U.S. Embassy Mali’s First-Ever Exchange Alumni Summit Sparks Collaboration and Community Engagement in Mali

On Saturday, September 29, the U.S. Embassy in Mali welcomed over 150 alumni of U.S. Department of State exchange programs to the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, for the first-ever USG Exchange Alumni Summit in Mali.

The summit brought together alumni from over a dozen U.S. State Department exchange programs, including: the Fulbright Foreign Students and Foreign Scholars programs, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA), the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), Access, and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program. During the summit, the 150 participants networked and collaborated with Embassy staff in small groups to create plans for community service in Mali.

At the opening of the summit, the Public Affairs Officer, Wendy Barton, and the Cultural Affairs Officer, Emma Moros, welcomed alumni invitees to the event and encouraged them to work together for the future of Mali and to build on their experiences in programs that further policy goals such as women’s empowerment, civil society, volunteerism, countering violent extremism, and education. Public Affairs staff explained upcoming opportunities for alumni and how to register to receive alumni updates from the Embassy and the U.S. State Department, before leading alumni through small group work sessions where alumni created basic action plans.

During the closing ceremony, community leader and retired Embassy Cultural Affairs Specialist Gaoussou Mariko, gave remarks in which he reminded alumni that all of the U.S. State Department exchange programs are united in their focus on developing leadership.  Acting Deputy Chief of Mission John Dunham gave the keynote address, recounting the history of U.S. State Department exchange programs, and the global impact of these exchanges to further peace and mutual understanding among nations.  Mr. Dunham underscored the role Malian alumni play in the global community of exchange participants who return to their home countries to make a concrete, positive impact in their communities, serving as engines of social development and peace.

Every year, the U.S. Department of State welcomes over 70 Malian exchange participants to in-person and virtual exchange programs in the United States to develop their leadership skills, as well as their professional and academic qualifications, with the goal of strengthening relations between Mali and the United States; supporting a secure, prosperous Mali; and improving peace and security throughout the Sahel.