News

A Tale of Two Cities: Photos and Report from an extraordi​nary week in Somerville!


Tiznit Participants in front of Somerville CIty Hall with Mayor Curtatone

The University of the Middle East Project is proud to announce the successful implementation of the second phase of the Community-Based Partnership for Employment (CPE) program between the communities of Somerville, MA and Tiznit, Morocco. This unique program created an opportunity for individuals to bond and develop friendships in an intense two-way exchange on two continents over three weeks. The reciprocal nature of the program, with both communities taking a turn hosting a delegation, set up what one participant called, "a hospitality war", as each group was shown a profound amount of sincere hospitality from the receiving hosts.

The potential effects of this hospitality and partnership formation are far reaching. Our hope is that the deep bonds created this past month will generate momentum into the future and unite not only the individuals directly participating, but also create a ripple effect forging partnerships for years to come. It’s an exciting time here at UME and we would like to share with you some highlights from phase two of our Community Based Partnership for Employment program.

The CPE is an ambitious dual exchange program designed to link the communities of Somerville, MA and Tiznit, Morocco with the aim of developing avenues of collaboration and partnerships that benefit youth development and employment in both communities. The CPE program is a continuation of the Sister City relationship between the two cities first established in December, 2009.
Between April 28-May 4, 19 Tiznit residents and employees traveled to Somerville to develop the relationships created in the first phase of the program. The main aim was to further collaborate with their professional counterparts in each respective country with the focus of youth development, employment, and the cultivation of 21st century job skills.


Lee Staples, a participant in the first phase in Tiznit, hosted a workshop at Boston
University where strategies in social change were discussed.

The CPE program also received significant media coverage including an article in the Boston Globe and another in the Somerville Journal.

Our participants were taken to various site visits depending on their profession. The CPE group split between an education group and a combined government, city planning, public health group. Each group met the professionals in their area of expertise through meetings, workshops, and site visits.



Participant and filmmaker, Said Belli, posing for a picture during a tour of the MIT campus.

For one week, Tiznit educators, politicians, social workers, artists and bussinessmen were hosted by the community of Somerville to create connections in a time where relationship building is the key to creating a thriving global community.


Tiznit educators attending a workshop with Teen Empowerment, a local NGO
that seeks to empower youth to bring positive social change at the grassroots level.

The delegation was taken on tours of the premier institutions in the Boston area. We were further supported with graduates from the universities that were affiliated through the first phase of the program or through UME friends.


Mayor Joe Curtatone and President Ouammou addressing the delegation about the
importance of sister city relationships at this point in history.

Massachusetts State representative Denise Provost for the 27th Middlesex District hosted the delegation at the State House and continued to build the relationship between Tiznit and Somerville on a governmental level.


The delegation touring the Massachusetts State House with Rep. Provost

UME is proud of the work done by both communities through the CPE program. We hope that the partnerships created through the programmed activities will soon blossom and further unite the two groups. The topics of youth development, employment, and the cultivation of 21st century skills were both explored in hands on interactive exposure but also discussed through dialogue and workshop settings.


President Hala Taweel, UME staff and Tiznit Participants at the Boston Public Gardens

We were lucky to work with individuals that created excitement around forging partnerships and further developing this sister city relationship. The hospitality and warmth shown by each side only made the goals of the program easier to achieve.

Artists from the delegation displayed their work at Brickbottom Gallery and the participating artists from the Somerville delegation hosted a potluck dinner celebrating the partnerships developed over the last month.

The CPE program concluded with a Cross Cultural Celebration of Communities at the Brickbottom Artists Gallery that included over 130 guests and featured music by Mike Rivard on Sintir (who went to Tiznit in 2009)and Little Bang. This gathering also previewed an upcoming gallery opening of Tiznit artists this September. Stay tuned for an invitation to this exciting event.


President Ouammou and Tiznit participants at the UME office

Many thanks to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US State Department, the City of Somerville, the City of Tiznit, the Regional Council of Souss Massa Daraa and the Moroccan American Cultural Center for their sponsorships.

Special thanks to Brahim, Samira, Omar, Idriss from Tiznit and Ahmed and all the Association of Moroccan Alumni members who made this all possible!

Sincerely,
Ray Matsumiya
Executive Director

Successful Implementation of Phase One of the Community Based Partnership for Employment in Tiznit, Morocco

The University of the Middle East Project is proud to announce the successful implementation of the first phase of the Community Based Partnership for Employment (CPE) program between the communities of Somerville, MA and Tiznit, Morocco. 

CPE participants at the El Mers Cultural Center

The CPE is an ambitious dual exchange program designed to link the communities of Somerville, MA and Tiznit, Morocco with the aim of developing avenues of collaboration and partnerships that benefit youth development and employment in both communities.  The CPE program is a continuation of the Sister City relationship between the two cities first established in December, 2009.

Between April 18 and April 24, 20 Somerville residents and employees traveled to Tiznit, Morocco to meet and collaborate with their professional counterparts in Tiznit with the focus of youth development, employment, and the cultivation of 21st century job skills.

  

CPE participants with Tiznit youth for a discussion based exercise on the challenges of the 21st Century workplace

Our participants were taken to various site visits depending on their profession.  The CPE group split between an education group and a combined government, city planning, public health group. Both groups worked directly with their Tizniti counterparts on the common theme of youth development.

  

Moroccan and American educators sharing both strengths and weaknesses in their classrooms and discussing ways to further develop their teaching skills.

  

CPE participants visiting progressive transit projects being implemented in Tiznit

Massachusetts State representative Denise Provost for the 27th Middlesex District joined the second Somerville delegation and continued to build the relationship between the two cities on a governmental level.


State representative Denise Provost and UME Executive Director presenting a tapestry of historic Somerville sites to Governor Driss Benaddou of Tiznit

The CPE program also received significant media coverage including an article in the Agence Maghreb Arabe Pressee. Please click here for the article

A future television segment on is also planned following the conclusion of filming of the Tiznit delegation in Somerville between April 28- May 3. 

 

  

CPE participant Josh Wairi being interviewed during a school visit

A site visit to a local orphanage was conducted as a way for the social workers to view how Tiznit provides the community with social services.

  

As in the 2009 visit by the Somerville delegation, the CPE participants were generously treated to wonderful Moroccan hospitality by our Tiznit hosts.

  

CPE Participant Karen Krolack and UME staff member Erin Jenkins were dressed in traditional Berber wedding attire at the closing ceremony.

 

UME is also happy to announce that the work initiated by the CPE participants in Tiznit will continue on in Somerville.  On April 28th, a delegation of 19 Tiznit educators, health care professionals, artists, social workers, non-profit professionals, city planners, and government officials will arrive in Somerville to begin the second phase of this program.

We will keep you updated about these exciting events and hope that if you live in the Boston area, you can join us for the Cross Cultural community celebration on Monday, May 2 at the Brickbottom Artists Studios and meet both our Moroccan and American CPE participants in person. 

Many thanks to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the City of Somerville, the City of Tiznit, the Regional Council of Souss Massa Daraa and theMoroccan American Cultural Center for their sponsorships. 
 
Special thanks to the Association of Moroccan Alumni under the leadership of President Ahmed Atlagh for their invaluable assistance in the implementation of this workshop.  

 

Community Based Partnership for Employment

We are proud to announce the Community Based Partnership for Employment (CPE), a dual exchange program to be implemented in Tiznit, Morocco and Somerville, MA.  The CPE is the second phase of the Somerville - Tiznit Sister Cities Partnership established by UME in 2009 and with 45  participants traveling between the two cities within two weeks, one of our most ambitious programs to date. UME hopes that the close proximity of these two programs will result in the intensive environment needed to bond the citizens of these two cities together in a special and lasting cross cultural and professional relationship that will endure long into the future. 


Program Description: 


In mid-April 2011, 45 citizens from the cities of Somerville, MA and Tiznit, Morocco, including educators, healthcare professionals, artists, social workers, non-profit professionals, city planners, and government officials, will travel to each other’s cities. Through this exchange, the University of the Middle East Project (UME) hopes to promote youth development and employment in the 21st century through a multi-tiered approach that emphasizes cross-cultural and cross-sector collaboration. The CPE will take place on the following dates and locations:


Part One: Somerville travels to Tiznit
Dates: April 15 - April 22, 2011
Location: Tiznit, Morocco
Somerville Participants: 12 educators + 8 professionals from various fields including MA State Representative, Denise Provost of the 27th  Middlesex District


Part Two: Tiznit travels to Somerville
Dates: April 28 - May 4, 2011
Location: Somerville, MA
Tiznit Participants: 10 educators + 15 professionals from various fields including President of the Tiznit City Council, Abdellatif Ouammou


During the first phase of the CPE, approximately 20 Somerville residents and employees will travel to Tiznit, Morocco to meet and collaborate with their professional counterparts.  Massachusetts State Representative Denise Provost, of the 27th Middlesex District, will also attend this program to further facilitate the official governmental links with the appropriate officials of Tiznit.


American and Moroccan participants will offer professional development sessions in order to teach and learn from colleagues, as well as benefit teachers and ultimately their youth with knowledge about 21st century employment skills. This “Professional Symposium” will be facilitated by UME faculty and will be followed by academic and networking sessions, as well as site visits to help participants explore the assets and limitations of both communities while solidifying partnership formation. This Tiznit phase of the CPE will conclude with a “youth day” that will include over 50 secondary school students who will benefit directly from the CPE participants.  Prior to the start of the program, all participants will engage in online dialogue via a UME-facilitated online group.


The second phase of the CPE will begin one week after the conclusion of the Tiznit program.  From April 28- May 4, approximately 25 Tiznitis will travel to Somerville and continue to build upon the gains of these workshops.  The Moroccan participants will continue to work with their Somerville partners and will also have the opportunity to undergo a parallel experience of working sessions, site visits, and cultural events with their Somerville counterparts.  Tiznit participants will also have the opportunity to visit Someville Open Studios, New England’s largest art show that typically includes 350 artists and attracts thousands of people during April 30-May 1, 2011. 


 


 

UME Civic Engagement Workshop in Egypt

The Civic Engagement Workshop (CEW) is a one-week, cultural, professional, and intellectual exchange opportunity between high school teachers from the United States and Middle East. This program will take place in Cairo, Egypt.
 
The CEW provides a forum for exchange among teachers who believe that active youth participation and cross-cultural collaboration, both locally and globally, are essential to student learning and the development of 21st century skills. Through this workshop, participants will enhance their skills and learn methodologies for incorporating these concepts into curricula and/or civic engagement activities for students. At the outcome of the program, CEW participants will have built new partnerships with teachers from the US and Egypt and begun developing ways to actively address these critical issues in their schools and communities.
 
UME will provide participants with opportunities for continued learning and application of skills following the March workshop.  Prior to the March workshop, participants will be asked to read particular academic papers reviewing relevant literature/research, as selected by CEW faculty, as part of their preparation.  They will also be asked to engage in an online dialogue with fellow participants from the Middle East and US.

UME Fall Update

 

Dear UME community,

UME has exciting news! For the tenth time in the last eleven years, the U.S. Department of State Office of Citizen Exchanges has awarded UME a substantial grant that will make possible the 2011 Teacher Education Institute (TEI), as well as a series of programs throughout the MENA region.  UME is grateful to the State Department for it's continuing confidence in the quality and impact of UME's programs and alumni.

Last year's TEI Participants

 

UME is especially enthusiastic about the 2011 TEI because for the first time, UME will organize an academic and cultural visit to Washington, DC, most likely in partnership with American University's School of International Service. As in previous years, approximately 30 high school teachers from the MENA region will come to Boston for a transformative professional and personal development experience, followed by a one week trip to DC.  As always, this program will take place during the month of July.

In the next few weeks, UME will be sending out its application form to secondary schools and youth-centered organizations across the Middle East and North Africa. Please spread the word about the TEI so that we can continue to offer this opportunity to the most exceptional educational leaders in the region.

In Other News:

In August, Ray and Galia represented UME at the UN headquarters in New York City at the UNRWA Forum "Seizing the Opportunity: Ensuring Better Education for Palestinian Refugee Youth".  UME joined 26 other NGOs such as Al Jazeera Children's Channel, AMIDEAST, Cisco Systems, and Bard College to pool their resources toward better preparing UNRWA youth for the 21st century's globalized economy. The group recently convened for a second time to create working committees to follow up on the goals established during the August meeting. UME's committee is tasked with developing strategies to improve the quality of teacher education in UNRWA schools.

UME worked with Empower Peace, a local Boston non-profit that provides cultural exchange programs for youth. This summer, UME was asked to develop the facilitation and mentorship skills of the adult educators and coaches accompanying the youth at the Women 2 Women Conference held at Lesley University. UME staff helped build a more collaborative dynamic among the practitioners and instructed them in the best practices to assist young leaders in their community service projects.

Congratulations to Galia Shokry, UME Program Director, for completing a 40 hour training in mediation given by Mediation Works, Inc.  As part of her ongoing training, she is volunteering in Massachusetts district and municipal courts to assist people involved in disputes to come to resolutions in which they determine the terms of agreement, rather than the court deciding for them.

UME is looking forward to the upcoming publication of longtime UME faculty member and American University professor Anthony Wanis St. John's latest book: Back Channel Negotiation. Please click on this link for a description of Anthony's new book. We can't wait to get our hands on a copy!  

Saving the best for last... We are proud to boast of UME alumni's latest and greatest activities.

TEI 2007 alumnus Omar Habbaz of Tiznit, Morocco, visited Somerville, MA to make good on the new sister cities relationship between the two municipalities and their citizens. During a two-day visit, Omar was warmly received by the Somerville community and toured the Somerville schools and local historic sites.

 

The students of Layla Ben Said, TEI 2004 alumna, presented their work on civic engagement and community service at the American Embassy in Tunis.  Layla added this component to her curriculum following UME's 2008 Collaborative Art Initiative. She also presented their work to other educators at UME's Civic Engagement Symposium in Cairo, Egypt earlier this year.

To view more information about Layla's presentation, visit the website of the US Embassy in Tunis.

Congratulations to the Association of Moroccan Alumni (AMA) for the successful implementation of the Souss Youth Anmoggar. AMA members from the Agadir-Tiznit area brought together students of Amideast's Access program and other community members to celebrate the spirit of Moroccan - American friendship. Many thanks to Ahmed Atlagh (TEI 2005 alumnus) for making this possible under his leadership.

Successful impelementation of the Civic Engagement Workshop in Cairo, Egypt