International Exchanges: Instilling Hope and Understanding for a Better 2016

Here I was, in a charter bus with 15 Pakistani young leaders, dancing to Punjabi music, while directing the Chinese bus driver where to go in the bustling streets of San Francisco. To most people, this situation would seem bizarre. However, these types of unique experiences are a typical part of my job at Meridian International Center. Although they are definitely different from the traditional diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges have the power to effect meaningful change. Most notably, these exchanges break down stereotypes to foster intercultural understanding. For the 2015 Emerging Leaders of Pakistan program, Meridian worked on behalf of...

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Community Development in Iraq through Volunteerism

By Ameer Sabri, Manager of Volunteers of Duhok University (VDU) Alumnus IYLEP 2015 Volunteers of Duhok University (VDU) is an initiative launched by a group of students from the University of Duhok – a fast-growing institution in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Established in March 2015, the idea of setting up a youth center was pitched by a student, Saeed Qasim, and his mates, Zeena, Pekhatin, Karzan, Matty, Khosh, Iman, Yoshia, Khalid, Shihab, Ahmed, and Iman Na’man to create and spread the culture of volunteerism among students. First of all, the VDU team developed a registration form for membership...

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The ‘Wonders’ of North Korea or 15 Things You Did Not Know About the Hermit Kingdom

  For the past year or so whenever the subject of North Korea comes up (and it does quite a bit especially when you work on a great program like the U.S. Congress – Republic of Korea National Assembly Exchange Program), folks always ask me what was it like going there, how did I get to go there in the first place and why, and is it that weird as the media portrays it. Aside from the Korean experts I had the privilege of getting to know over the years, most younger folks get their news about North Korea...

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Guatemalan Indigenous Leaders Visit to the U.S.

¡Bienvenidos! This was the word used all over DC as flashes of sky blue, deep indigo, and rich red were seen in the Senate, by the Monuments, in the House of Representatives, and even a local Subway. Seeing traditionally dressed Guatemalan Indigenous Leaders standing in line at Subway was definitely a site for onlookers, but it was a part of the experience that these leaders signed up for.     There was a moment when Officer of Press and Community Affairs, Municipality of Santo Tomas, Julio David Diaz Chay, discussed what December 21st 2012 really meant to the Mayan people which to the Western belief marked the...

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Beyond The Four Walls of a Classroom

Last December, Taliban militants assaulted the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan killing over 100 students and faculty in their classrooms and forever shaking the foundation of Pakistan. Just seven months later, Meridian supported twelve young men from the school on a program focused on global leadership and STEM. The twelve high school boys were joined by four American high schoolers throughout the program who soon discovered there was more that united them than divided them. Meridian partnered with the SUNY Polytechnic College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the International Center of the Capital Region, the New York Police...

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