America’s Long-Term Investment

While it can be easy to focus on missteps in the history of US foreign policy efforts, working at Meridian International Center has provided me with a window into the long legacy of successful public diplomacy opportunities we create throughout the years on behalf of the Department of State (DOS) and U.S. embassies abroad. For instance, only a handful of individuals have heard about “Jazz Diplomacy” during the Cold War era. Famous Jazz Ambassadors—Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, and numerous others—joined forces with the DOS to avert crisis indirectly. Even though the...

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Guatemalan Indigenous Leaders Reconnecting with the Sacred Text of the Mayans

The Popol Vuh or “Book of the People” is a collection of mytho-historical narratives originating from the Post Classic K’iche Kingdom of Guatemala. These stories tell the tales of the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, the story of Creation, and other Mayan mythologies. The most celebrated mythology in the text is the story of the Hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The Hero Twins’ father was a great ballplayer who was tricked into death by the Lords of Death. When the Lords of Death learned that the Hero Twins were even better at ball than their father, the Lords again tried to trick the twins; however,...

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Applications for Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students Have Opened

This past week, I was fortunate enough to be present for the launch of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students (IYLEP) 2016 application. While we knew students were waiting for the chance to apply, the results were astonishing. Once the application was released, applications began to arrive almost immediately. Over 250 applications were started within the first 24 hours, and that number has steadily increased.  Currently, nearly 3,000 applications have been created and several thousand more are expected by the application period’s closing on December 1, 2015. Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students is implemented by...

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Fall Has Arrived: Halloween VS Día de los Muertos

Halloween and Día de los Muertos are two holidays that are commonly associated together, and most people assume they are interchangeable. However, contrary to popular belief, they are two separate holidays that have their own history, significance, and cultural background. Halloween has a long and extensive history, and its roots can be traced to a nearly 2000-year-old festival called Samhain (pronounced sah-win) to celebrate a new year. The Celts, a group of people that occupied lands stretching from the British Isles to Gallatia, celebrated Samhain on November 1st, a day that marks the end of summers and the harvest,...

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Why Meridian Matters

At the entrance of my alma mater, there is a sign that reads, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.” I passed by this sign every week on my way to school. It became a pivotal reminder as to the purpose behind my education – to become a more prepared global citizen and community leader. Since my time with Meridian International Center, I have continued to ponder on the sign and how it’s words apply to my experience with Meridian and its international programs. Last October, I decided to apply for the Washington D.C. Internship Program at my university....

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