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Mandela Washington Fellowship Visits Charles Martin Youth Center

Photographed by Marcus Snowden 2015 The 25 Notre Dame Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI-ND) visiting fellows (42)

Guest Article by Sheena Shah, SBH Intern

The Washington-Mandela scholars’ visit was a learning experience for everyone. It was a very informal event during which people could move among tables to speak with the scholars at their own pace. All of the scholars were happy to share their country and culture and explain their startup. As the only attendee younger than each of the scholars, it was exciting to see the passion of so many people in one room and make connections with each of them. It was fairly obvious to the scholars that I had no assets to invest in their startups, but they were still excited to tell me about how their project would have an impact back home. They were willing to listen to me and my plans for the future and used their own experiences to provide advice on how I could achieve my goals.

One woman’s story was especially relatable for a young student like me. She spoke about her dream to study software programming and her struggle with finding a way to use her education to benefit society. Her advice was to study what you love, and the rest will find its way. For her, it was through creating a mobile software interface that will provide financial and banking assistance to rural people who have no access to bank branches. A resonating statement around the room was “We are not here to stay. We’re here to learn, then go back home and improve our countries” Overall, the event left me with two new goals: First, find a way to make a difference in my own community, and second, visit Africa!

Thanks Sheena, – we appreciate your efforts this summer at South Bend Heritage.

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