In the past decade, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has committed to establishing and expanding strategic, long-term relationships with Rwandan institutions of higher education and the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda. The Nebraska UPEX-Rwanda Program, funded through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of African Affairs’ University Partnerships Initiative, is a fellowship that aims to create long-lasting, impactful relationships between U.S. and Rwandan universities through virtual exchange, professional development for Rwandan mid-career professionals (the Cohort), and U.S. mentorship in international partnership management. It will also build Rwandan administrator capacity and reciprocal engagement with the U.S. to enhance regional prosperity, security and sustainability.
Over the course of one year (2021), fellows in the Cohort will participate in a hands-on virtual training program on international partnership development; learn best practices through case studies and site visits in Rwanda and the United States (travel conditions permitting); and be matched with dynamic U.S. mentors to further understand and develop program skills. Nebraska will also leverage expertise within its network of peer institutes across the United States and university partners in Rwanda to deliver program content virtually and on-ground.
Key concepts that will be covered in the UPEX-Rwanda Program, include but are not excluded to:
- Internationalization of higher education
- Strategic planning and functions of university international partnerships
- Stakeholder identification and engagement
- Fundraising and grant-writing
- Project implementation and management
- Designing and maintaining sustainable programs and relationships
- Special topics tailored to unique fellow needs and interests
At the conclusion of the program, each Cohort fellow will be expected to present an international partnership proposal for their institution; write a collaborative group white paper on applications for Rwandan higher education; and jointly organize a final symposium with the goal to establish a network of higher education professionals across Rwanda interested in developing international partnerships.
The UPEX-Rwanda Program will be broken into six (6) modules that all Cohort fellows will participate in. Each module will combine a series of virtual workshops led by U.S. content experts and strategic partners, applied training sessions focused on a theme related to international partnership management and case studies of successful U.S.-Rwanda partnerships.
Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a non-profit with extensive experience in facilitating higher education engagements between the United States and Rwanda, will support UPEX in developing and delivering content in Rwanda. As a strategic partner, UPEX will leverage B2R’s extensive network in Rwanda to highlight case studies and organizations as successful examples of international engagement. These case studies will inform practical applications that fellows can use to create a partnership(s) with other institutions in the United States and around the world.
Throughout the modules, Cohort fellows will also work on their final program deliverables to write an international partnership proposal between their institution and a peer institution in the United States. U.S. mentors will provide real-life feedback on module assignments and proposal development. Finally, the Cohort will also participate in various site visits and networking sessions in Rwanda and the United States (travel conditions permitting).
From February to July 2021, fellows should be prepared to spend 4-6 hours of preparation work each month for module reading assignment and guided questions. Each week, the Cohort will have up to 3 hours of virtual or in-person sessions with program coordinators, content experts and mentors according to the following schedule:
- Week 1 | Prepare & Introduce Concepts: Nebraska coordinators will lead an introductory session to build context for the module’s learning outcomes and share reading materials before the Week 2 workshop with the content expert.
- Week 2 | Virtual Training Workshop: A U.S. content expert will lead the Cohort in a virtual training workshop that includes roundtable discussions and activities related to the module’s theme. Fellows will be expected to review course content (e.g. case studies, presentations and videos) in advance, and complete a practical assignment related to the final deliverables.
- Week 3 | Pratical Application: Cohort fellows will work independently or in small groups to complete module assignments and advance their final projects.
- Week 4 | Cohort Mentorship & Review: Mentors will check in with their fellow mentee(s) to provide practical examples reinforcing module learning objectives and provide feedback on their final project proposal. Program coordinators will also lead a brief group review session of key concepts and a self-analysis of progress made towards learning outcomes.
The final module in August and September 2021 will include a final series of site visits and preparation sessions as the fellows finish their project proposals, the Cohort white paper and organize the final symposium in Rwanda. Final proposals must address all elements covered in the program modules and will be presented for review to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali for funding up to $10,000 of a new U.S.-Rwanda higher education partnership.
The UPEX-Rwanda Program is a fellowship program designed for mid-career professionals who work at Rwandan institutions of higher education. Applicants not meeting the below technical eligibility requirements will not be forwarded to the selection committee.
- Are a citizen or permanent resident in Rwanda
- Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English
- Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.
- Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa
- Are not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy or consulate, USAID, and other U.S. Government entities)
The U.S. Department of State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reserve the right to verify all information included in the application. In the event of a discrepancy, or if information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.
The Nebraska University Partnerships & Exchange (UPEX) Rwanda Program is a merit-based, open competition. After the December 11 deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda. Following this review, chosen semi-finalists will be interviewed by the university and/or the U.S. embassy.
The selection committee will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):
- A demonstrated knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in higher education administration in Rwanda and international partnership development
- A commitment to applying development skills and training to benefit the applicant’s institution after the conclusion of the program
- The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and to respect the opinions of others;
- Strong social and communication skills; and
- An energetic, positive attitude.
Following is the timeline for the 2021 UPEX-Rwanda Program. Dates are subject to change.
|November 16, 2020||Applications open|
|December 11, 2020||Applications close at 11:59 PM CAT|
|Mid-December 2020||Semi-finalists notified and interviews conducted|
|Late December 2020||Finalists notified|
|January 2021||Program Orientation|
|February – July 2021||Program Training|
|August — September 2021||Final Presentation & Symposium|
|October — December 2021||Program Wrap-up & Evaluation|
For more details,please visit https://globalnebraska.unl.edu/university-partnerships-initiative/rwanda