Three secondary school students from Malawi are in the US as part of a group of twenty-eight students from seven African countries under the auspices of the Pan African Youth Leadership Program hosted by the Educational and Cultural Affairs Section of the US Department of State. The students Hellen Kayira, 15 (form 2, Chilumba Secondary School), Chimwemwe Banda, 17 and Walani Ndhlovu, 17 (form 4, Mzuzu Academy), are accompanied by an adult mentor, Mr. Fanuel Mapira, President of the Association for the Teaching of English in Malawi.


The seven countries participating in the 2014 program are Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The program includes a comprehensive overview of US history and culture, as well as many core leadership development facets, including the US system of democratic governance, civic rights and responsibilities in the US, goal-setting, conflict resolution and negotiation, and communication and presentation skills. It targets secondary school students aged 15 to 18 in eligible African countries.


Apart from Washington, D.C., the program will take the students to Muncie, Indianapolis and Chicago, Illinois before they head back home on April 20, 2014. The students will spend two weeks of their three-week visit living with American host families to experience the life of an American teenager in the US.


The adult mentors in the group will be paired with educators from two schools in Muncie, Indianapolis for job shadowing, which will give the mentors first-hand insights into best practices in education administration, curriculum development, and student-teacher relationship. They will also attend a Parent Teacher Association meeting by which they will learn the importance of the parent-teacher relationship and its impact on the students’ overall growth and development.


The Ambassador of Malawi to the US, His Excellency Steve D. Matenje, S.C., met and interacted with the students at a welcoming reception hosted by the Meridian International Centre in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Matenje briefed the students on the role of the Embassy of Malawi to the US and the social and economic development issues that it deals with in the US.


Ambassador Matenje was impressed with the level of knowledge of the students of some of Malawi’s priority development issues, including maternal and reproductive health, the importance of girl education, women empowerment and leadership, and gender equality.


The Meridian International Centre is implementing the program on behalf of the US Department of State.