Fellowship at Ventureprise, Charlotte, NC

written by Rabia Tas from Turkey

I’ve been working at a technology transfer office and wanted my professional fellowship to be in the fields of technology transfer, entrepreneurship, research, and innovation. Therefore; my placement to Ventureprise which is the entrepreneurship and innovation center at the University of North Carolina Charlotte is a really good match. I’ve been participating in various events and meetings since I started my fellowship.

I’ve been a part of different activities such as learning about the programs of Ventureprise, having meetings with UNC Charlotte offices like Office of Technology Transfer and Proposal Development Office, joining workshops and seminars on business model canvas and career building. Some of the things that I’ve seen are quite similar to the models we use at my own institution, but there are some models or tools that we don’t use frequently. Therefore; seeing them here and making observations give me the inspiration to start new programs or practices once I return home.

Ventureprise provides me a good networking opportunity both in UNC Charlotte and in Charlotte city in terms of my areas of interest. But there was such a nice coincidence here at Ventureprise that it helped me not only to make new acquaintances from Charlotte but also to 7 different entrepreneurs from different European countries. Ventureprise was hosting European entrepreneurs for U.S. Department of State’s 2018 Young Transatlantic Innovative Leaders Initiative and I had a chance to meet the 7 participants of that program here in Charlotte. They were all founders of startups from the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Ukraine, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom. I joined in some events together with them and even participated in their pitching event. This global networking was a good surprise and opportunity for me. Because I talked to them and learn about technology development and innovation ecosystems in their countries as well as sharing my knowledge on Turkish innovation ecosystem. I helped one of the entrepreneur to contact with a potential partner in Turkey and created a draft Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership proposal about entrepreneurship with another.

I’ve come here to cooperate and collaborate with US institutions and entrepreneurial ecosystem and ended up with developing a global network with fellows from Eurasia Professional Fellowship Program, from Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and from Young Transatlantic Innovative Leaders Initiative. This opportunity will be among the most memorable experiences of my fellowship.

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Everyday Conservationist

written by Koranis Tanangsnakool (Gig) from Thailand

To be honest, it has been a while since last time I got up early to catch sunrise on the weekend. Somehow I feel an extra sleep on the weekend could potentially help alleviate tiredness from working days, and just recently the research has suggested that sleeping on weekend could compensate lost of sleep during weekday. With a strong determination, I got up early to join my host family for their morning activity which is walking up the hill picking up garbage.

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Their daughter, Christina, started it 10 years ago. She went out every morning with a strong passion of ‘do-what-she-can’ and make it at least one less trash to keep the neighborhood clean. She has moved to the mainland years ago, the retiree couple decided to continue her mission and what makes this activity interesting is that the neighborhood they are trying to keep clean is the forest. Their house is located at the edge of reserved area, a 5-minute walk will lead you to Mount Tantalus part of Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve, one of seventeen forest reserves on Oahu Island.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, is authorized and responsible for land management for multi-use that incorporate a variety of public uses and benefits. Though each reserve requires individual management scheme for its unique natural resources, the same philosophy is applied for the entire forest reserve. This includes the conservation of biological integrity of native ecosystems, watersheds protection to secure fresh water supply for public uses today and in the future, provision of recreational opportunities, and economic empowerment through high quality forest product and sustainable forest industry.

Interestingly, stuffs thrown out on the edge of Mount Tantalus range from common trash like bottle lids, cigarette, plastic package to bed mattress, umbrella, drugs package and MONEY. Nice weather with fresh air, cool breeze from the pacific and morning light make this community service a very enjoyable activity. Besides seeing scenic view of Honolulu downtown and Diamond head is a marvelous feeling of getting close to the nature.

A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia
No task is too big when done together by all.

Celebration of Diversity

written by Nataliia Zaitseva from Ukraineoak

From the very first orientation meeting in DC I understood how different all the fellows are. 68 totally different fellows from different countries came to the US to learn about best practices of governance, business and education. Ethnic diversity is one of the main aspects which differs the US from my native country Ukraine.

Every year US Government gives around 50,000 green cards for immigrants who decided to live and work in the US.

I was happy to see the unique ceremony in Macomb County, Mount Clemens, MI on November 2, where I was a fellow at the Macomb County Executive`s Office. It is called the naturalization ceremony.

The naturalization ceremony created to recognize the rights, responsibilities, and importance of citizenship and provide access to services for new citizens. It is the culmination of the naturalization process.

Each year a group of people from the Macomb community become naturalized and get their American citizenship. Macomb County executives try to make administrative naturalization ceremonies positive and memorable moments in the lives of the citizens.

The first naturalization ceremony in Macomb County was held in 2014 and now is annual. Most of naturalized citizens came from Middle Eastern Countries.

This year 24 individuals from 16 different countries including: Albania, Bangladesh, China, Croatia, Germany, India, Iraq, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia and Yemen become naturalized. During ceremony immigrants become U.S. citizens by taking the Oath of Allegiance. For some of them the whole process lasted for 6 years.

Pam Lavers, Deputy County Executive, started with remarks and mentioned that Macomb County is a multicultural community and new citizens are highly welcomed to participate in the community life.

County Executive Mark A. Hackel in his remarks highlighted that diversity of Macomb County is incredible and it is very important for county authorities to enlarge the population, so Macomb is open for all!

After remarks, a keynote speaker, Inge Zomboreanu Boettcher, a Macomb County Community Mental Health employee that shared her own citizenship story. She went from Romania in 1990 and was naturalized in 1996. She pointed that they didn’t have such ceremony and it is a great idea to host the ceremony in Macomb county.

Following Inge’s story, the ceremony proceeded to the Oath of Allegiance led by the Honorable Judge George Caram Steeh from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Multicultural diversity is an integral part of American life. Participating in the naturalization ceremony was a unique experience which I never seen before.

My Impression of a Variety of Americans

written by Potjaporn Joonlaoun (Garn) from Thailand

TH Garn at Cook County Bureau of Economic DevelopmentIt has been a couple weeks since I arrived in America. I have met a lot of people and had many stories sharing including cultures foods languages and tourism attractions. Since the program has allowed me to live with an American family and to work with American professionals, I am always afraid of embarrassing myself in front of them from my English with Thai accent and from any possible cultural awkwardness. Therefore, everywhere I go I always begin my conversation with the same statement that ‘As English is not my first language and there will be a lot of culture differences between here and my country, please bear with me and I will try to adjust myself as best as I can.’

Surprisingly, my sincere self-defense incredibly brings further interesting conversations regarding people’s roots. My gold hearted host mother, Rose, who is addicted in Korean soapies and loves Kimchi noodles, is originally from Kenya. A smart IT man in my worksite who has a lot of good Thai friends and knows about the employment situation in Thailand very well is originally from Greece. Further to that, the warm feeling of connection with my supervisor, Mohammad Elahi, could be the reason that we both have Asian culture background as he is originally from Bangladesh. Mohammad who is knowledgeable, experienced but humble has been publicly respected for his leadership

TH Garn with Host Mom

skills and for his passion to develop Cook County.

To be honest, I have been surprised in the variety of Americans but in the same time I am so impressed in the contributions they have made to the country as citizens of America. Regardless of birthplace, here in America people appreciate in and give value to what you do more than where you were born. Additionally, instead of creating conflicts, this variety expands the understanding of cultural sensitivity and promotes harmonization.

A Valuable Reason to Travel: Furthering PFP Linkages

written by Kevin Moore from the United States

I’m a big believer in efficiency, and an even bigger believer in the Professional Fellows Program. Immediately following the productive and eye-opening experience of participating in Turkish PFP Fellow Asli Gemci’s outbound project on public participation in policymaking in Istanbul (as well as reconnecting with PFP alums Özge Sonmez and Ece Karakus while there), I embarked on personal travel to Tbilisi and Chisinau in follow-up with previous Fellows who I’ve had the pleasure of hosting.

Tamari Gvasso continues her work on criminal justice reform in Georgia. It was fascinating to learn more about her capacity at an NGO that advises policymakers. In addition, Tamari and I enjoyed catching up with Teona Surmava, another Oregon PFP alum who is a leading force for law enforcement modernization in her home country. Business aside, Tamari and Teona introduced me to culture, sights and cuisine of Georgia during my 5-day visit.

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In Moldova, Mariana Buruiana now works for the civil society organization, East Europe Foundation. I really enjoyed learning about her work on youth empowerment. This was actually my fourth visit to Moldova, the first being for implementation of Mariana’s 2013 outbound project. Business aside, Mariana hosted me for a wonderful traditional barbecue at her home outside of Chisinau, then together with her husband and cousin, we road-tripped to Romania from where I ultimately flew home via Bucharest.

Having been home less than a week, I’m still processing this amazing journey that included meaningful engagements with six PFP alums, past and present. The Professional Fellows Program and American Councils truly facilitates cross-jurisdictional learning and understanding. I look forward to continued partnership.

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Civil Society in Turkey: Tact and Collaboration

written by Kevin Moore from the United States

It was a whirlwind second week of Asli Gemci’s and my outbound project in Istanbul. Asli arranged meetings for me with seasoned members of Turkey’s civil society to discuss effective strategies for engaging policymakers. I was fascinated to learn about unique approaches taken by NGOs here, and also to offer some best-practices from Oregon. My biggest takeaway was that following June 24 elections, the landscape for civic engagement in Turkey is in transformation as the government takes on a new structure with a strong, American-style presidency. These meetings with civil society prepared me for our culminating event: a two-day conference on public participation in decision-making organized by Asli as part of our outbound project.

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Thursday and Friday saw our more than 75 participating professionals from regional civil society and government — Turkey, the Western Balkans, the Caucuses and the U.K. — gather to hear from experts and share ideas about citizen inclusion: its current status and ideas for advancing civil society’s role in the process. I was invited to present about Orgon’s model and to lead a group session to discuss mechanisms for effective engagement. I was impressed by the number and quality of questions asked and the passion of everyone in attendance. When the conference concluded on Friday, I had developed numerous relationships for continuing collaboration.

In addition to our meeting schedule, Asli furthered my cultural experience: We took a ferry to the Prince’s Islands off Istanbul’s coast, visiting ancient monasteries and enjoying mezza. I’ve loved exploring Istanbul’s Old City, becoming a regular at a small breakfast cafe and local barber. Even at the conference, Asli arranged a traditional meal and classical Turkish live music for our joint working dinner.

As if all that wasn’t enough, it’s also been great for me to connect with PFP alums Özge Sonmez and Ece Karakus in Istanbul. Özge, who works for an NGO assisting Syrian refugees in Turkey, treated me to a wonderful meal and updated me on her organization’s work. Ece, who works in the national parliament, invited me to a traditional Turkish wedding overlooking the Bosphorus. Along with so many experiences here — both professional and personal — it’s something I won’t soon forget!

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Four days, four meetings, two cities, a presentation and lots of culture: Recipe for a successful start to an Outbound Project in Turkey!

written by Kevin Moore, Chief of Staff, Senator Floyd Prozanski, Oregon Senate

It’s my genuine pleasure to participate in Asli Gemci’s outbound project on pubic engagement in policy-making with a focus on environmental impact assessments. After a wonderful welcome dinner in Istanbul’s Old City and good rest Monday night, we hit the ground running on Tuesday. Asli familiarized me with her office and colleagues at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). She also delivered a presentation on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how WWF’s work aligns with those goals, providing fantastic context for our collaboration. I then had the pleasure of joining Asli and WWF’s Turkey director for lunch, where we discussed, among other topics, how innovative programs from Oregon may benefit Turkey’s efforts toward zero-waste and recycling. Monday ended with a ferry ride across the Bosphorus.

The next day, Asli and I traveled to Ankara, the country’s capitol, for meetings at the Grand National Assembly (GNA) and the U.S. Embassy. As a longtime legislative chief of staff, it was fascinating for me to converse with a counterpart in Turkey’s parliament, sharing our assemblies’ public participation processes, citizen engagement practices, and our personal experiences. After a private tour of the GNA (pictured), a portion of which remains damaged after the 2016 coup attempt, Asli and I hustled over to the U.S. Embassy for a meeting with Saad Bokhari, Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer, and his colleague, Ayşegül Taşkın for a robust conversation about our experiences with the PFP program and strengthening civil society in Turkey.

Wednesday ended and Thursday started with wonderful meals and the company of Asli’s parents. They were gracious enough to welcome me into their home and to extend invitations for future visits; I now feel like I have family in Turkey! Following breakfast, Asli and I enjoyed a productive, hour-long meeting at the Ministry of Environment & Urbanization. We compared in-depth our jurisdictions’ environmental impact assessment (EIA) models and shared ideas for enhancement and future discussion. I was particularly impressed by the online application and review process that the ministry uses for EIAs. Our meeting was so engaging, we forgot to snap a group photo!

Our time in Ankara also included visits to the Anıtkabir, a sprawling and impressive mausoleum-museum for Atatürk, and to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. We concluded the visit at a cafe atop an ancient citadel, watching a thunderstorm pass over the city. Our meetings have been highly productive; the culture, food and authentic experiences that Asli has introduced me to — equally fulfilling. I am incredibly grateful to her and to American Councils for facilitating this project, and I can’t wait for the nine days ahead!

kevin moore outbound