YALI Camp 11 in Botswana
YALI Connect Camp 11 in Botswana
by Alena Klimas
In late March, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Connect Camp 11 brought together innovative leaders from around central and eastern Africa to work on mentoring, networking, and community specific issues. The YALI Connect Camps are administered four times a year in four regions of sub-Saharan Africa, funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute for International Journalism at Ohio University. This Connect Camp was made up of participants from Mauritius, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The projects presented at the camps tackle social and capacity building issues such as youth development, public health, legal advising, and financial literacy.
Dr. Millesen of the Voinovich School of Ohio University was the one of the main facilitator for the first days of the week. Dr. Millesen specializes in leadership NGO and nonprofits. She worked with the students on strategy, on creating a business canvas, and on implementation of their projects. She says “each time a camp starts I’m curious how Camps can get better and every time I am amazed. Each camp has unique personality and feel from participants. And it is always a valuable learning experience for me as well”. The energy from participants made sessions flow well during iteration and ideation.
On the first day, Dr. Millesen mapped the interests and questions of the participants using the sticky note exercise. Participants proposed topics such for ideation pertaining to mentorship and networking. In the course of the week, participants goals and objectives were fulfilled. This activity shaped the Connect Camp so that they could get the most useful seminars for their goals and objectives.
Throughout the week, pairs representing each country, presented their projects and their respective country background. This time allowed other participants to learn about each others projects in a more formal way. These sessions demonstrated the diversity of each of the participants and their projects. As hosts, the Batswana participants showcased their traditional food and clothing around to all of the participants.
On day four of the camp, Dr. Mame Yauto Faye presented a session on strategic communication and leadership. Her presentation drawing from her professional experience and area of expertise. This was her third YALI Connect Camp experience. Her session challenged participants to reflect on their communication strategies.
During the final day, two mentors led discussion sessions on mentoring and mentorship programs that they run in their respective countries. Marietta Agathe, a mentor from Mauritius, began her mentorship by partnering with young adults in the country to learn more about the dreams and aspirations of the mentees. Martin Muganzi, a mentor from Uganda, developed his mentorship program from the non-profit Youth Rising. The session demonstrated the aspirations of many of the mentors and mentees in YALI Connect Camp 11 to go back and start mentorship programs of their own.
The closing event was held in Mokolodi Nature Reserve. The participants were given their certificates by Tim Smith, Deputy Ambassador from the US Embassy Gaborone. The Deputy Ambassador underscored the importance of inspiring and empowering young African leaders and reiterated the US government’s goals and objectives of working with young African leaders. Following the camp, some the participants are discussing ways to stay connected or start a multinational project.