Princeton in Africa 2022-23 Fellows’ Retreat

During our 2022-23 Princeton in Africa mid-year Fellows’ retreat in Stone Town, Zanzibar, PiAf staff and alumni coordinators facilitated sessions focused on our Fellow’s personal and professional growth, the next steps in the remaining 6 months of their fellowships, and growing a strong community among their cohort. Read on to learn more about the sessions we held this year.

Challenges & Opportunities

On March 9th, 2023, Princeton in Africa gathered our Fellows at the East African Kiswahili Commission for our session called Challenges & Opportunities. This is a session we have conducted during the last 10 years of on-site retreats. It is fundamental for our Fellows to form small groups and share their experiences in their workplaces, host countries, and daily lives. This was an open space where Fellows were able to express their frustrations, achievements, moments of gratitude, and ways to move forward with challenges.

The session began with staff explaining The Way of Council, which seeks to engender truth and transparency by addressing our views and fears as they arise and opening a space to communicate from a position of equality and cooperation. The intention of the Council is to serve the whole, be it a group, team, family, relationship, or partnership. It elicits transparency and personal experience through simple and present non-directive communication.

Fellows were prompted to reflect on their challenges during the first 6 months of their fellowships. These could be personal or professional challenges. After each person in the small groups shared, Fellows were invited to respond to anything that was said, ask questions or express an understanding of someone’s challenge. The session continued afterward in the same structure, but then Fellows shared opportunities for personal and professional growth that they have experienced while conducting their fellowships. Often, Fellows find that their expressed challenges and opportunities align in interesting ways; they may see how some challenges also come with exciting or important opportunities for growth. We encourage our Fellows to come away from this activity refreshed and with a deeper understanding of their struggles and achievements.

(From Left to Right) Aishwarya Rai (IRC, Kenya), Kamila Radjabova (Former Fellow and PiAf Program Coordinator), Michael Rivera (ASE, Benin), Madeline Wong (ILRI, Kenya), Neil Wary (USAP Community School, Zimbabwe)

“PiAf has not only taught me the challenges and opportunities of working on the African continent, but the unique nuances of each experience. You are able to assist in engaging organizations which are deeply involved in social missions. Through PiAf, you find a new voice on how to speak on, interact with, and envision the future of the African continent.”

Dylan McAndrew, 2022-23 Fellow with African School of Economics, Benin

Our History

In 1999, a group of Princeton alumni, faculty, and staff launched Princeton in Africa as an independent affiliate of Princeton University inspired by the University’s informal motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” In 2010, the program opened up to include graduates of any US accredited university in order to meet the growing demand from host organizations and allow more young professionals access to the unique opportunities afforded by PiAf. During the past 20 years, we have placed over 600 Fellows with more than 100 organizations in 36 countries, while developing more strategic partnerships across Africa and creating more opportunities for our alumni community to engage with the continent and with one another.


The International Rescue Committee has been so fortunate to have had a longstanding relationship with Princeton in Africa since our very first Fellows landed in Rwanda in 1999.  Whether it was Emily or Renee in 1999 or the 110 Fellows across 14 IRC countries over the years, we have been blessed by the relationship, the quality of the Fellows and the impact on what IRC does on the ground every single day.

Brian Johnson
Chief Human Resources Officer
International Rescue Committee

My fellowship has been the most impactful personal and professional development opportunity of my life. I wanted a post-college experience that would push my limits, expand my comfort zone, and help me discern the next steps in my career journey. And this has been the case.

Ryan Elliott
2014-15 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Lesotho

I can honestly say that this year has changed my life and my view of what’s possible for the future. Princeton in Africa isn’t just a one-year fellowship, it’s an introduction to a particular way of life and a new way of thinking about the world. I feel like so many doors are open now that I never would have considered before.

Katie Fackler
2010-11 Fellow
UN World Food Programme

My Princeton in Africa fellowship was everything I could have hoped for and much more. The myriad of experiences makes my head swim, and it has strengthened my desire to help underserved populations worldwide.

David Bartels
2006-2007 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative

Princeton in Africa was an invaluable experience for me. I learned an infinite amount through my work and through living in Uganda. I also realized that I want to continue working on African issues as long as I can.

Alexis Okeowo
2006-2007 Fellow
The New Vision

The International Rescue Committee’s experience with Princeton in Africa has been exceptional. Each Fellow brings excellent writing and analytical skills as well as unique interests and passions that enrich the program and the field office environment. We were so pleased we expanded the program to more field offices.

Susan Riehl
Human Resources, IRC

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has been working in Africa for over 11 years through its Secure the Future program.  One common theme in all aspects of program implementation is having passionate, energetic individuals on the ground who can think outside the box and then transfer the skills for sustainability.  The Princeton In Africa Fellows have been a huge asset in this regard and our programs and patients have been better for it.

John Damonti
President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation