Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does Banaa find qualified students?

Banaa distributes application materials to officials with international aid agencies operating in Sudan as well as members of the Sudanese-American Diaspora.  These partners share materials with promising Sudanese young people who have completed secondary schooling and worked as local employees with development and relief organizations.  The application itself is based on the Common Application used by over 400 colleges and universities but specifically probes candidates on their commitment to return home to work in conflict-resolution and sustainable development.

Who is eligible to be a Banaa Scholar?

Any North or South Sudanese national under the age of 30, who (1) has been personally affected by conflict, (2) has completed secondary education, (3) has a demonstrated track record working toward peace and development, and (4) is willing to commit to return home to work in public service, is eligible to apply become a Banaa Scholar.

Why is Banaa just for Sudan? Can non-Sudanese apply?

Banaa aims to serve aspiring leaders from conflict zones around the world.  But—given the program’s limited resources and Sudan’s urgent need for both technical experts and visionary leaders—Sudan and South Sudan remain the focal point for the foreseeable future.

How can young Banaa graduates be effective in promoting peace?

Banaa Scholars work closely with academic and professional mentors to tailor their experience toward acquiring vital skills for promoting institutional and economic development in Sudan.  A returning scholar may, for example, work as an advisor in South Sudan’s recently-created Justice Ministry or a civil engineer for an infrastructure-development nonprofit in a remote region with few paved roads. 

Why not invest in more immediate forms of relief for the people of Sudan?

Banaa is designed as a vital complement rather than a substitute for emergency relief and short-term development assistance.  By bolstering Sudan’s most vital resource—its human capital—the program works to eliminate the persistent need for development assistance.  Banaa Scholarships are a strategic investment for peace and prosperity.

Does Banaa have any political agendas or affiliations?

No.  Banaa is an independent initiative launched and managed by student volunteers based at the George Washington University.  Banaa scholars receive practical training and liberal arts education but are expected to form their own perspectives on Sudanese and international politics.

Are there restrictions on the curricula of the students?

Scholars are encouraged to pursue majors that serve, in some capacity, conflict resolution or institutional and economic development.  Our first priority is that Scholars leave Banaa with skills that will enable them to effect change within Sudan. Specific areas of study could include (but are not limited to): International Affairs, Engineering, Education, Public Health, Political Science, etc.

Does Banaa support scholarship for post-graduate work? (Masters, Law, Medicine, etc.)

Not yet. Currently, Banaa is focusing its efforts on undergraduate programming. The goal is to provide scholars with the “college experience” as an essential component of their growth.

What if more than one college wants to select the same scholar, how is that decided?

Banaa asks each college to tell Banaa which candidates they would be willing to accept, and to rank them in choice order. Banaa then works with all of the admissions offices that are willing to accept scholars to identify where each would be best placed, before acceptance notices are sent.

How has the separation of Sudan into two states, Sudan and South Sudan, affected your program?

We remain committed to empowering young leaders from throughout Sudan and South Sudan to promote peace and sustainable development.


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