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Austin Opens Doors of Economic Opportunity with a Key to the City

Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 7:58 pm.

Jody Mayo, Communications Manager, Alliance Abroad Group
A version of this story was originally published on Alliance Abroad

Princess Cee and James Bell, President of Alliance Abroad, proudly display key to the city of Austin

Like her grandfather, Nelson Mandela, Princess Celenhle “Cee” Dlamini is passionate about providing disadvantaged youth with economic opportunities through programs that provide skills training, education and employment. That includes cultural and educational exchange programs.

A few weeks ago, Princess Cee was visiting Austin as part of her official role as Chief Operating Officer of the Ubuntu Institute’s international exchange program, an initiative aimed at skilling South African youth so that they are employable in South Africa.

“Many young people state that they cannot get jobs because employers tell them they do not have enough work experience to qualify for positions,” Princess Cee explained. “This applies even to young graduates of both undergraduate levels and post-graduate levels.” The innovative approach of the Ubuntu Institute identifies international internships to deal with the issues of ‘un-employability.’ The program was created to address this gap and challenge in order to combat the increasing rates of youth unemployment in South Africa. The international exchange program empowers graduates with skills and training opportunities to prepare them for a future career in the hospitality industry.

From left to right: HP (Ubuntu Institute), Victoria Lynden (Alliance Abroad), Mayor Steve Adler, Princess Cee and James Bell (Alliance Abroad)

Alliance Abroad Group, a U.S.-designated sponsor for the J-Visa Exchange Visitor Program, forged a partnership with the Ubuntu Institute because it supports opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth with a focus on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial skills, and brings a diversity of perspective and a wealth of talent to help U.S. businesses thrive in an increasingly global economy.

Our collaboration with Ubuntu and hospitality businesses in Austin and other Texas cities has created tremendous opportunities for both local businesses and program interns.”It’s remarkable how supportive Austin businesses have been to exchange programs,” said Victoria Lynden, CEO of Alliance Abroad Group. Local businesses see the value of having diversity infused in their businesses. They report that the diversity of talent, perspective and backgrounds are key business enablers and enhance employee and customer experience. “We believe that these programs accomplish so much more than work and training opportunities – they actually changes lives in a very positive way” she added.

Princess Cee Proudly Accepts Key to City of Austin

While in Austin, Mayor Steve Adler surprised Princess Cee by presenting her with a key to the city in a welcome ceremony hosted at Austin City Hall. Mayor Adler shared with the Princess and the small group attending the presentation that he supports the Ubuntu initiative and was honored to welcome Princess Cee to Austin.  “One of the goals of our city is to expand our international reach and recognition by promoting economic opportunities and reciprocal programs such as these.”

“Interns in the Ubuntu program return to South Africa and have contributed immensely to the skills gap and economic activity of our country,” Princess Cee explains. “This would not be possible without the hard work of our local implementation partners, the support of local communities and most importantly international employers who value and support Ubuntu, diversity and other cultural exchanges.”

The Princess will return to Austin sometime in May accompanied by family members and program interns to officially kick off the program.

Categories: Program Spotlight

About Karen Ward

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Karen Ward

Karen Ward has been with the Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program for over thirty years. Karen joined Private Sector Exchange as the Director of the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation in December 2014. She previously had worked on all aspects of the Exchange Visitor Program, including program analyst for the secondary school student, teacher, post-secondary student, research scholar, trainee and intern categories and served as the Division Chief of the Private Sector Programs Division for three years. She spent three years as a Policy Analyst and a Senior Compliance Office within the Office of Exchange Coordination and Compliance. She has extensive knowledge on program management, the regulatory process, form development, and SEVIS administration.

Karen, a native of Maryland, is a career federal civil servant with more than 30 years of service, working mostly in the areas of international exchanges and operation management. She enjoys mentoring and volunteering in her community.