and policies, climate change, setting up acute care medical centers in Ghana to girls’ education is South Africa, were some of the commitments made by fellows. The sessions were also a good opportunity to forge synergies at least for the purposes of implementation. Various coalitions as well as an umbrella coordination organ for the African Fellows with the hope of changing livelihoods in Africa are in the making as a result of the meetings in NYC.
General Colin Powell addressed the fellows and encouraged us to soldier on in transforming our continent. General Powell was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.
General Powell reminded us that we need to rededicate ourselves in whatever we do and ensure that we see a better Africa. We also learnt that General Powell was very instrumental in the establishment of the African program as a way of having the fellowship doing more for the African continent.
The climax of the closing seminar was the Pin night. This is an event that each fellow is presented with a pin ad as well as the certificate declaring the fellows as fellows for life. Next time when we meet, you will defiantly be able to notice the Eisenhower Pin as this is ultimate sign of membership to the club.