Mandela Washington Fellowship Program

In June, Rutgers’ Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA) began hosting a group of talented young African leaders for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, an initiative of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). These fellows are between the ages of 25 and 35 and working to progress social change in sub-Saharan Africa through entrepreneurship, advocacy, and community service. The fellowship is intended to provide them with the skills and the know-how to advance their goals when they return to their home countries.
The U.S. State Department asked the GAIA Centers to coordinate a “peer collaborator” program as part of the fellowship experience. This program matched individuals with Fellows who share the same field of study and experiences.  The pair then meet informally once a week for six weeks.

Rutgers sought Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to participate in this program which started at the end of June and several volunteered to do so.  Initial communication and some meetings have taken place to date. According to one of the Fellows, “The session was very informal and friendly so I felt really calm and happy about the whole experience. We talked about passion and inspiration. We talked about our respective works as well. We have been having an email conversation ever since and I am truly grateful. She is also trying very hard to put me in contact with important people that are engaged in similar works.”

Thanks to Greg Costalas, a Senior Program Coordinator at the GAIA Centers, for reaching out to RPCV-NJ for collaboration on this project and for the NJ RPCVs who are participating in the program.
If you’d like to know more about the Peer Collaborator program or wish to volunteer for this opportunity next summer, please reach out to Greg Costalas at

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