May 03, 2011

Hamline announces collaborative, business-focused Middle East fellowship project

Hamline University is pleased to announce it has partnered with 3M, Cargill, The Carlson Group, Wells Fargo, HealthPartners, HIRED, Minnesota Public Radio, Neighborhood Development Center, St. Paul College, and various e-media outlets and cultural institutions to host the Middle East Education to Employment Fellowship Project.

The project, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, educates visiting Fellows from the Middle East in entrepreneurial skills. These sixteen Fellows were recruited for their demonstrated leadership potential, after national searches conducted in their home communities with the support of the local cultural attaché offices of the U.S. Embassy. They are mid-level administrators, community activists, NGO organizers, and individuals with backgrounds in business, economics and the liberal arts from the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.

The project’s goal is to train the Fellows in various business models of entrepreneurship. To do so, Hamline University has teamed up with business partners in Minnesota to instruct the Fellows in formal and informal settings. The business partners will teach and mentor the Fellows by providing them the guidance and training needed to create opportunities for gainful employment, and to impart these skills to others in their own communities.

Hamline, in turn, will contribute the wealth of experience of its business school and the expertise of its civic education faculty.  The Fellows will also participate in workshops on workplace diversity hosted by the U.S. business partners, and visit with organizations that reflect the Twin Cities’ multicultural background. As a result, by project’s end the Fellows will learn how individuals and institutions in the U.S. nurture pluralism, accommodate differences, and promote inclusion of minority groups, in schools, the workplace, and the community at large.

After the intensive training program is complete, the Fellows will return home and start up businesses, leading others to explore economic opportunities and employment. In order to ensure the success of the project, the U.S. business partners’ representatives will visit the Fellows in their communities to assist them in effectively implementing their business plans.

The premise of The Middle East Education to Employment Project is that conflicts and violence are byproducts of a lack of economic opportunity. In the Middle East, inadequate training and high unemployment lead to an explosive situation in which disenfranchised youth are prone to violence within the local communities or along ethnic-religious and national lines.

The project’s overall hope is that through practical training, private enterprise initiatives, and constructive business leadership, job opportunities will grow in the aforementioned communities, political tensions will subside and a more hospitable environment will emerge to accommodate cultural, religious and ethnic differences and nurture pluralism. As a byproduct of these efforts, it is also hoped that participating individuals.