State Department – US-Syria Citizen Exchange Program
The US-Syria project was designed to foster an open and mutually beneficial dialogue between Syrians and their peers in the United States. By providing specially tailored educational programs that present different points of view on a variety on issues faced by society, and by offering fist-hand experience for Americans and Syrians in each other’s countries, the project aimed to cultivate mutual respect, while promoting pluralism, acceptance and understanding. By maintaining contact with and among participants using available information technology, the project helped create a group of project-alumni who sought integrate their experiences and learning into their respective local community activities and equip all involved with an international outreach perspective.
US-Syria Citizen Exchange was a one-year multi-phased exchange project between current and potential young and up-and-coming leaders in the United States and Syria. The project was aimed specifically at young leaders who are active in the fields of Media, Technology, Arts and the Environment and whom integrate concepts of just and equitable action in their practice as community leaders. The project sought to do the following:
- Organize specially designed travel seminars that expose participants to the specific subject area structures of practice as discussed above. This exposure included meetings between well-established and up-and-coming leaders in these specific practice areas.
- Provide the indispensable intellectual and cultural resources to build and sustain a continuous, peaceful and open dialogue between the United States and Syria through exposure to each other’s concerns.
- Promote mutually beneficial ties between current and potential American and Syrian young up-and-coming leaders by enhancing inter-group relations among participants.
- Explore and encourage bilateral initiatives of cooperation aimed at consolidating a peace-oriented culture on internal, regional and international levels.
By working with the universities to develop conflict resolution curriculum, this project aims to help the next generation of leaders in Syria and the United States to reflect on their current approaches to addressing violent conflict, further develop their capacities to search for more effective ways of transforming conflict in their own societies, and develop skills for preventing occurrence of violence.
The project aimed to create a new curriculum on conflict resolution at Damascus University and to integrate teaching about Syria in CICR’s graduate-level courses in conflict resolution. Through this project, CICR will continue to strengthen its relationship with Damascus University and provide opportunities for substantive exchange between Syrians and Americans. By undertaking a process of joint conflict resolution curriculum development, the faculty who are directly involved in both countries, as well as their colleagues and students, will gain a better understanding of each other.