Undergraduate Exchange Program scholars gathered to hear presentations from OSI President Aryeh Neier, OSI staff and the Global Youth Action Network, as well as to reconnect with each other after their initial summer school in Turkey.
Undergraduate Exchange Program scholars gathered at OSI-New York in March 2009 to hear presentations from OSI President Aryeh Neier, OSI staff and the Global Youth Action Network, as well as to reconnect with each other after their initial summer school in Turkey in July 2008.
In addition to walking through the technicalities of the grant, scholars got the opportunity to interact with UEP staff (Anne Campbell, Program Manager and Matthew Wilson, Program Coordinator) to outline the expectations of the civil society components of the grant, namely the US-based community service work to be completed by each grantee, as well as the year-long Home Country Project, to be started upon their return home.
Grantees, whether hosted at New York-based institutions or at more far-flung universities including the universities of Arkansas, Georgia, Washington, and Wisconsin, had the opportunity to experience some of the diverse work of OSI from some of its most influential staff members.
Perhaps most pertinent in this regard was a rare question-and-answer opportunity with OSI's president, Aryeh Neier. In anticipation of the session, Mr. Neier invited scholars to submit questions on issues of their choice. Topics ranged from Mr. Neier's personal history to his views and work on the human rights situation in the Balkans.
An introduction to the open educational movement was presented by Melissa Hagemann, Program Manager at OSI's Information Program, with Hernán Bonomo outlining the work of OSI's Youth Initiative.
Day 2 saw the attendees working with trainers from the Global Youth Action Network (GYAN). Grantees spent the day learning about how to conceive, organize, fund and implement a civil society project, using their initial Home Country Project ideas to help conceptualize potential difficulties in implementing a project from scratch. However, by the end of the day, students were already able to think through their project ideas in a clearer and more efficient manner.
The conference offered the last opportunity for UEP alumni to be together during their scholarship time in the U.S., but participants left with renewed friendships and a secure feeling about the end of the semester and the projects to be completed back home later in the year.