The journey continues...

Becoming a Mandela Washington Fellow – Part I

Where do I even begin? 2019 was a really tough year for me and you can read my story below on the events that led to that year being a difficult one to get through.

Honestly, I don’t remember how I came across the application information for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, but it was on social media. Thank God for social media! I quickly started doing research on what the program entailed and the eligibility requirements. I then came across a post from a high school mate who was offering assistance to anyone who wanted to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. I reached out to her and what I can say is that she became an awesome coach. I also watched countless YouTube videos posted by Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni and I got good tips.

Apply to be Mandela Washington Fellow

While I was busy with that, my son fell ill and I had to travel to attend to him because my mom was out of the country. He eventually got well and went back to school but I took a few more days off from work. I also took this time to work on my application. I had downloaded the preparatory document with short essay questions so I thoughtfully wrote my answers in a notebook. I did this so I could review them a few days later for polishing and early submission. I then came back to Harare a day before my mom returned as I needed to return to work.

A few days later, I sat down to review my application only to find that I didn’t have my notebook. I dreaded starting over because I felt my draft responses had the story I wanted to tell so I called my mom. She found my notebook and made a plan to scan and send the pages to me. She also made a plan to send the notebook to Harare. She did the most, bless her.

I then submitted my application well on time and the wait began. Let’s track back a bit, remember that thing that resulted in a difficult year, if you haven’t read the post, you should because it will give you some context. After the incident, I struggled with anxiety and that also affected my performance at work. Consequently, I was passed up for promotion and the reasons cited were that I had slowed down in my enthusiasm and needed to be consistent. However, through that turmoil I managed to bounce back. You can imagine what kind of a story I had to tell in my application when they asked this question:

"Describe a specific instance when you made a mistake or encountered a setback that helped you grow as a leader. What did you do and how are you applying those lessons learned in your current work?"

I wrote my story passionately because even though I was expected to heal and get better in a few months it took me longer. I cried everyday because I kept thinking of the pressure that was coming from work regarding my performance. I was ready to down my tools and walk out but I stayed, till I got better. I did my best everyday, just that my best was less than my usual capacity. That’s what kept me going. On some days, just waking up and being able to show up in the office was a win and it was my best for that day.

Fast forward to January, I was still in the office way past knock off time. I had learnt my lesson and since I still didn’t have a car my employer organised transport to get me home safely if I had to work late even though my place is 5 minutes away from the office. I was walking to the printer chatting on WhatsApp when an e-mail popped up. I ran back to the office shouting (with joy) and everyone wondered what had happened. So, I had to tell them that I had gotten an interview for this amazing leadership program. Since the interview was on a working day, I had to excuse myself for a few hours. My interview was at 11:30a.m so my supervisor suggested that I come to work after the interview and take the morning to relax.

Next thing, COVID-19 happened and we went into lockdown. We were now worried about the outcome of the interviews. An announcement was then sent notifying us that they would start sending interview outcomes from the 30th of March (I don’t quite remember the exact date so I could be wrong). I was anxiously waiting and it was now the 1st of April. I was on my lunch break when the e-mail came in saying,

Congratulations! You have been chosen to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

I can’t even begin to describe my reaction but I cried, tears of joy. I had made it even though we had to defer to 2021 because of COVID-19. I was just thankful that I was in. I always wanted to attend a leadership program and God exceeded my expectations. Click here to read on how my expectations were exceeded.

As I always say!

Let's connect on social media

Author

nono@nononyathi.co.zw
I am a weird and wonderful young lady who loves beautiful things. I love writing because as Anne Frank puts it, "Paper is more patient than people".

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: