Off to the Wild Wild West … :)

Cindy-Lee Cloete
4 June 2014

Right, so it’s the 04th of June and my last day in the office is coming up rather swiftly!!! I’ve got my tickets, I’ve got my Visa and no, all my bags are not packed yet, but with each day drawing closer to the 13th I’m filled with more and more excitement!!!

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Can you believe it, not only was I selected for the amazing Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative program but before I left for Kenya in January this year (yes, these days I’m a bit of a jetsetter) I told my mother; “Mom, this year I’m going to America, I’m going!!” Her response to that of course wasn’t one of the happiest for various reasons but my favourite one was; “well what if something happens, you won’t be able to just drive to us” …. Haha SWEET!!!!

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We had the South African Pre-Departure Orientation in Johannesburg during the weekend of the 17th of May where I met the other South African Fellows, that’s what we call ourselves, posh hey :) I also had the opportunity to meet the US Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, as he hosted a cocktail evening at his house to bid us all farewell. He is truly such an inspiring man and I felt that if half of the people I will be working and studying with during my experience in the States are like him, this will definitely be one of the richest and most developing endeavours of my life.

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Cindy with all the other South African Fellows an US Ambassador Gaspard

So many people have given me ideas about the best sight-seeing places, and as wonderful as all that sounds I am most excited about meeting the other 499 young African Leaders selected for the program and engaging with all of them. Learning from them, sharing my experience and expertise and participating in joint ventures to create an African continent that we can all proudly call home is an exciting prospect for my new adventure. I hope to gain the skills and knowledge to not only plough back into NVT and the surrounding areas but also to the larger South African community and open this opportunity to more young aspiring leaders.

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I kick off with a 6 weeks academic training program at the Arizona State University in Phoenix which is structured to provide me with civic engagement, community activism, volunteer activities, leadership trainings and cultural excursions. One of our cultural excursions will be a trip to the Grand Canyon, yes, THE GRAND CANYON :) After this I will travel to Washington DC for a 3 day Summit with President Obama and I will then remain in Washington DC for my 2 month internship with the North American Association for Environmental Education!!!! Aahh, I can’t wait to start working with this amazing organisation!

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Ok, time to say goodbye but before I do, I would like to especially thank Mark and the NVT Trustees for their support and constant encouragement for my continuous professional development. The person I am today is so vastly different from the person the NVT team met in 2009 and all my growth was directly guided and shaped by this wonderful team. I will forever be thankful to them.

Lastly, I recently started a blog, “Ubuntu Spirit of Adventurous Cindy” (USACindy), to keep you all updated on all the wonderful things I will be doing and be a part of. Now wish me luck and I’ll see you all again soon …Goodbye!!!

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