ASU hosts 25 professionals from sub-Saharan African countries for leadership training program

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Arizona State University’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions is hosting 25 professionals from 17 sub-Saharan African countries for a six-week leadership training program. The Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, program was created by former President Barack Obama to help educate future leaders in Africa, and ASU has hosted YALI fellows for several years.

Ted Simons: ASU IS HOSTING 25 PROFESSIONALS FROM 17 SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN COUNTRIES FOR A LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM, THE YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE WAS CREATED BY FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO HELP EDUCATE FUTURE LEADERS IN AFRICA. WE WELCOME UGOCHI OBIDIEGWU, WHO'S WORKED AS A SAFETY OFFICER IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS, AND FELICITY WALU, A COUNTER-TERRORISM OPERATIVE AND, LIKE OUR OTHER GUEST, A NATIVE OF NIGERIA. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE.

Felicity Walu: THANK YOU.

Ted Simons: DID I FRACTURE YOUR NAME TOO MUCH? OKAY. GOOD. ALL RIGHT. FELICITY WE'LL START WITH YOU. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS?

Felicity Walu: WELL, I ACTUALLY HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO HAVE MENTORED SOME FORMER FELLOWS, AND [ INAUDIBLE ] AND WHEN I GOT TO SEE WHAT THEY WERE DOING, I SAID, WOW, I WOULD LIKE TO BE A PART OF THIS, AND I WENT AHEAD TO APPLY.

Ted Simons: YES, AND YOU WERE ACCEPTED.

Felicity Walu: YES, I WAS ACCEPTED. IT WAS ACTUALLY 11,000 APPLIED IN NIGERIA, AND 60 WERE SELL ELECTED.

Ted Simons: WOW, CONGRATULATIONS.

Felicity Walu: THANK YOU.

Ted Simons: SAME WITH YOU. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS PROGRAM?

Ugochi Obidiegwu: I TOOK PART OF THE REGIONAL LEADERSHIP CENTER IN 2016, AND AT THE TRAINING WE WERE INFORMED [ INAUDIBLE ] WERE GOING TO TAKE PLACE. SO I APPLIED THE FIRST TIME, AND I DIDN'T MAKE IT. BUT THE SECOND TIME I MADE IT.

Ted Simons: AND YOU MADE IT AND NOW YOU ARE FOCUSING ON SAFETY TRAINING. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Ugochi Obidiegwu: YES. OKAY SO I WORKED AVIATION AND AS A SAFETY OFFICER FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS, AND WHEN I STEPPED OUT OF AVIATION INDUSTRIES, PEOPLE SAID THE STUDY WASN'T IMPORTANT. EVEN WHEN I STUDY BUSINESS AND EVEN IF I WANT TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS IN AFRICA PEOPLE WOULD JUST SAY GOD FORBID OR IT'S NOT MY PORTION. THEN BE PRACTICAL ABOUT SAFETY SYSTEMS SO IT WAS A DEEPER PROBLEM, AND I HAD TO START TRAINING CHILDREN. BECAUSE I FELT IF WE TRAINED THE CHILDREN, THEY GROW WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE, THEN IT HELPS THE WORKFORCE.

Ted Simons: SO SAFETY EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR KIDS, THESE SORTS OF THINGS?

Ugochi Obidiegwu: YES.

Ted Simons: AND YOU ARE KIND OF INTERESTED IN COUNTER TERRORISM. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.

Felicity Walu: OKAY. I'M A LAWYER, ACTUALLY.

TED:OH, OKAY.

Felicity Walu: I GRADUATED IN NIGERIA IN 2009. BUT SOME TIME IN 2012, MY MOTHER AND I WENT TO CHURCH AND TWO SUICIDE BOMBERS IN A CAR BOMB INTERCEPTED US AND THE EXPLOSION HAPPENED CLOSE, LUCKILY WE SURVIVED, THAT INSPIRED ME TO FOCUS ON TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE. BECAUSE MOST TIMES ATTACKS HAPPEN JUST LITTLE TECHNIQUES THAT YOU COULD USED TO SURVIVE, A LOT OF PEOPLE ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BLEED TO DEATH OR ALLOW THE ATTACKERS TO COME AND FINISH THE JOB. THERE WERE SAFETY MEASURES THAT WOMEN AND CHILDREN COULD TAKE WHO ARE USUALLY THE MOST VULNERABLE. AND USUALLY THEY WHEN THESE ATTACKS HAPPEN, THEY DIE MORE. SO I THOUGHT IT WAS TIME TO USE MY STORY TO INSPIRE PEOPLE, AND TEACH PEOPLE BASIC ESCAPING SKILLS.

Ted Simons: THROUGH THIS PROGRAM HERE, THE YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE, WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO TAKE BACK TO NIGERIA?

Felicity Walu: OKAY, I PLAN TO TAKE BACK -- WE DON'T HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY THAT AMERICA HAS. BUT I HAVE LEARNED THAT WE CAN IMPROVISE. WE HAVE LITTLE THINGS WE COULD USED TO IMPROVISE. WE CAN DOMESTICATE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED HERE. BECAUSE I HAVE LEARNED A LOT. WE HAVE SYSTEMS ARE WORKING BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE COMMITTED TO IT WORKING, AND FOR ME THAT IS SOMETHING I WANT TO GO AND YOU KNOW, SELL TO THE PEOPLE IN MY COMMUNITY.

Ted Simons: I WAS GOING TO SAY IN NIGERIA, SAFETY EDUCATION CLASSES AND SUCH, GETTING PEOPLE TO BUY IN, TO AGREE THAT IT IS A PROBLEM, AND AGREE TO PAY ATTENTION, THAT HAS TO BE A BIG FACTOR, HUH?

Ugochi Obidiegwu: YEAH, I HAD TO STUDY A LOT OF SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLE IS THE SAFETY CHICK, I SAID A LOT OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN 2016 WRITING ARTICLES IN A CATCHY WAY, DOING VIDEOS IN 60 SECOND VIDEOS, ATTENTION SPAN IS REALLY SHORT NOW. USING ALL THOSE CATCHY MESSAGE, VIDEOS CATCHY PICTURES, AND ALL OF THAT, PEOPLE BEGAN TO SEE THE IMPORTANCE. I ALSO STARTED VISITING SCHOOLS AND WHEN I VISIT SCHOOLS, I MAKES SURE I TAKE PICTURES, TAKE VIDEOS OF WHAT CHILDREN ARE SAYING AND SHARE. SO OVER TIME PEOPLE SAW THE REASON TO BUY IN. AND THEN I WROTE A CHILD SAFETY STORY BOOK ALSO.

Ted Simons: OH, VERY GOOD.

Ugochi Obidiegwu: AND THAT HAS HELPED BECAUSE I PUT THOSE INFORMATION IN A STORY FORMAT SO THAT IT HELPS PARENTS CONNECT WITH THEM.

Ted Simons: YEAH, AGAIN, THE SHORT ATTENTION SPAN, IF YOU CAN GET A BOOK OUT OF IT WITH PICTURES, THAT ALWAYS HELPS.

Ugochi Obidiegwu: ABSOLUTELY.

Ted Simons: WHEN YOU GO BACK TO NIGERIA, WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING? ARE THEY GOING TO SAY YOU ARE EVEN MORE OF A LEADER WHEN YOU LEFT? OR WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?

Ugochi Obidiegwu: WELL, I THINK THEY ARE BEGINNING TO TAKE ME MORE SERIOUSLY. I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET RECOGNITION ON A MORE -- ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL. THEY WILL PROBABLY THINK, OKAY. WE CAN WORK WITH HER. SHE HAS A LOT TO GIVE TO US.

Ted Simons: YEAH THE IDEA THAT WE CAN WORK WITH YOU IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE A BIG FACTOR BACK THERE. WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING? WHAT KIND OF REACTION ARE YOU EXPECTING?

Felicity Walu: WELL. [ LAUGHTER ] I DON'T EXPECT THEM TO JUST KEY IN IMMEDIATELY, BUT CONSTANT ADVOCACY AND I PLAN TO CHANGE MY STRATEGY. OBVIOUSLY I HAVE LEARNED THAT THERE ARE BETTER WAYS THAT I CAN GIVE OUT THE MESSAGE.

Ted Simons: SO THE COMMUNICATION ASPECT IS --

Felicity Walu: YES, YES. IT HAS HELPED ME TO UNDERSTAND THAT COMMUNICATION ACTUALLY MATTERS, AND IF YOU ARE CALLED -- WE CAN GET RESULTS, BUT THE MANNER IN WHICH WE DO IT. SO I HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING NEW HERE.

Ted Simons: WELL, THAT'S GOOD. THAT'S WHY YOU ARE HERE. CONGRATULATIONS.

Felicity Walu: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Ted Simons: CONGRATULATIONS ON GOING THROUGH THE PROGRAM, AND GOOD LUCK BACK IN NIGERIA.

Ugochi Obidiegwu: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Felicity Walu: THANK YOU. ♪

Felicity Walu: Participant, Young African Leaders Initiative
Ugochi Obidiegwu: Participant, Young African Leaders Initiative

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