IPCR N Morocco
Melissa Gang, MA/IPCR ’10, and Rebecca Davis, MA/IPCR ’11, traveled to Tiznit, Morocco as members of a dialogue facilitation team to help inaugurate a Sister Cities Inter- national relationship between Tiznit and Somerville, MA during a University of the Middle East Project (UME).
IPCR students learned about this opportunity through Professor Wanis-St. John who helped found UME over a decade ago and continues to consult with the organization.
Gang and Davis facilitated relationship-building sessions between American and Moroc- can participants who work in similar professional sectors. Gang worked with a group eight American and six Moroccan artists who visited local artists’ studios, theatrical performances, and even collaborated on a mural.
e goal of the program was to facilitate the creation of solid and sustainable partnerships
between the participants, a goal, Gang said, made easier by the eagerness of the participants.
“I left having gained knowledge about the management of such a workshop, and some of the potential logistic challenges, and also with a renewed faith in the ability of people to spend 18 hours a day making friends with one another,” said Gang.
For Davis, the practical experience of watching UME, an American organization, and the Association of Moroccan Alumni of UME, a Moroccan organization, work together was invaluable. “e week long program manifested many of the challenges around culture discussed in the IPCR program,” she said.
Joseph Imbriano, MA/IPCR ’10, traveled with a delegation of twenty graduate students on a joint US-Syrian initiative in citizen diplomacy and conflict resolution. Hosted by the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) at George Mason University, the group traveled to Damascus, Syria to meet with high ranking leaders, presidential advisors, and religious leaders.
e program allowed Imbriano to explore the use of citizen diplomacy as a peace-
building tool, particularly in religious and culturally infused conflict.
“In collaboration with our Syrian colleagues, we embarked upon creating ways in which we could encourage healthy US-Syrian dialogue and negotiation at the mid level rungs of leadership, promote intercultural education exchanges to lift the present fog of confusion and foster understanding, and build relationships that bridge the trench.
e delegation’s presence also attracted international media attention from news out-
lets in Syria, Iran, Israel, and Europe.
For Imbriano, the trip provided a more personal opportunity to lend an ear to the voices of Syrians, which he said, are often forgotten, overshadowed, or distorted by the media.
“I look forward to coordinating our group’s projects to present a more accurate pic- ture of Syria to US policy-makers, facilitate intercultural exchange, and continue to be citizens of positive change,” said Imbriano.
In Fall ’09, Amanda Breunig, MA/IPCR ’10, traveled to New Delhi, India to conduct research for her Substantial Research Paper. While living with a friend’s family, Breunig conducted interviews with professionals, professors, and journalists.
“It was a very eye opening experience and living with a family introduced me to a new set of cultural values very different from home,” she said. “I also became very self-aware of my gender identity as a female, as I felt a gender divide much different than what I feel in the U.S.”
Breunig’s research in India is related to her (SRP), which looks at the intersection of religion and democracy in secular politics.
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