14 September 2017 The U.S. Embassy welcomes home the four young leaders and their mentor from the northern Mali region of Gao. The group arrived Early September to Mali after spending three weeks in the United States as part of the Pan African Youth Leadership Program (PAYLP) program. This dynamic youth leadership program brings together students from across Africa with adult mentors for a three week U.S.-based training and cultural exchange. The program strengthens the students’ understanding of citizen engagement, tolerance, and volunteerism, all critical for the future of educational opportunities and stability in central Mali.
Before heading back to Gao, the five alumni met with the Public Affairs Officer and Senior Cultural Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako to discuss action plans and civic engagement initiatives that they are planning in Gao with the new knowledge they gained through the program. The young people expressed their gratitude for the unique opportunity and shared the community focused projects they intend to develop in Gao. They admired the can do, practical American approach to accomplishing goals and said that the experience gave them hands-on concrete skills to use in the future.
PAYLP, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, offered this unique opportunity for the Gao participants to explore themes such as entrepreneurship, civic education, youth leadership, economic development, and respect for diversity. Through three-week of intensive exchanges in the United States, participants engaged in workshops, community site visits related to the program themes and subthemes, interactive training in conflict resolution, presentations, visits to high schools, local cultural activities, and homestays with local American families. The group was energized by the experience and said they are ready to serve and work for positive change, volunteerism, and citizen involvement in northern Mali.