Joannie Bewa speaking at podium.

IVLP Young African Leaders (YAL)

Joannie Bewa: Taking Leadership Home

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Ms. Bewa is a medical doctor from Benin. Her IVLP project included visits to Washington, DC, North Carolina, New Mexico and Louisiana.

"My name is Joannie Bewa. I am 23 years old and I am from Benin in West Africa. I'm a medical doctor and I also coordinate the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA). I attended an International Visitor leadership Program ( IVLP) in April 2012 under the focus of the Young African Leaders Program (YAL), which emphasized youth leadership and civic engagement.

This program really impacted my personal and professional life and positively changed my mind. I discovered new ways of solving social issues, new strategies of engaging youth and new community management systems. I was personally impressed by the way youths are engaged in every process in the U.S.

I witnessed elections in North Carolina, discovered the U.S diversity when i visited New Mexico and recognized the courage and determination of New Orleans families who rebuilt their homes and lives after Hurricane Katrina, even when the future was not certain.

Overall I was impressed by Washington's political institutions and policymakers. I learned new things about the U.S. democratic system and I noticed  that there are some strong points that can be adapted to our continent, Africa, based on our social, cultural and political contexts.

The IVLP program shaped my skills and opened my mind as a global leader. When I came back to my country, I joined the Ambassador Youth Council at the U.S. Embassy Cotonou and I am networking with my colleagues in the Council to develop ideas that create a bigger impact in our communities. I have also organized and supported many capacity building sessions on leadership and civic engagement at various public and private campuses.

I recently attended the Public Service and Global Health workshop under U.S. Secretary Clinton's Women in Public Service Project in October 2012. I also collaborated with the African Union Commission as a youth participant at the 7th Gender Pre-Summit organized in preparation of the 20th Assembly of Heads of State and Government in January 2013. I am active in the Beninese State Alumni community and have contributed to the EBUSS Project (Empowering  and Bringing women at pre University levels to choosing Scientific Study subjects in the field of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology), which won the 2012 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF).

The IVLP/YAL exchange program totally transformed me and increased my capacities by enriching me with innovative ideas. I hope that all IVLP delegates will develop a stronger network to learn from each other's best practices and build together on the successes already achieved." —Joannie Bewa, February 2013

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