Cultural Voice eZine

Monday, 2 April 2012

UN Alliance of Civilizations Fellows back in the Middle East to improve trust and cooperation between the West and the Muslim world


Twelve young leaders from North America and Europe are arriving in Rabat this Monday with the aim to create new alliances, gain knowledge, and understanding of North Africa and the Middle East.
From the Maghreb to the Gulf peninsula, twelve young leaders are now embarking on a journey across the MENA region. Every single day of the program is going to be rich in learning and in exchanges.  The UNAOC’s Fellowship Program focuses on creating opportunities for young leaders, across the Arab world and the West, to increase mutual understanding through experiential learning and direct interaction with civil society.

The fellows will be part of a two-week program organized under the auspices of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). The program is  funded by the German Foreign Office with the  support of the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace and developed in partnership with the League of Arab States, ISESCO, the Institute of International Education, the Government of Jordan, OIC and the Qatar Committee for the Alliance of Civilizations.

The Fellowship Programme is the first and only young leader’s exchange program developed jointly by partners and resources from Arab, Muslim, European and American partners.

During its first stop in Rabat, Morocco, hosted by ISESCO , the group will meet with UNAOC’s partners, members of Parliament in Rabat, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, the Mayor of Fes, the British council and Education for Employment Foundation to name a few.

 From there, the group will fly to Amman where they will meet with the Government Officials, which is a partner to the UNAOC, alongside journalists and young leaders involved in shaping the future of the region.  The group will also interact with the fellows from the 2012 class (Spring and Fall) of the Fellowship Program who are currently living in Jordan.

 “Our objective is to create an opportunity for these emerging leaders to see by themselves the reality of the other society, to deconstruct stereotypes and to become the messengers of new relations between the western and the Muslim world based on cooperation and trust,” says Jean-Christophe Bas, UNAOC Senior Advisor.

Finally, the group will travel to Jeddah Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the gulf, hosted by UNAOC’s partner OIC, Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Through a number of discussions and meetings,  the fellows will also have the opportunity to talk and exchange their views with their hosts on the current events in the Arab world. Beyond the meetings and conferences from which they are going to learn a lot, the fellows will also be given a chance to experience the richness of the country through visits to cultural and historic sites.

The fellows, selected among hundreds of applications, are a diverse group, and include:

Cédric Baecher (France) is co-founder and Director of Nomadéis, a Paris-based consulting agency focusing on sustainability and international cooperation issues. In 2011, one year ahead of Rio+20, he co-founded the ScenaRio 2012 project, the first global research on youth and sustainable development supported by 6 UN agencies and 4 corporate sponsors.

Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos (Germany) holds the position of Senior Communications Officer at the International Crisis Group headquarters in Brussels. She is co-founder and board member of the International Young Women Partnership, a volunteer network to further women’s careers, showcase highly accomplished female professionals and promote career information sharing among women.

Mohsin Mohi-Ud-Din (USA) is a Fulbright Scholar alum, artist/writer, activist, and academic. He is currently completing his masters at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. As a Fulbright Scholar, Mohsin led the music and film initiative for street children and drug addicts in Morocco, called Lollipops Crown Music and Arts Diplomacy Initiative. He taught them how to produce music and how to write, direct, and act in their own short films.

In May, twelve young leaders from North Africa and Europe will travel to  USA and Europe: New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Berlin, Brussels and Paris on a similar tour, meeting with government, civil society and other groups involved in this issue.

Source: UNAOC, New York, 2 April 2012

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