By Noreen Shams
Last month our Humphrey cohort took an early flight to Washington D.C. to attend Global Leadership Forum (GLF) 2019.
Everybody was excited to visit Washington D.C. for sure, I was quite happy as I visited D.C. in 2012 as an International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) fellow in the same month of October and now I was visiting D.C. again as a Humphrey Fellow. As soon as we reached D.C., pleasant weather welcomed us. Trees with their fall-colored leaves waved in air as if giving us a warm welcome to D.C.
It’s wasn’t just us, the entire world converged in Washington D.C. that week to attend the GLF. Humphrey Fellows from all 13 host campuses participated in the Forum, organized by the U.S. State Department Programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Institute of International Education IIE.
It was a five-day event that provided an opportunity for the 151 Humphrey Fellows from 95 countries to participate in activities that could enhance our leadership skills; develop our understanding of social, cultural, political processes and networks in U.S. capital.
The conference had a very busy agenda of talks and meetings, including some with top-ranking U.S. government officials to share with us one mission, one vision for our common global challenges.
It was an amazing experience to meet the people from different countries whose names I did not know. However, during our time in D.C. we were all together discussing and sharing our goals for our countries and laughing at our misconceptions about other countries.
It was also interesting to network with U.S. professionals and D.C.-based policy experts as well as hearing inspiring stories from successful Humphrey alumni. I was also very impressed with how IIE Humphrey Program team members and representatives from the U.S. Department of State managed the tremendously long five days in an organized manner with execution of programs and mobility of 151 fellows.
We engaged with distinguished speakers including Professor Arnold Offner, a historian on the life of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, and Dean Laura Bloomberg, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.
We also attended skill-building workshops, but the final day of the forum that took place at the U.S. Department of State, we got a chance to showcase our study regarding World Press Freedom in our countries at a poster fair. Our study findings indicate that there are continued attacks on the freedom of the press throughout the world. The top three countries where the press is not free in the world are Cuba, China and Vietnam. The rest of the countries, Croatia, Egypt, Haiti, Mynamar, Montenegro, Pakistan, Philippines and Uganda have some relative freedom although the situation continues to deteriorate.
Sitting at the Potomac Ballroom of Key Bridge Marriott Hotel, Future Leaders of the World were smiling, hopeful and inspired to take the leadership responsibility for their countries with just one goal in mind: Shared power of the world.