Earlier this year we posted an opportunity on the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship sponsored by the United States Department of State for mid-career professionals around the world. Below is an interview with Madume Kgosietsile from Botswana, one of the HHF 2016-17 recipients. We hope you will learn from her experience and apply for this professional development program.
Tell us about yourself and what you currently do?
I am Madume Kgosietsile, from Botswana. I am a criminal lawyer working for the Botswana government as a Senior Prosecutions Counsel. I am currently a Humphrey fellow at American University, Washington College of law specializing in Law and Human Rights. For my professional affiliation, I am hosted by the International Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA; we work on human rights in Europe, Asia and the United Nations with special focus on US foreign policy.
What did the application process into Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, Fulbright mid-career professional development program entail?
It was a long application process. The American Embassy in Botswana through their public affairs office advertised the fellowship in March- April 2015 for the academic year 2016/2017. Law and human rights was one of the areas advertised and they were looking for professionals with a minimum of five years experience in the selected fields. I completed the online application form. My area of focus was on children’s rights in the Botswana criminal justice system. I then submitted all other supporting documents by post as was required. In November 2015, I found out that my application had passed the national (Botswana) selection process stage and it had been forwarded to the US Fulbright commission for final section. Finally, in March 2016 (almost a year later) I learned that I had been selected.
What was your profession before you applied for the program?
I am an admitted attorney. I work for the Attorney General’s Chambers in Botswana as a Senior Prosecutions Counsel (Prosecutions Attorney). I am stationed in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) headquarters in Gaborone. I am currently on leave and will be going back to my job at the end of the fellowship.
What aspects were you weighing to make the decision to take leave from your job at the Attorney General’s office?
I had to consider whether it was worth it to forfeit a year’s salary because going on unpaid leave was my only option. I also had to reconcile myself with the fact that my colleagues are going to be a year ahead of me when I get back to work post the fellowship. Indeed, the ultimate sacrifice was being away from family and friends.
What advice would to give to young Batswana, African women looking to further their professional development at a mid-career stage? What advice would you give to young people who’re looking to follow similar paths?
Taking part in the Humphrey Fellowship has been an exciting once in a lifetime opportunity, I will forever be grateful to the Fulbright commission for allowing the opportunity to participate in the program. During the fellowship, I have grown not only as a professional but personal growth is inevitable when you embark on a journey like the Humphrey fellowship.
I would encourage young women in Africa to look for opportunities like the Humphrey fellowship .The fellowship gives you the opportunity to network with professionals, in your field, from all over the world. Fellows are also challenged to learn new skills. The best part of the fellowship is that, we get to meet other mid-career African fellows from different professions and we learn so much from one another about the problems in our continent. The fellowship also allows you time to work on your project (proposal) and talk to people (from various parts of the world, not just Americans) about your ideas, they help you out and challenge you with questions and share best practices from their countries
More than anything the Humphrey fellowship allows you time to reflect on different things; what you want to do next in your career, who inspires you, and who you can collaborate with in your country and region.
What is next for you?
I am going back home in June and reporting back for duty at the DPP in July. My plan is to move into the international criminal law practice or international law; I am looking for opportunities in these areas in both regional and international organizations. I also wouldn’t mind branching into human rights work in one of our local civil society groups, should an opportunity arise.