Around the Institute

New Voices in Johannesburg

June 24, 2013  • Rachael Strecher

As we wrapped up the inaugural New Voices Fellowship workshop, our team was gratified, and perhaps a little surprised that it went so well. In truth, I suspect that little of this success was a result of our own planning—rather, it stemmed from the energy and passion of the people in attendance. Read on to find out more about how the week went.

We started the workshop with a full day session lead by CEO of the Op-Ed project, Katie Orenstein and New Voices board member Courtney Martin. Through this interactive training, the fellows learned to quickly establish their expertise, as well as write and pitch opinion editorials to major media outlets.

Our second day focused on practical skills around working with the media, and was lead by veteran South African editor and journalist, Paula Fray.

We wrapped up the workshop with on-camera training at ABN 360, an affiliate of CNBC Africa, and a session of individual coaching from our trainers in conjunction with public speaking training.

One of the most exciting parts of the week was learning more about the Fellows. Jacques Sebisaho, who not only is bringing new levels of healthcare to his remote home on Idjwi island in the DRC but also (surprise!) is a choral director in New York City. Kas Desalegn, whose experience treating new medical conditions as a front line doctor in northern Ethiopia has transformed him into an activist on the effects of global climate change. Kennedy Odede, who is known as “the Mayor” in Nairobi’s Kibera slum and who is determined to give voice to the millions who pack the shantytowns and “informal settlements” burgeoning across the developing world.  Mary Mwanyika-Sando, who is working to ensure that women in Tanzania get access to quality care at all stages of pregnancy and delivery.

 They’ve all got amazing stories to tell, both personal and professional, and you’ll be hearing from them in coming months as we move ahead with the program.

While the Johannesburg meeting featured an intense sequence of media training workshops, we did find time to play. And when we showed up at a Johannesburg restaurant for our final dinner to find the heaters all broken on a chilly winter night, the group gamely wrapped themselves in blankets and carried on – before capping the evening (and raising the temperature) with an impromptu Africa-wide dance party that had the whole group on its feet.

  You can follow our continuing adventures @aspennewvoices