NEW UME program! - The Oleander Initiative

UME is proud to annouce the launch of the Oleander Initiative, a series of programs and workshops designed to promote nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East and North Africa region. This initiative is made possible by the Bernard and Sandra Otterman Foundation,  a private foundation that supports global educational initiatives to foster sustainable peace, justice and coexistance.  UME is tremendously excited to be working on the implemention of the first pilot program - a seven day workshop for TEI alumni in Hiroshima, Japan in August, 2016.

A brief description of the Oleander Initiative can be found below. A Japanese translation follows the English description.

Please contact Ray Matsumiya, UME Executive Director at for more information regarding this initiative. 


Oleander Initiative Description

Months after the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, a small patch of red oleander flowers bloomed out of the irradiated rubble. Since then, red oleander has symbolized both the dangers of nuclear war and the hope of a more peaceful future. In a similar spirit, the Middle East Oleander Initiative will share the lessons of Hiroshima with educators from the Middle East to foster a deeper understanding of the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity. In turn, the Oleander Initiative participants will bring these lessons home to their students across the Middle East to foster a greater awareness of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war.

Program Description: From August 2 - 9, 2016, up to twenty high school teachers from the Middle East will gather in Hiroshima to learn first-hand from atomic bomb survivors about the horrors of nuclear war and from global experts about the basic issues of nuclear weapons - how they work and how to reduce the probability that they will ever be used again. The 2016 program will leverage "the power of place" of the city of Hiroshima - the first city to be devastated by a nuclear weapon - to generate awareness and inspire personal calls to action. In turn, teachers attending the seven day workshop will design educational activities specifically suited to their local contexts to raise consciousness about the perils of nuclear war. The 2016 pilot program in Hiroshima is the first of a series of educational programs, workshops and student activities designed to educate a broad foundation of future decision makers across the Middle East region. 

Program Activities:

  • Academic instruction for curriculum enhancements, classroom lesson plans and after school activities from top UME faculty from schools such as Harvard, MIT, Tufts and Boston College.
  • Presentations from local NGOs in Hiroshima involved in nuclear non-proliferation activities.
  • Testimonials from hibakusha atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • August 6thatomic bombing memorial activities
  • Site visits to the Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima Peace Museum and other atomic bomb sites of memory
  • Educational collaborations with teachers and students from Hiroshima
  • Ongoing evaluation and in-country follow on activities after the conclusion of the works

Participants: The Oleander Initiative will include up to 20 highly vetted secondary school teachers from throughout the Middle East. All teachers are fluent in English and have attended UME's flagship program in Boston sponsored by the US State Department-- an initiative with an acceptance rate of less than 5%.

Contact: For more information, please email UME Executive Director Ray Matsumiya at



広島に原子爆弾が投下されてから数ヶ月後、被爆した廃墟の中から小さな赤い夾竹桃の群落が花をつけた。その時以来、赤色の夾竹桃は核戦争の危険性と同時に、平和な未来への希望の象徴となっている。それと同じ意味合いで「中近東夾竹桃計画(Middle East Oleander Initiative)」は、この広島の教訓を中近東の教育者と共有し、人類に対する核兵器の脅威に対するより深い理解を培う事を目的としている。その結果、夾竹桃計画への参加者はこれらの教訓を自国に持ち帰り、学生たちに核不拡散の理念を植え付けることになるであろう。



○UME (University of Middle East Project) に参加しているハーバード大学,マサチューセッツ工科大学、タフツ大学、ボストンカレッジ等の教授によるカリキュラム向上、教科内容及び課外活動のプラン作成に関する講義。













このプロジェクトに関する詳細についてRay Matsumiya(レイ・マツミヤ)UME事務局長(RayMat@ume.orgまでご連絡下さい。



UME Executive Director presents UME at the Cyrus conference at Harvard University

UME Executive Director Ray Martsumiya presented at the Cyrus conference at Harvard University between April 24-26. He presented the "Making of a Social Entrepreneur" which told the story of how Samira, an UME alumna helped create the Somerville-Tiznit Sister cIty partnership. He explored how a combinatin of factors including Samira's exceptional qualties, UME's national and international networks and the support provided by UME's alumni association that enabled this initiative to impact thousands of people and resulted in Samira winning the prestigeousState Department Alumni of the Month Award.   

UME successfully implement the Dalton Morocco Program with Envoys

UME is pleased to announce the successful implementation of the Dalton Morocco Program in partnership with Envoys , a Cambridge. MA and Bogota, Columbia based educational organization that specializes in educational exchanges for high school students to develop cultural competency and a global perspective.


The program ran between March 9 and March 19th and included 10 students and 2 teachers from the Dalton School in New York City. Students engaged in a variety of cross cultural activities with Moroccan students and civic organizations in to Rabat, Fes and Marrakesh.  All activities were jointly implemented with the Association for Moroccan Alumni of UME (AMA).


UME's Sister Cities Connections Expand through the Monkeyhouse Performance Arts Group

I am pleased to announce the Somerville - Tiznit Sister Cities connection established by UME continues to expand through others. This time, it is led by Karen Krolack who attended both 2009 and 2011 delegations to Tiznit. Karen is the Artistic Director of Monkeyhouse a performance arts organization in Somerville. She has successfully organized a series of performances and workshops by Fluer d'Orange, a dance troupe from Morocco for the Somerville community A full description of the weeks events can be found below. Thank you for keeping this connection with Morocco strong and vibrant Karen! 

Connecting Communities to Choreography 

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Hind Benali of Fleur D'Orange

You've heard talk over the summer of our residency with Fleur d'Orange.  Well, it is finally upon us!  Hind, Soufiane, and company will be arriving in Boston in just a couple of weeks and we couldn't be more excited!  Since there are SO many Fleur d'Orange Residency events we will be dedicating this newsletter (almost) entirely to all things Moroccan.

Below is the basic rundown of events but you can get more information about any of them HERE!

We can't wait to see you at a workshop, the artist reception and the performance!
Best-- Nicole and All your friends at Monkeyhouse

Curator's Corner
by karen Krolak

Have you ever started on a walk or a journey and been surprised by where you ended up?  

Oddly enough, our Fleur D'Orange residency began with a series of walks. As you may remember, I ended my sabbatical in 2008 by attending the choreographers' workshop at Jacob's Pillow. I felt so emboldened by my experiences there and during my year off that I applied for a fellowship through the Somerville Arts Council. My proposal was to explore how walking through Somerville with various people and by myself might inspire new directions for my work. I was delighted and a tiny bit surprised that I was subsequently awarded a fellowship from the SAC in 2009. 

At the time, Jason was working for Actors' Shakespeare Project in the Armory building. During Open Studios, we walked up to the Armory and Jason introduced me to the staff at the University of the Middle East who suggested that we apply to be part of a delegation to Tiznit, Morocco as part of a Sister Cities project. The idea of walking around Morocco with representatives from Somerville, including Mayor Joe, was a little intimidating but seemed to be a fabulous way to culminate my year of investigation. My parents and Jason encouraged my to push beyond my insecurities and fill out the application. Once again, I was startled to be accepted into the delegation. Then the concern was how I was going to find funding to cover the transportation costs of getting to Morocco (the rest of the trip was covered through funds from the State Department and the City of Tiznit). Before I could even begin the fundraising process, my parents called to offer to pay the entire amount. because they were so proud that I was extending my creative focus to a project focused on person to person diplomacy. 

  Keep Reading » 

Fleur d'Orange Artist Reception
Come meet Hind, Soufiene and Mohcine!
Thursday, October 16th @ 6:30pm-8pm
Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg St, Somerville, MA
What's in a Name?
Workshop with Karen Krolak & Hind Benali, Ages 8-14
Friday, October 17th @ 5:30pm-7pm
Center for Arabic Culture, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville
Workshop with Soufiene Karim
Hip-Hop Workshop, Ages 11+
Friday, October 17th @ 6:30pm
Impulse Dance Center, 5 Summer St, Natick, MA
Workshop with Hind Benali
Contemporary Workshop at CAC
Friday, October 17th @ 7pm
Center for Arabic Culture, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville
Workshop with Hind Benali
Contemporary Workshop at Endicott College
Saturday, October 18th @ 2pm
Endicott College, 376 Hale Street, Beverly, MA
Workshop with Soufiene Karim
Hip-Hop Workshop at Endicott College
Saturday, October 18th @ 3:30pm
Endicott College, 376 Hale Street, Beverly, MA
An Evening Length Performance
Sunday, October 19th @ 5pm
Arts At the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville
Pingree School Workshops
Private Workshops at the Pingree School
Monday, October 20th



UME partners with Envoys and the AMA to implement cross cultural exchange programs

UME is pleased to announce a partnership with Envoys , a Cambridge. MA and Bogota, Columbia based educational organization that specializes in educational exchanges for high school students to develop cultural competancy and a global perspective.

UME and its alumni at the Association for Moroccan Alumni of UME (AMA) will be working with Envoys in the program design and implementation of two trips planned for March and June, 2014. UME is very excited about this partnership and hopes it is the first of many to come. 


UME successfully implements SAP internship program

UME is proud to announce the completion of the UME Saudi SAP internship program.  This program partnered UME with SAP, "the world leader in enterprise software and software-related services."  The UME Saudi SAP Internship program was our first large scale program enabled by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding.

The UME Saudi SAP internship program enabled 10 unemployed recent graduates from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to gain six months of valuable experience in various fields within SAP Saudi Arabia, including Sales, Consultancy, Engineering, Marketing, Financial Management, HR - as well as the opportunity of permanent employment within SAP, its customer and partner community. As this is the inaugural program at SAP Saudi Arabia, UME' contribtued to the desgn of the program, implemented a thorough two part evaluation and provided mid program recommendations while this program was in session.  UME hopes that this is the first of many programs with SAP. 

The UME Saudi SAP internship program continued UME's work in promoting the 21st century work skills of collaboration, consensus building and critical thinking skills in a multicultural work environment. Through this program, UME hopes to address the major issue of unemployment in young people and contribute to the stability to the MENA region.  

Egyptian UME Alumna Wins 2013 Model Teacher of the Year Award

Egyptian UME Alumna Wins 2013 Model Teacher of the Year Award


UME is proud to announce that Nevine Farid, UME alumna (TEI 2009, CEW 2010) has won the 2013 Model Teacher Award for the Cairo governorate-Road El Farag Directorate. Nevine was recognized for her teaching training workshops that she designed and developed at the 2010 CEW in Cairo. Nevine trained over 500 teachers in Cairo through following workshops:

  • Democracy and the Social Role of Youth
  • Violance Prevention
  • How to protect kids Against Sexual Harassement
  • Leadership and Human resources



Congratulations Nevine! We are so proud of you!


Alumni in Morocco successfully implement large scale workshop

AMA Project Creation, Leadership and Management Skills Workshop


UME is proud to announce that the Association of Moroccan Alumni of the UME (AMA) has successfully implemented the Project Creation, Leadership, and Management Skills Workshop between April 11 - 16, 2013.

Sponsored by the AMA's first successful grant to the American Embassy in Rabat, this workshop included over 40 Moroccan youth from 12 different cities in Morocco who engaged in public speaking, effective communication skills, collaborative art, coflict resolution,and project management sessions taught by UME Alumni.

Established in 2006, the AMA has conducted numerous local workshops throughout Morocco, as well as co-implemented UME programs with UME staff in Boston. However, this ambitious workshop was the first nation wide initiative undertaken by the AMA and by all reports an amazingly successful one. 

All of us at UME are so proud of our colleagues in Morocco and wish them the best of luck on future projects!

Ray Matsumiya

Executive Director

UME Participant Named State Dept Alumnus of the month



Samira Idelcadi named State Dept Alumnus of the Month _______________________________________________________

UME is proud to announce that Samira Idelcadi (TEI 2006, CAI 2008 and CEW 2010) was named US State Department's Bureau of Cultual and Educational Affairs International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month.  Samira is being recognized for the vital role she played in helping connect hundreds of Moroccans and Americans in the spirit of mutual understanding via the Somerville-Tiznit

Sister Cities Exchange.  Please click here to see Samira's accomplishments on the US State Department International Exchanges Website.

According to the State Department representative presenting this wonderful news to UME, "Of more than 1,000,000 alumni around the world, Samira is only the 89th alumna to receive this honor“

Throughout the month of January, she will be featured on the State Department’s International Exchange Alumni website which is followed by more than 100,000 of her alumni peers around the world.

Congratulations Samira!



UME Alumni Activities Update

TEI alumni activities update

I recently returned from an inspiring trip to Morocco that highlighted the amazing work of our TEI alumni made possible by UME institutes and workshops.

In Marrakesh, Houssnia (2007 alumna), inspired by the UME led Somerville – Tiznit Sister Cities Partnership, helped re invigorate the long dormant Scottsdale – Marrakesh Sister City relationship with a week long educational and cultural immersion trip to Scottsdale, AZ with five of her students. This potentially life changing experience for her students required two years of intense, dedicated effort, as Houssnia nearly singlehandedly fundraised, organized and obtained permissions from various ministries to make her project a reality.

Houssnia and her students in Scottsdale, AZ

To see a short video of Houssnia’s students in Scottsdale please click here


On her experience, Houssnia said “I wanted my students to feel the excitement and growth I had during my UME program in Boston. You have inspired in me, this project for peace work that will serve the world to become a better place. I believe that these projects of sister cities bring people together and clear away the stereotypes that the mass-media create about people and nations.”


In Rabat, the Alumni of Moroccan Alumni of the University of the Middle East Project (AMA) made a major step in its development by applying for and receiving its first large-scale grant from the US embassy. The AMA is a legally recognized, independent NGO established by UME’s Moroccan Alumni in 2007. Following years of accomplishing high – impact but small-scale initiatives with extremely limited resources, this grant will enable the AMA to do its work on a grander scale and implement a series of multi - phase workshops promoting civic engagement for students in ten different regions in Morocco. UME is tremendously proud and excited for the AMA wish Samira Idelcadi, the new AMA president the best of luck for this groundbreaking initiative.

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