On Thursday night, 16 Yale World Fellows gathered with members of the Yale community for an evening of food and conversation at the African American House.
The World Fellows program brings a diverse group of professionals from around the globe to the University each year to participate in a global affairs seminar and interact with the Yale community. At this week’s event, guests enjoyed upbeat music and delicious food while they mingled with the fellows and learned about their experiences.
The World Fellows each had their own table with a presentation board about their professional background. As guests walked around between the tables, the World Fellows gave brief presentations to small groups and conversed one-on-one with many students.
The fellows, who are living on campus from now until December, all brought their own expertise and ideas to the event.
Christopher Lockyear — a World Fellow from the United Kingdom who works for Médecins Sans Frontières as Operations Manager for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Sudan — said he has enjoyed being at Yale and having the time to do more writing and research.
“I am very pleased to not be doing crisis management, which is what I do on a daily basis at home,” he said. “Being here really gives me a chance to think out of the box and to understand how what I do works with the world at large.”
Thora Arnorsdottir, who is Iceland’s leading journalist and ran for president while she was still pregnant, said she is at Yale on her own while her husband is at home working and taking care of the children.
When asked whether she believes that she “has it all” as a journalist and a mom, she said that she believes she does, adding that she has been able to take advantage of her education and specialized skills.
“I believe that it is important for women to have a choice in what they want to do,” she said.
Many students from Yale and surrounding high schools attended the event, as well as members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy from New London.
Guests interviewed said they were impressed by their interactions with the fellows.
Lisa Achoki ’18 said she found Biola Alabi — an African media expert — very inspiring.
“Being from Kenya, I know that there wasn’t much African entertainment available [until recent years],” Achoki said. “Now, there is a lot more African television that is relatable.”
Another guest, Leslie Blatteau — a teacher at the Metropolitan Business Academy (MBA), a high school in New Haven — said she has assigned her students a project on the World Fellows and human rights for a class called “International Issues.”
Pedro Martinez, a student from Puerto Rico who attends MBA, picked World Fellow Alejandro Pacheco of Spain for his important work on poverty reduction.
Martinez’ classmate, Grace Sawyer, is focusing on World Fellow Nandita Das, an Indian film actor and director.
“Das and her mission really resonate with me and my fellow classmates,” Sawyer said. “Her ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign inspires me, as I am also interested in the arts.”
Alethia Moore, another student at MBA, said researching the World Fellows showed her that they “have so much courage in what they do.”
Yale students who serve as World Fellow liaisons were also in attendance last night. Liaisons help connect the fellows to Yale’s undergraduate student body, while also forming a strong relationship with their individual fellow.
“Thora has encouraged me to be a female leader,” said Helen Ren ’17, who is Anrnorsdottir’s World Fellow liaison. “I love her passion for what she does.”
The World Fellows Program chose to hold the event at the African American House in part because of its central location, said Communications Director Uma Ramiah.
Michael Cappello, Executive Director of the World Fellows Program said a primary goal of the program is to expose undergraduate students to the World Fellows.
“The program has been going on for thirteen years, and this year, I believe, we’ve reached a pinnacle,” he said.
The World Fellows program will hold “Inspired” — a series of small discussion sessions with the fellows — at the New Haven Free Public Library beginning Sept. 25.