My name is Nakawala Mirembe Flavia, a third year student of Medical Laboratory Sciences (BMLS) at Clarke International University. I am currently serving as the representative for BMLS on the Students’ Guild, a Minister of State for Information, a treasurer for the Divine Mercy Catholic Community and a volunteer with Uganda Sickle Cell Rescue Foundation.
In December 2017, a friend shared a link with me that was calling for applications for Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI) on Women’s Leadership. The program was looking out for young women leaders between 18 and 25 years of age who were already serving in positions of leadership at their institutions. Given the leadership opportunities that CIU had availed me, I went ahead and submitted my application. It was a highly competitive process and I was among the lucky four ladies who were chosen from Uganda.
I was beyond excited when I received this news because we were to spend 5 weeks on a fully paid trip to the United States during the summer of 2018.
The SUSI Women’s Leadership Program brings together 80 young women leaders from over 22 countries across the globe to engage them in emerging issues of the day, cultivate their leadership skills, inspire them to more community service and development through mentorship, as well as experience cultural diversity.
We arrived in the United States on Saturday 23rd June at Dulles International Airport and drove to Washington DC where we met other vibrant and eloquent ladies for a discussion on Women’s Leadership. We also participated in group cultural activities that included touring major historic Sites such as The White House, The World Bank headquarters, the Capitol Hill that houses the Congress and House of Representatives, the US Supreme Court the Independence Monument among others. We rode on the metro; an underground train service that operates Washington DC, and were able to try out intercontinental cuisines as well.
After spending a week together in DC, we proceeded to our respective host institutions. 20 ladies from 6 African countries of Kenya, Zambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D’ivoire and Uganda were hosted by the University of Delaware.
Delaware is a small state that is found at the East coast of the United States of America. We quickly felt at home because we had such wonderful peer mentors and professors. A basic day included attending lectures, where we learnt more on American History, servant leadership, critical thinking and decision making, the History of Women’s Movements in the US, feminism, human rights among others.
We also engaged in civic activities that included trips to local Non-profit organizations, and volunteering at local organizations. We also took part in the American Independence day Celebrations on the 4th of July.
We were able to visit many other states including Georgia, the big City of Atlanta, hometown to the legend Martin Luther King Jr., New York that is home to the United Nations and the Statue of Liberty, as well as Maryland, Pennsylvania.
My USA experience was undoubtedly life changing, mostly because of the people I met and the concepts I learnt and developed. We were urged to be change makers back home and I resolved to start up a project within my capacity from my university to my home district. I plan on teaching young girls from impoverished communities how to make reusable sanitary towels and teach them better menstrual and reproductive health habits.I hope I can also be able to inspire other young girls into leadership and community involvement.
All this would have been impossible without the help of my mentor, Mr Kiragga Tusuubira Sharif who has been a real source of inspiration and guidance. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to him. As well as the Dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Mr Okiria John for permission granted to me to attend this program, and Course Coordinator Mr Mwambi Bashir for his cooperation.
Nakawala Mirembe Flavia.