The Professional Fellows Program

The Professional Fellows Program

In Africa we say that it takes
a village to raise a child. Coming to the PFP program made me realize that it takes a group of crazy people from all over the world to implement their ideas and to learn from each other for us to have
that global change that we all seek for. I did my Professional Fellows Exchange at the University of Massachusetts, Boston at the Institute of Community Inclusion. The fellowship experience was visiting
organizations that work in disability rights learning from professionals and
teachers who work with disabilities. So it was an experience that was unlike any other. I am Quan Nguyen from Lam Dong, Vietnam. I am doing an initiative named Coffee Warrior, so we are helping the local coffee farmers in Vietnam. We try to equip them with better mindsets and better practices more sustainable,
and ethical ways in farming. I’m Steve Coleman and I’m the director of
Washington Parks and People. Washington Parks and People is a city-wide alliance. Basically, the idea is to use parks
as a base for community health. All the ways people and government can work
together to use green spaces to breathe life into our neighborhoods. Participation in the ProFellows program
helped me see the diversity of people in the United State as well as in the whole world. The PFP congress was absolutely amazing
because I met people from sixty different countries, and I got to see challenges that are facing the social innovation and justice systems in Kenya, in Indonesia, in Vietnam, in Egypt. And I got to meet different young leaders who
are doing their part to change this and I was deeply inspired. I came up with the Coffee Warriors thanks to the
experience that I had from Professional Fellows Program, and this program has allowed me to connect
with my friends all across Asia and because Coffee Warrior is about exchanging coffee experiences and coffee practices so we need to have a real connection and Professional Fellows Program has
allowed me to have those networks. Over the years, Parks and People has hosted four ProFellows from Egypt and Morocco and we’ve
interacted with Fellows from many other countries. It’s a way for us to connect with
rising leaders around the world, to learn from them and for them to learn, embedded with us, from the things that we’re doing on the ground that parallel many of the kinds of challenges,
ideas, and experiences that people have in other countries everywhere. Professional Fellows Program has allowed me to connect with people world wide, but also has brought me three
amazing and beautiful families. The host family in Seattle, the work place Seattle University, and the network of incredible
fellows from around the world and they are full of love, full of support,
and full of information. The best part of the Professional Fellows Experience for me was interacting with different Fellows Fellows from different countries in the PFP program. It was such an energized, electric experience that I will forever remember. I went over to Cairo to share our experience with community and with partnerships the kinds of things that we do on the ground. I figured, well I’m an expert, I’ve got a lot to offer there. I got to Cairo and I was blown away by how much I had to learn. I was blown away
by the depth of community there. It was people doing the same kind
of work that we’re trying to do, and showing me how universal both the challenges and the ideas and the
possibilities are of the kind of work that we’re trying to do.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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