(Washington, DC) On Friday, January 20th, the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs hosted its “African Youth Leadership Roundtable.” This 2-hour event was a huge success as it was attended by 18 dynamic young African leaders, representing student-led African youth organizations from a number of DC high schools and universities such as School Without Walls, American University, Georgetown University, Howard University, and cultural youth organizations.
At the roundtable, students engaged in an interactive dialogue with the OAA staff and Director, Ngozi Nmezi. Each student was given the opportunity to recount a story significant to his or her unique experience as a young African growing up in DC. Although the students hailed from various African countries, including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo, it is notable that passionate stories that emphasized very fundamental and consistent themes were shared among all students. According to Nana Boateng, participant at the event, , “there is a need for a stronger sense of unity among Africans, and this invaluable roundtable event hosted by the Office on African Affairs is very beneficial for us in order to better prepare us to meet the challenges we face daily.” Additional themes discussed included:
- A strong sense of cultural pride
- Concerns over balancing of ethnic culture with an American culture, especially when it comes to dealing with the expectations of parents and/or peers
- Issues of personal identity and understanding one’s own culture
- The importance of expelling stereotypes and promoting awareness
- Employment barriers
- Overcoming language barriers
As a final note, OAA is planning an upcoming African Youth Town Hall with Mayor Vincent C. Gray in April, as a follow-up event to the roundtable and to our youth engagement series. Participants from the roundtable, as well as other interested youth, will be invited back for further dialogue. Both events are aimed at encouraging greater civic engagement among African youth, and at facilitating communication between young Africans in the District and DC government officials and organizations.
Follow OAA on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow OAA on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/DCMayorOAA and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/DC-Mayors-Office-on-African-Affairs/176332395753662