One Year Later
Since returning home from Philadelphia, what has been your most successful achievement or accomplishment related to leadership in civic engagement?
I think my most successful achievement has been that I was selected to serve on the board of the Namibia-United States Alumni Association. It has meant that I have been able to engage with many of the alumni. I am also involved in civic engagement with the organization that I work with which is the Namibia Media Information Literacy Learning Initiative (MiLLi for short) where we are working on different initiatives such as creating video content for Covid-19 and how it has impacted us and send a message of what people need to do for safety measures. We do live-streaming on Facebook connected to how, young people specifically, can have hope and be able to continue with persistence in what they want to do. We want to make sure that with Covid-19 they are not being distracted or losing hope because of the situation of Coronavirus.
How have you engaged with fellow MWF alumni since returning home?
I would say that within Namibia, I have not collaborated with a lot of other Alumni yet. There is one Namibian alumni named Teopolina, and we are trying to collaborate to go to the eastern part of Namibia to have a day with the children living on the streets to help and encourage them and so forth, but it has not happened yet. With other alumni, I worked on a panel with Ndey from The Gambia, where we did a panel on the impact of Covid-19 to the creative industry. It was online with the Gambian American Council Center and it included other fellows from Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia. In the same panel there was also a Namibian 2018 Mandela Fellow Alum who was part of the discussion. I am also collaborating with a fellow from Tanzania, where we wanted to work on a project but it has not materialized. I am also still in touch a lot with Zayithwa, because she is my accountability partner from Drexel, so her and I keep in contact about what we are up to and keep each other accountable.
Have you maintained contact with people from the Philadelphia area, if so, who and how?
Yes, I will say that I am still in contact with Kwaku from Lancaster Avenue, we catch up and talk about what we are up to. Marilou and I are constantly engaged and she is currently helping me with and giving me advice on intellectual property, something I have been more interested and wanting to learn more about in connection with the creative industry. I am in touch with Francis who always came to Drexel for trainings. She does not have a cell phone so we keep mailing each other things like post cards or via email. Stephanie, as well, who was my mentor at Drexel. We have kept engaging with each other especially on social media.
What do you miss most about Philadelphia and Drexel?
I miss the LeBow office and waking up every morning to go there. I miss Starbucks and Millennium House where we stayed, those are the places that I missed. But I would say on another component is that I miss the hospitality of Drexel and in Philadelphia. The people that are consistant and passionate about helping each other, always willing to help me. Another thing was the fast internet connectivity. Most of all just generally the information and connections that I gained.
Talk about your 3 biggest take-aways from your time at Drexel and the Fellowship.
I think the first is the volunteerism. Americans and people in Philadelphia seemed passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community.
Secondly, the importance of networking. Every event, people connected you and you had to meet people and that was the way that you are able to find the people that can help you in what you are doing.
Lastly, about transparency and openness. In Namibia, we have such strong cultural norms that we do not always have this transparency in society and the takeaway is that you need to be open, honest, and transparent about feelings and information, whether good or bad.
What would you pass on to future Drexel fellowship cohorts?
Remain open minded – we are all different people with different backgrounds and different beliefs – but be open minded because it is the best way to learn and know more. Network as much as you can! Build your group and utilize the people that will be able to help you. Remember your roots – what you do with that education that you get at Drexel will be brought back to the people in your home country that are looking up to you.