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As part of Harvard Kennedy School's dedication to giving students hands-on experience of public service, the Women and Public Policy Program’s Cultural Bridge Fellowship gives students the opportunity to provide impactful work across the globe. By providing a stipend and contributions to travel costs, WAPPP encourages the students to spend a summer out in the world, making a difference.
The 2010 Cultural Bridge Fellows are in Afghanistan, the Maldives, Turkey, Liberia, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Haiti and India, and they are blogging on their work. A complete list of their blogs and backgrounds can be found on the Cultural Bridge Fellows website.
Below are some sample posts from the fellows.
Afreen Akhter, MPP 2011 — Afghanistan
“Well if they’re saying that we’re not doing anything – perhaps that’s a good thing. Our role, after all, is to prop up the government with as little visibility as possible,” Elizabeth told me on the car ride to Panjob – a remote district of Bamyan. She was half-joking, half-not. She’d worked in conflict zones for a long time, and had developed an almost biting sarcasm for the way foreign forces were perceived by the locals.
The problem, and Elizabeth knew this, was that most people I’d interviewed hadn’t articulated any faith in central, provincial, or district governments. The only kind of governance that elicited positive responses on a continual basis – was local governance.
Afua Entsuah, MPP 2011 — Liberia
Last Wednesday, our office had the privilege of meeting with Her Excellency [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf]. Originally, our meeting was set in order to discuss the future of the Philanthropy Secretariat (the office's 3-year pilot period ends next year). The discussion however quickly turned into the value of philanthropy in Liberia.
I'm not sure what I expected from the President, but a few things surprised me: 1. she came in by herself - not one aide with her 2. she had read our report entirely and was very clear about what she agreed and disagreed with 3. Along the same lines of the first two surprises, she had no notes with her. I was pleasantly surprised at all this, because I know there are many initiatives under the President's office, and she has a lot of engagements inside and outside the country. The President's main message to us was that she wanted to see foundations align their investments more with Liberia's Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). She also wanted to see more harmonization among the various philanthropic initiatives in Liberia, so programs could be scaled up for greater impact.
To find out about more bloggers and their backgrounds, visit the WAPPP Cultural Bridge Fellows website.
Through the generosity of the Nancy Germeshausen Klavans Foundation, as well as the Doscker Family Foundation, the Cultural Bridge Fellowship enables students to couple their academic knowledge with a field experience that advances gender equality across the globe.