As the late former US Vice President and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey said, “Never give in and never give up,” I was challenged and at the same time motivated when I learned about this prestigious Fulbright fellowship program. Likewise, I can still recall how motivated I was then in 2016 when I first learned about the UNEP/UNESCO/BMU-sponsored professional development program at the Centre for International Postgraduate Studies in Environmental Management (CIPSEM) at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. My CIPSEM success story in 2016 including the unwavering support I received from Dr. Anna Görner, Dr. André Lindner and team was the stepping stone on which this Fulbright-Humphrey Fellowship success was built from.
The Fulbright-Humphrey exchange program was a great opportunity for me to develop my professional skills and experience in the USA. Following the fellowship application announcement by the Fulbright Commission in Harare, I immediately applied. I went through the competitive and rigorous in-country interviews, TOEFL exams and the candidate review process, and after waiting for close to a year I was selected. And the rest is history.
Like the CIPSEM Fellowship Program, the Humphrey Fellowship Program is well-planned and organized, and every effort is made to make each of the Fellows feel special from day one. The pre-departure orientation, welcome meeting at the airport, and on-campus orientation with the Humphrey Program staff and Friendship Partners helped us settle down and acclimate to our new “home” in Ithaca. The numerous field and recreational visits and dinner parties we attended are a true testimony of the hospitality extended to us by our US hosts. One of my goals prior to my departure was to learn about and experience American culture and I am happy to say that I am already immersed in it. I am amazed by how friendly the people are, with a rich cultural diversity, exemplified with some of the best business and cuisine cultures on the planet. I am much impressed with how such rich cultural diversity has given rise to the convergence of ideas and innovations that have continued to drive American society for many years.
Being a professional development program, the Humphrey Program gives Fellows the opportunity to build their program plans and hone their leadership skills through a series of seminars, academic courses, professional visits and volunteer activities. Like the CIPSEM experience, we have acquired practical skills that benefit us as professionals, helping us to engage with communities and people back home. A famous English proverb says, “make hay while the sun shines,” and as Humphrey Fellows we are privileged to have this great opportunity to develop our leadership and job skills for the benefit of our home governments and beneficiary communities. Such is an opportunity that every fellow should be proud of – for me, it is the true honor of being a Humphrey Fellow.