Far-Reaching Positive Effects: Humphrey Fellowship Helps Participants Make Differences Around the World
The academic year for the eleven Humphrey Fellows who worked and studied at Penn State this year may be drawing to a close, but its effects will continue. These international professionals are excited to build on the skills and knowledge that they attained through the Humphrey Fellowship Program.
The Humphrey Fellowship Program is a one-year, non-degree program of combined academic and professional development opportunities for mid-career international professionals at one of eighteen participating universities in the United States. Throughout the year they participate in public service, advanced study, professional training, and work-related experiences. The eleven 2013 Humphrey Fellows at Penn State are:
• Duaa Al-Khreisha, Jordan
• Hina Baloch, Pakistan
• Constansia Banda, Namibia
• Owen Baya, Kenya
• Adriana Cundar, Ecuador
• Eka Jeladze, Georgia
• Luka Juros, Croatia
• Sitti Khadijah, Indonesia
• Diana Stah, Moldova
• Tran Tran, Vietnam
• Wishnoe Wishnoebroto, Indonesia
The Fellows all agree that the Fellowship was as much about giving back to society as it was about learning. Al-Khreisha said that the program was a fantastic experience that she believes will not only benefit her, but her home country of Jordan.
“This program was a good experience to bridge the gap between East and West,” said Al-Khreisha. “I was able to participate in numerous community events where I was able to learn and also share my knowledge.”
Humphrey Fellows also develop Capstone Projects as a part of the program. These are projects that aim to solve a problem in the Fellows’ home countries.
Cundar is working on a project that will create a handbook about peer observation in education, a process that she says is missing in her country of Ecuador. She is hopeful that her project will help bring a new level of educational development to Ecuadorian society.
Stah’s project is a guide to project management that is tailored to her home country of Moldova. She hopes that she will be able to improve Moldovan society by sharing principles and best practices learned through the Fellowship.
Another aspect of the Fellowship is the professional affiliation where Fellows work 240 hours with different professional organizations. This year, some Fellows decided to work with large international groups like The World Bank and The Red Cross, but others chose to work with smaller local organizations such as the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC). Banda worked with the CCWRC and hopes replicate the CCWRC model in her home country of Namibia.
“I worked as an advocate for victims of domestic violence,” said Banda, who said she is eager to bring this knowledge back home to Africa by collaborating closely with the government officials in Namibia. Banda also developed the African Humphrey’s Forum, a group of sub-Saharan Humphrey Fellows who work to facilitate partnership between government leaders in Africa.
The Fellows had numerous opportunities to attend courses and conferences through the year. The highlight for many Fellows was the Global Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., a five-day event where participants had the opportunity to meet Fellows from each of the other eighteen host universities, as well as staff from the Institute of International Education, and key representatives from the U.S. State Department.
Not only were Fellows intrigued by the formal courses and professional experiences, but they also were excited to see other aspects of U.S. culture that might not be found in a Fellow’s home country. For example, many of the Fellows were very interested in promoting the idea of recycling back home.
“I am very pro-environment,” said Al-Khreisha. “Every time I walk out into a hall and see the recycling bins, I wish we had something like this back home.”
Overall, the Fellows said the year was intense, but extremely profitable for themselves, those they worked with, and their individual countries.
“It is a huge process to invest in oneself,” said Stah, “but one that is well worth it.”
Banda echoed that sentiment by saying that the year spent in the Fellowship improved her skills and boosted her passion for her work.
--by Kevin Sliman (April 2013)