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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 Rebecca Pasini

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Rebecca Pasini

Rebecca A. Pasini joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchanges in July 2023. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister - Counselor, Ms. Pasini has been an American diplomat since 1997.

Ms. Pasini previously served as the Director of Public and Congressional Affairs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs from 2021-2023. Other Washington assignments have included positions in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Office of Foreign Missions, and as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. She has also completed multiple overseas tours, including as Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Consular Chief in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Other tours included Mexico City and Kuwait.

A Maryland native, Ms. Pasini has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University, a master’s degree in National Security and Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School, National Defense University, and an undergraduate degree from Mary Washington College.