Beginning last Friday, July 1, the Mandela/Washington Fellowship for Young Africa Leaders kicked off American Independence Day Celebrations at South Boston’s Paraclete Center. The Celebrations were held in McDevitt Hall, newly named (Friday, June 17) by The Paraclete for Southie resident Paul McDevitt.
The Paraclete was one of the sites selected to work in partnership with Cambridge College, which is located just outside of Harvard Square. The South Boston location was chosen because it is a good host site for demonstrating community service to the visiting Nelson Mandela Fellows. Cambridge College is conducting a six-week institute for academics and leadership for 25 Mandela Fellows, who are some of Africa’s brightest young business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Approximately 1,000 of these Fellows came to the United States this summer, as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Cambridge College agreed to host 25 of them for this six-week institute. When the six weeks are complete, they’ll return to Washington for a Summit Meeting. Many of them will stay longer, for further professional development with private corporations, public agencies, and certain NGOs.
The credentials these Mandela Fellows possess are quite impressive. Despite their youthful ages, which range from 25 to 35, three-quarters of them hold mid-level or executive positions in their respective nations. Half of them have earned a graduate degree; over one-third of them operate their own businesses. For almost all of the Fellows, this is their first visit to America.
Eileen DeMichele, the Executive Director of the Paraclete Center, expressed her delight in having 25 Fellows as guests, saying, “We were extremely excited to welcome … the Fellows for a day of service and community building … our students had the opportunity to listen and learn about faraway lands and how educational and business systems work in Africa.”