Time has flown since the Legislative Fellows Program-North Africa delegates left the United States in November. Since their return to Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, they have had a chance to reflect on their experience in the US, the value of their fellowships, and the lessons they will be taking home with them. Here they share some of their reflections.
The Professional Fellows Congress, which brought Legacy’s 12 fellows together with about 200 fellows from around the world, was a highlight for many. Chiraz valued this part of the program because “it was a unique opportunity to meet and interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds,” while “attending high level trainings.”
Legacy’s Legislative Fellows Program is one part of the “Professional Fellows Program,” which is sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a series of grants to non-profit organizations and universities.
The fellowship experience was valuable for many because of the nuances and insights it brought to fellows’ ideas about democracy and governance as practiced in the US. Their conclusions and new ideas differ greatly from one another, and shed light on the diversity of experience that participants have in the United States.
- Shaimaa from Egypt said that the most surprising thing she learned about the US was that the country and the people have their own share of difficulties, even though, “the media always portrays Americans in a very superior way. In real life, they are not so superior at all.”
- Chiraz observed that “the American system is a sure example of democracy but it’s not a perfect example.”
- Ammad, on the other hand, observes that the US is the global leader because of “the basic strong foundation of government systems,” and feels that although “the legislative process is long and complicated, it is worth all the effort to shape the future with freedom, fairness, and rights.”
- Muhammed, from Egypt, noted that his best meetings were with American youth working in election monitoring and political reform because he was “amazed at how much dedication and resourcefulness the youth have.”
Upon returning home the Fellows are sharing their experiences with friends, family and coworkers. Ahmed says he will share this experience by “implementing my project based on new principles I have learned, such as the importance of opportunities for all and helping others to achieve their goals. I hope to be a good example and influence for the youth, and encourage many youth to apply to such programs abroad.”
In reflecting on the best lesson she learned, Shaimaa of Egypt says that, “people are people. What brings us together is way more important than what sets us apart.”