Sunday, August 30, 2015

MPP Zhou interns at AFS International (NYC)

With the help of Stassen scholarship,guidance from my faculty adviser Sherry Gray and recommendation of former Humphrey global policy chair--J. Brian Atwood, I am able to finish my summer internship in AFS Intercultural Programs Headquarter-- AFS International(AFS INT) in New York City. I worked as full-time intern in the Department of Program Development and Risk Management for 440 hours in total. 

While in New York City, I mainly worked on six programs, assisted in two programs and finished two memos. AFS, as one of the UNESCOs consultative NGOs, is an international organization which provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. In order to fulfill AFS 2020 vision and take on the expectation of wider global intercultural learning experience from UNESCO, I am able to provide some policy recommendations(two recommendation memos about programs development in China) for AFS INT to expand AFS programs capacity in China and deal with stakeholder relations with government. Furthermore, I also worked on the risk management field, which includes completing PRIA(Partners Risk Internal Assessment) reports for 10 member states, record retention summary for all member states, World Cafe government regulation outlines recommendations and statistic analysis for medical claims.

In addition, I undertook the assignment of translating some English intercultural learning materials into Chinese for Department of Intercultural Learning. Also, I assisted in reconciliation projects and videos selection for AFS-UNAOC cooperation program.

As the intern in the nuclear department of AFS INT, my internship provides me with a more profound insight of practical application of global policy, deepening my understanding of importance of intercultural learning to create a more just and peaceful world. My logical and critical thinking abilities to work for an international organization are also enhanced. 

HHH Gray on Iran--"US needs a secure Iran"

Reprinted from MinnPost

Iran needs security; the U.S. needs a secure Iran

REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader 
Understanding the aspirations of Iran and its people as well as the security dilemmas it faces is crucial to understanding that decisions being made today will shape whether Iran and the region can embrace peace and growth, or war and destruction. 
The Obama administration is hawking a nuclear agreement with Iran, an agreement long in the making, long on details, and long overdue. Iran may be a nuclear threat, but one surrounded by more powerful nuclear powers — any first use or limited use would pour down devastation on Iran. Iran may be a proliferation threat, but selling parts and expertise is attractive only to money-hungry countries with few enemies — assisting any of its regional neighbors in acquiring nuclear capability could prove risky to Iran’s own security.
Sherry Gray
Israel for Iran is a symbol of European/U.S. power games in the region, but Iran has more serious security threats. Shi’ites are far safer living in the West than in South Asia; it is nuclear Pakistan where sectarian violence has led to Shi’ite deaths. It is the threats of its own region, led by powerful Saudi or nuclear Russian or anti-Shi’ite competitors/enemies, that keeps Iranian security analysts awake at night, not Israel.

Better relationship means safer neighborhood

Take a look at the map of the region and see how surrounded Iran is? Where are its friends in the region? A better relationship with Europe and the U.S. means a safer neighborhood for Iran.
A successful nuclear agreement could open the door to better relations between the U.S. and Iran, or at least the possibility of more cooperation on regional matters, vital to U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions. It also opens the door to a better future — more stable, secure and prosperous — for Iran and its people.
Iran is on the move, a large country with a population of more than 74 million, that, while not religiously diverse, has a surprisingly heterogeneous population; ethnic Persians make up only 51 percent of a citizenry that includes Azeris, Kurds, Afghans, Turks and Arabs. Iran occupies a central place in the region, sharing land borders with seven countries of interest to the U.S. — including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey — and sea borders with the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. It is enmeshed in a region important for oil production and shipping, as well as wars and conflicts, making the direction it goes politically and economically critical to peace and stability in the region.

Great progress in development

Since the upheaval of the late 1970s and a long, crippling war with Iraq, Iran has made great progress in development, ranked by the World Bank as an “upper middle income” country and by the UNDP as a “high human development” country on the Human Development Index. Goldman Sachs lists Iran as one of the “Next Eleven” countries, a group the National Intelligence Council predicts that, following and together with powerhouse developing countries China and India, “will begin to surpass Europe, Japan and Russia in terms of global power by 2030.”
Understanding the aspirations of Iran and its people as well as the security dilemmas it faces is crucial to understanding that decisions being made today will shape whether Iran and the region can embrace peace and growth, or war and destruction.
Iran the nation-state may aspire to expanding its regional power, but the Iranian people have made clear their interest in a country that is respected internationally and holds increased economic opportunities for its citizens. According to the World Bank, Iran is the second largest economy in the region (Middle East/North Africa) but “unemployment remains elevated and is expected to be a central challenge” as increasing numbers of women and young people enter the labor market.

A work force with high expectations

Iran’s success in improving literacy and education rates in recent decades, perhaps second only to South Korea, means a work force that has high expectations; already the World Bank estimates that 150,000 college-educated Iranians leave every year to find better opportunities. National Public Radio estimated in 2006 that there were half a million Iranians in Southern California, and sizable populations of Iranians can be found around the U.S. and Europe. Daily international flights to and from Tehran are filled with middle-class Iranians going between family members in Europe or the U.S. and Iran.
Iran has a great deal of internal reform necessary to creating the kind of open and vibrant society necessary for the growth of creativity and innovation necessary to a contemporary economy, and a better relationship with Europe and the U.S. are an important step in that process.
Security for Iran needs to be understood in light of its unique location and long history of wars with neighbors. Iran has been occupied many times by foreign powers and for the past four decades involved in a series of cold wars: With the USSR and then Russia, the U.S., Europe, and Saudi Arabia. It is surrounded by nuclear countries (Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel), encircled by U.S. military bases, on the border of two wars involving heavy U.S. forces, and embattled by anti-Iran and anti- Shi’ite neighbors. Iran has not been passive, either, once promoting a radical religious revolution and in recent decades taking sides in regional disputes that have created new security dilemmas and alienated the U.S. and its allies in the region.

Build upon mutual interests

It is time for the U.S. and Europe to recognize Iran’s legitimate security concerns and work to create reassurance measures that help dampen their fears and promote strategic engagement on issues of mutual interest. It is no secret that the U.S. and Iran have cooperated remarkably well, albeit through convoluted lines of communication, on a range of issues involving U.S. and Iranian activities in both Afghanistan and Iraq and these areas of mutual interest can be built upon for a stronger, strategic relationship.
In 2001, a commission headed by Lee Hamilton, James Schlesinger and Brent Scowcroft for the Atlantic Council argued that “U.S. policy makers should focus on rebuilding diplomatic and political relationships with Iran to a point at which the serious disagreements can be addressed.”
It is long overdue for the United States to focus on how engaging Iran will benefit U.S. interests in a peaceful and stable Middle East.
Sherry Gray directs international projects at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. From 1998 to 2003 she coordinated a U.S.-Iran foreign policy dialogue program for the Stanley Foundation, making four visits to Tehran.

Former Humphrey Fulbright Fellow Chin Idirisu Medorni visiting HHH this week

Chin Idirisu Medorni was Hubert H. Humphrey International Fulbright Fellow at the Humphrey School 2010-2011.  He is currently Executive Director of the Cameroon Education Foundation in Kumbo-Cameroon.   Chin will meet current Humphrey School International Fellows and visit friends in the Twin Cities.

Project Pengyou Leadership Fellows Program

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Apply now for the 2015 Fall Project Pengyou Leadership Fellows Program!

Are you an American that has lived or studied in China and are back in the United States after an unforgettable experience abroad?

Project Pengyou is recruiting passionate young Americans with first-hand China experience to join our nationwide Leadership Network and lead the establishment of a Project Pengyou chapter on their campus. Leadership Fellows will receive an exclusive invitation to participate in a four-day Leadership Training Summit at UC Berkeley on October 10-13, 2015. This is your chance to receive transformative leadership training and join a growing movement of US-China bridge-builders across the nation.


  • EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to attend a four-day Leadership Training Summit at UC Berkeley from October 10 – October 13, 2015*
  • GAIN strategic skills in cross-cultural leadership and community-organizing methods to mobilize people and resources as part of a national grassroots campaign
  • CONNECT with other motivated Americans with China experience from across the U.S., and be a part of our exclusive national Leadership Fellows network.
  • VIP ACCESS to special high-level US-China events and opportunities to meet government, business and civic leaders deeply experienced in US-China cooperation; make valuable connections for personal growth and professional development
  • LEAD a Project Pengyou Chapter at your university or institution, and be a pioneer of China exchange, knowledge and action in your community

* All participants are responsible for their own airfare and travel. Lodging, food, speaker and summit costs will be covered by Golden Bridges Foundation / Project Pengyou. Limited scholarships will be available based on donations.


  • American citizens or legal residents who have studied or lived abroad in China and are available to participate in the Leadership Training Summit at the University of California, Berkeley from October 10-13th, 2015.
  • Highly committed individuals with enthusiasm for Project Pengyou’s mission to promote constructive China exchange
  • Current students of a university, community college or high school (graduate students also eligible) who will be in the United States for at least one academic year
  • Candidates should be able to demonstrate high potential for leadership, public speaking, and event coordination responsibilities


APPLICATION DEADLINE: September 1, 2015 6:00 PM EST
* Applicants should be a member of a China alumni group on and have completed over 80% of their online profile, including a profile photo.

Questions? See our FAQ!
- Meet previous Leadership Fellows -
Project Pengyou is a global community of U.S.-China bridge-builders, led by young Americans with firsthand China experience. In 2014, we began to mobilize a grassroots network of campus chapters and facilitated over 100 events across the United States promoting friendly exchanges with China. Our efforts are completely driven by private philanthropic funds. 

Support us by making a donation online or contact us for special sponsorship opportunities.

Project Pengyou is a flagship program of The Golden Bridges Foundation
Established in 2007, Golden Bridges is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with a mission to build bridges to China that strengthen the sustainability and capacity of community-based nonprofits and individuals to serve, inspire and transform lives.

Project Pengyou would not be possible without the generosity of our seed sponsors:

Copyright © 2015 Project Pengyou, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a Pengyou!

Our mailing address is:
Project Pengyou
No.65 Xiaojingchang Hutong, Guloudong Ave, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100009
Beijing, 01  100009

Sent by MPP alum Peter Ehresmann

This material was cross-posted and may be an interesting opportunity for members of the UMN community.

WIIS new Jobs Hotline (membership req)

Check out the new Jobs Hotline!

Please note, the WIIS website was recently updated to provide a membership portal where members can now create forums, access and comment on blogs, easily view and connect with other members, and better utilize the benefits of a WIIS membership. To protect confidential information, members will be asked to reset their passwords when logging into the new member portal for the first time. The member portal can be accessed by clicking on the Jobs Hotline link below. You will be redirected to the WIIS website where you will need to sign in on the right-hand side of your screen. Additionally, we kindly ask that members update their profiles when logging into the new portal to improve member visibility and strengthen services provided through the WIIS network.

If you have trouble resetting your password, please contact WIIS Global at

New UMN study program in Panama

Thursday, August 27, 2015

HHH Prof. Assaad in Pacific Standard: "The Transformation of Work at the Heart of Middle East Unrest"

The Future of Work: The Transformation of Work at the Heart of Middle East Unrest
The latest entry in a special project in which business and labor leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, and journalists weigh in on the most consequential changes in the workplace.

He is a 28-year-old Egyptian with a degree in sociology. He graduated six years ago and has since had three jobs as a waiter in various Cairo coffee shops and restaurants. He wants to marry but can’t convince his sweetheart’s parents he is ready, given his employment situation. He lives with his parents, both government employees who will soon retire with government pensions. He, on the other hand, can only dream of a job that would guarantee him a pension.
Ragui Assaad is a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Millions of educated youth like this find themselves shut out of the middle class because of an inability to convert their education into the kind of decent job their parents found a generation ago. Even as access to education has expanded dramatically in the region, the quality of employment for educated workers has deteriorated markedly. I’d argue that the gap between what these young people expected for their education and what they have achieved is the main source of the anger and frustration driving the Arab uprisings.

A generation ago, a young person with a college degree was virtually guaranteed a place in the middle class, mostly by means of a public sector job. An Egyptian college graduate entering the labor force in 1980 had a 70-percent chance of landing a job in the public sector. That chance had fallen to 35 percent by 2012. The decline in public sector employment opportunities was only partly made up by the growth of decent jobs in the private sector. Again, in Egypt, a young college graduate in 1980 had a mere 15-percent chance of getting a formal job in the private sector. That chance had gone up to only 25 percent in 2012.

A formal job is one that complies with labor laws and regulations and provides a modicum of social protection. The remaining 40 percent who failed to obtain either public or private formal jobs in 2012 were relegated to the informal economy, with few opportunities to move to a decent job thereafter. The job prospects of high school graduates, who now make up nearly 40 percent of Egyptian youth, have deteriorated even more than those of college graduates over the past 30 years.

reprinted from:
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