In July and August 2017, participants from the U.S. Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania submitted project proposals for the program’s small grant opportunity for funding of up to $10,000. The projects submitted for the seminar theme, “Building Resilient Communities: Religious and Ethnic Diversity,” reflected an incredible array of relevant issues across the globe and innovative solutions for building stronger and more diverse communities. We are excited to share the six projects selected for funding by World Learning and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and express our excitement for the engaging ideas in all submitted proposals.
Congratulations to: Torran Anderson
Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to Norway, 2015–2016
Torran Anderson receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for his U.S.-based project, “Unity Roadtrip: Community Building through Interfaith, Inter-ethnic, Cross-Generational Storytelling,” along with fellow alumna Roberta Rosenburg. Torran’s project aims to address a culture of intolerance in Tucson, Arizona by joining youth of different ethnic and religious backgrounds in a study of Arizona’s World War II Japanese internment camps. Through a series of team-building exercises, dialogue trainings, and interviews with survivors of the camps, the Unity Roadtrip project will encourage students of different backgrounds to be empowered as a multicultural community through learning how fear and discrimination has affected their own local history.
Congratulations to: Joyce Kim
Fulbright U.S. Student Program to South Korea, 2015–2016
Joyce Kim is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for her goal to build resilient communities through shared dialogue in her project “Stories from the Hermit Kingdom: Sharing the North Korean Refugee Experience through Digital Art and Storytelling,” with fellow alumnus Justin Hoover. Her project addresses the gap between providing North Korean defectors with vital resources and giving these individuals a platform to share their stories and experiences. In collaboration with local NGOs, Joyce’s project will document the narratives of 30 North Korean defectors to be displayed in a collective art installation in Seoul, London, and Los Angeles as a path to building strong communities through shared narratives and intercultural dialogue.
Congratulations to: Krizia Lopez
Fulbright U.S. Student Program to Nicaragua, 2013–2014; Critical Language Scholarship to China, 2010
Krizia Lopez receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for her project advancing relationships between Syrian refugees and American citizens, “A Taste of Fusion: Advancing Integration and Inclusion of Syrian Refugees through Cuisine.” The project will join teams of Syrian and U.S. families in New York and New Jersey to work through a series of activities promoting rich cultural exchange and relationship building, culminating in an culinary competition for the teams to create an original Syrian-American fusion dish. These combined dishes symbolize integration and acceptance in the broader U.S. community and the stories of the Syrian refugees and American families coming together. The project will conclude with a collection of fusion recipes shared within the community as an emphasis on the power of everyday activities, like sharing a meal, in building stronger and more integrated communities in the U.S.
Congratulations to: Amina Mohamed
Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program to Spain, 2015
Challenging the exclusion of immigrant and refugee voices from typical narratives, Amina Mohamed is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for her project, “ILEAD (Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, Activism, and Dialogue),” in Kentwood, Michigan. The ILEAD project aims to empower young immigrant and refugee students by guiding them through a research project of famous Americans with stories and identities that echo their own and culminates in a presentation of their findings to community leaders. Through a monthly speaker series, ILEAD will allow immigrant and refugee students to continue building connections in their community, and ultimately shed light on the needs of marginalized groups in the community through open dialogue and narrative sharing.
Congratulations to: Brendan Schultz
Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (K-L YES Abroad) to Macedonia, 2015–2016
Brendan Schultz receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant to implement his project, “Bright Start: A Program to Expand Human Rights Education for School Students in Macedonia,” along with fellow alumni Jenette Sturges and Hannah Sholder. Bright Start will convene 30 students of education in Macedonia to undergo training in the resources available for human rights education and skills-building for engaging in human rights dialogue in classrooms to cultivate action against underlying ethnic tensions in Macedonian communities. The project aims to build stronger communities beginning in the Macedonian education system with instructors who recognize the importance of resilient and diverse communities.
Congratulations to: Stephanie Wolfe
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Malaysia, 2013
Building upon her network from Soccer without Borders, Stephanie Wolfe receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for her project working with newcomers in the Goodnow neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. The “Goodnow Good Neighbors Initiative” aims to act on concerns for neighborhood safety within the largely immigrant Goodnow neighborhood through fostering ongoing cooperation with one another, their local law enforcement, and other community members within Baltimore. The project will include a series of events and community building activities that culminate in a Neighborhood Safety Toolkit for the community, which will be developed with cultural and linguistic relevance by selected community leaders.
As these alumni implement their innovative project ideas, their progress and accomplishments will continue to be featured on the U.S. Alumni TIES Medium blog.