Masters student selected for international leadership programme

30 Sep 2014 - 13:15

Political Studies Masters student Sihle Nontshokweni, was selected by the South Africa –Washington International Programme to represent South Africa in a six month leadership programme which took place in Washington, DC. The programme extends only 15 places to young South Africans each year.

Founded in 2007, the South Africa–Washington International Programme SAWIP is aimed at the personal and professional development of youth leaders. Its vision is to help establish a pool of individuals who posess global a perspective and exposure and, who serve others in their community with humility and integrity.  In order to be selected for SAWIP, candidates are required to be South African citizens under the age of 25 years, in their second year of academic study and posess a record of excellence and service from their home universities. Currently, students are recruited from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and the Western Cape.

The programme consists of morning work placements in top institutions which include the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Capitol Hill, Centre for Strategic International Studies and John Snow International, a health consulting firm where Nontshokweni was placed. The evenings are occupied with networking sessions, consisting of high profiled US professionals focusing on US to SA relations, Africa foreign policy and the history of other world powers. Furthermore, weekend engagement sessions were supplemented with excursions to landmark memorials, libraries and museums. Recruits also travelled to New York were they met with the SA Consulate & SA businesses operating in the US.

“Another element of the programme which I enjoyed was SAWIP’s community engagement project. As such, myself and other SAWIP electives are currently implementing a smaller scale version involving students from Philippi, Khayelitsha and Manenberg. This is synonymous with SAWIP’s values of promoting service orientated leadership” says Sihle Notshokweni.

For Nontshokweni, the opportunity to engage in the SAWIP initiative was undoubtedly one of her most exciting and demanding achievements thus far. She says that the experience challenged her to engage confidently with some of the brightest young minds in debating how the country should move forward and included some on delicate issues of race, history, governance, leadership redistribution policies and social entrepreneurship. She describes SAWIP as a launching pad that hones both personal, thought and people leadership.

“As a young researcher, my scope of expertise is still limited. However this does not mean that my opinion is thin. What SAWIP has taught me is the importance of appreciating my own reason, rational and critique of an argument. This is essential in my own work and in the papers that I intend to publish from the work that I am engaged in at UCT’s Centre for Social Science Research.  What is more, the exposure I have gained through SAWIP truly makes you believe that you can, make a difference. ”