For the first time the participants from Rwanda and Uganda with their USA counterparts participated in Fellows 2016 working under Smith College to conduct a trilateral exchange program on “Cross-Sectoral Development in the Fields of Tolerance and Conflict Resolution in Rwanda, Uganda, and the US”. The grant project aims to foster mutual understanding, collaboration, global networking, and leadership and professional skills development among Africans and Americans.
Two groups of Africans were selected to go to the U.S. for six-week professional fellowship programs in 2016. With Uganda and Rwanda making great strides in preserving peace in a notoriously prone to violence region of the Great lakes of Africa were given opportunity to share knowledge and experiences exchange.
Each program started with one week of orientation activities hosted by Smith College. The week also included lectures, site visits, and cultural outings. During weeks 2-5 African Fellows were placed with host organizations in Western Massachusetts to learn how those organizations provide conflict resolution and other peace-building services.
The project was also funded by the State Department.
“There was no other better way to complete this exciting 3 day Professional Fellows Congress than watching the fellows present their wonderful and thrilling videos filled with fun, lessons learnt from their cities of placements, places traveled to, food they ate, the music they danced.
Ambitions to achieve when they return to their home countries and friends they have made while in the United States was the main focal point. Above all, making it possible for us join the biggest network of Alumni across the globe. Thanks to the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and all the partner organizations for making this a reality.” Said. Julius Kansiime Child Protection Specialist at Africa Social Development & Health Initiatives
During the Fellowship Program the participants had a chance to interact in different activities like Jewish Ritual for Grief, Loss and Forgiveness, different cultural activities, open church services. They also visited museums of natural history.
“I do my daily work and at the same time the memories about US are so bright. It was short but meaningful period of time for me. PFP was a great opportunity to understand American best practice in my field, improve leadership abilities, and represent my country.
I had a very fruitful and enjoyable experience during my time at my work place and with my host family. I enjoyed learning about Tolerance and Conflicts Resolution, at Smith college, Northampton, MA. I returned home with a message of friendship, interests and opportunity. I would like to thank United States Department Of State, Bureau Of Educational And Cultural Affairs (ECA), American Council, PFP team, ACYPL. Especially thank you Davron, Jamie and Leslie for your care and attentiveness.
Thank you all for your energy and enthusiasm. I trust that it is just beginning of something bigger. And also it was such a pleasure to see all fellows in person in Washington. Again, thank you so much and I look forward to seeing you in future. I would like to express my gratitude to my lecturers, mentors and Staff of Mount Kenya University for making my dream come to of getting my degree” – Recounts
Diane Mushyimiyimana President and Founder RICAD RWANDA and the Author.
The Fellows also visited the Urban Youth Social Service Agnecy and they had interaction with volunteers in feeding the homeless youth, during the visit they were briefed on how the agency works on daily basis and what it does in order to improve the wellbeing of the homeless youth in general.
Marsha Kline Pruett, the Resident Faculty, School for Social Work, Smith College, her interests mainly focuses on the relationships and conflict resolution within the family as well as the Community and Organization. She reminded the Fellows that the lessons they got from Smith College should help in resolving conflicts in the region and promoting peace in general via mutual understand.
“I appreciate the efforts you have done and improving your different institutions where you are all representing here, she thanked the fellows and pledged continued support”
After the completion of the Professional Fellows Program, the participants sat in groups and prepared an Action Plans and summaries.
The Fellows of 2016 promised continued Professional working relationship with diferent stakeholders and giving out leadership knowledge on Tolerance and Conflict resolution back to their countries and the region.