Opening of the American Corner/Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Innovation Space

On September 17, a hundred alumni from U.S. exchange programs joined U.S Ambassador Robert Yamate to celebrate the opening of the American Corner/Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Innovation Space located in the American Center building, Tanjombato.  The American Corner is open to all, but as a YALI Innovation Space, will be particularly important to our YALI fellows and alumni as a programming space for mentoring and community service, a place where they can spotlight the connection between democracy and economic development.  YALI Alumni Chapter president Andry Ravalomanda joined the Ambassador in cutting the ribbon to the American corner.

On the same occasion, Ambassador Yamate officially acknowledged the creation of the Madagascar U.S. Exchange Alumni (MUSEA). MUSEA will serve as a focal point between the U.S. Embassy and its alumni, who are those individuals who have participated in U.S. government sponsored exchange programs in the United States.

Ambassador Yamate said in his speech that “The United States is committed to supporting and growing our network of exchange participants… The information and opportunities provided here are truly limitless. The Corner provides to all visitors books, periodicals, Internet access, computer databases, activities, and events that inform participants about the United States and our ongoing partnership with Madagascar.  And access to this wealth of information is not limited to the wealthy.  All our American corner resources and programs are available to all the people of Madagascar and all are free.”

The American Corner/YALI Innovation Space is a place to learn, do research, to hold programming and engage with the local community through different activities. It occupies 95 square meters of the American Center.  Its layout and decor are examples of the most up to date standards for American spaces, developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. The American Corner features a small library, eight iMacs with Internet access, a TV alcove, children’s learning corner, a workspace for 20, and library seating for another 20. Kindles and iPads are available on loan from the front desk.  The American Corner/YALI Innovation Space represents the U.S. engagement to support the people of Madagascar.

Alumni from many different State Department supported programs attended the event.  Besides our YALI alumni, there were past participants in the Fulbright and Humphrey programs, International Visitors Leadership exchanges, the Study of the United States Institutes, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), and the TV Coop program.  Students who have benefited from access micro-scholarships here in Madagascar were also among the guests.