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State Department fellowship programs brings emerging leaders to the U.S. to share skills

  • Ilham Darwazeh of Amman, Jordan, is a visiting fellow in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. She spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a visiting fellow in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. He spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh, left, of Amman, Jordan, and Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, are visiting fellows in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. They spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh, left, of Amman, Jordan, and Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, are visiting fellows in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. They spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh, left, of Amman, Jordan, and Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, are visiting fellows in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. They spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on May 24. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a visiting fellow in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. He spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh of Amman, Jordan, is a visiting fellow in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. She spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh of Amman, Jordan, is a visiting fellow in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. She spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ilham Darwazeh, left, of Amman, Jordan, and Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, are visiting fellows in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. They spoke with the Gazette at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mark Protti is executive director of the Institute for Training and Development which is conducting the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan this spring in Amherst. Photograph taken on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Gazette reporter Emily Cutts, left, interviews Ilham Darwazeh, center, of Amman, Jordan, and Or Sadan of Tel Aviv, Israel, visiting fellows in the Professional Fellows Program on civic participation with Israel and Jordan that is being conducted this spring by the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst. Photograph taken at the ITD house in Amherst on Thursday, May 24, 2018. The civic engagement project is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



@ecutts_HG
Saturday, June 02, 2018

For three weeks, 16 people from Israel and Jordan visited Massachusetts as part of the Professional Fellow Program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and focused on the theme of civic engagement.

“It’s a pretty wide theme, but in general it means getting citizens motivated and access to government around the decisions that affect them,” said Mark Protti, executive director of Amherst’s Institute for Training and Development — a grantee organization for the state department’s funds.

The Professional Fellow Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States to broaden their professional expertise, according to ITD.

Split evenly — eight fellows from Israel eight fellows from Jordan — they were placed in eight host organizations across the state like the Northampton Police Department, the Massachusetts Women’s legislative Caucus, the City of Holyoke and in the offices of state representatives John C. Velis and Aaron Vega.

“Human-to-human interaction has been the most important part of U.S. diplomacy and foreign relations,” Protti said. “At ITD, we are genuinely committed to international exchange. At best, it expands new horizons, new knowledge, new ideas.”

ITD is one of 14 U.S.-based nonprofit organizations and universities chosen to host foreign professionals from countries and territories worldwide. Later this year, 16 fellows from Morocco will come to Massachusetts as part of the same grant. In early 2019, 10 people from host organizations will travel to Israel, Jordan and Morocco as part of the exchange.

Skills to bring home

For 34-year-old Jordanian Ilham Darwazeh, the fellow ship was a chance to see a new culture and learn new skills. Darwazeh worked with Cambridge’s Essential Partners, a nonprofit organization that helps people and communities conduct difficult conversations.

Darwazeh formerly worked for the United Nations in events and translation. She is now a student writing her thesis for her masters degree in human rights and human development.

“I thought it was a chance to discover a new culture and I need this experience to challenge myself ... I like to learn, more and more,” Darwazeh said. “It was attractive because I would learn from a diverse context in the U.S. –  the translation U.S. context.”

Darwazeh said Cambridge’s Essential Partners was a good fit.

“I think it was a perfect match for me,” she said. “They put questions that go down to the core values of the main topic and it makes the dialogue more fruitful. I have never been in a dialogue in such ways.”

Katie Hayten, the director of program operations for Essential Partners, said the conversations her organization fosters sometimes seem impossible. “Our goal is to help support more constructive conversation in the midst of deep differences,” she said.

Darwazeh said she plans to use the methods she learned back in Jordan in her work with Syrian refugees.

“It will be like a tool — the dialogue — to have them integrated in Jordan and to have a sense of belonging to the place they are in,” Darwazeh said. “This can be achieved through having a dialogue between Syrian refugees outside the camp and with Jordanians.”

Darwazeh also envisions the conversations helping refugees feel more connected to the place they are in.

“I think it will help them to overcome the trauma they went through and to make them think about the bright future,” she said.

For Essential Partners, the fellowship was equally beneficial, Hayten said. Darwazeh’s perspective of the role that conversation and control over daily life can play in dealing with trauma is something the organization is interested in researching further, she said. “It was a really wonderful experience for us. It’s always just so interesting for us to learn about what other folks are doing and learn about their experiences.”

Broader perspective

For 30-year-old Or Sadan, of Israel, the program was a chance to reflect on his work as legal counsel for the organization Movement for Freedom of Information and as Emile Zola Chair for Human Rights Fellow.

“We work pretty hard in our daily jobs everyone here and in Israel,” he said. “We never have the time to reflect what we are doing. We never have the time to talk about what we are doing. ... To taste a bit of the world and to talk to other people, both from Israel but the fact that it was with Jordanians as well, was a nice incentive.”

Spending his time in the Franklin county Justice Center, as well as the Franklin County Courthouse and with judge Mary Lou Rup, Sadan was able to visit a number of courthouses and court proceedings. Along with a second fellow, Sadan saw a jail and went to housing court and immigration court. He spoke with judges, public defenders, prosecutors and witnessed the final ceremony for the program Changing Lives Through Literature, a program through court-ordered probation which has probationers, judges and probation officers in sessions together to form a sort of reading group. That program stuck with him.

“I was thinking about trying to implement the Changing Life Through Literature back in Israel,” he said. “I felt like it is a really impressive thing for some reasons. It helps expand minds. Literature can reflect your own life, it can help you deal with big ordeals, hardships and hard times.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.