Testimony from the Summer 2015 U.S. Mentors Delegation visiting Europe

Tara Parrish, Springfield, Massachusetts
Pioneer Valley Project
tara

Tara delivering training in Bulgaria

Tara delivering training in Bulgaria

“It was an honor to participate in the WSOS/Great Lakes Consortium exchange. It was a wonderful professional challenge to design and deliver relevant, appropriate and useful trainings in new cultural contexts and to learn more about great complexity of doing community organizing in emerging civil society sectors in Bulgaria and Slovakia. I especially appreciated the opportunities to meet with Roma community leaders to learn about their important organizing work in the face of racial, social and economic discrimination.

I hope that this program continues its important focus on organizing in minority communities and supports the identification of Roma organizers and their professional development. Social change happens when ordinary people shed light on the wounds of injustice and build power focused on a shared vision for justice and transformation.

There are many reasons to be hopeful about the continued growth of the community organizing field in Central and Eastern Europe. I feel fortunate to have had this incredible opportunity to learn from and support and train organizers and leaders who are committed to justice and equality in this part of the world.”

ellen1

Ellen delivering training in Bulgaria

Ellen Glover, Chicago, Illinois
One Northside
ellen“The GLC Fellowship was such a great experience for me professionally, personally and culturally. It was an amazing opportunity to get to meet the communities that my fellows’ organize and to see how their work is both similar and different to our organizing work in the USA. I look forward to continuing the friendships that I built through this experience as well as the professional contacts. It was transformational to get to connect with the international organizing community.”

 

alltogether

June 28, 2015, Sofia, Bulgaria: Tara Parrish and Ellen Glover (in the middle) with Bulgarian Alumni after a training in Community Organizing.

Sondra Youdelman, New York City, New York
Community Voices Heard
sondratogetgerWhat an incredible experience! As we continue in the day-to-day race of our critical social justice work, it’s rare that we take the time or get the opportunity to share what we’re learning with others, and to step outside our own preconceived notions and embedded thoughts and see things differently. The professional fellows program offered that type of learning and rejuvenating experience for both sides. I am energized by my new perceptions and excited about the path forward.”

Sarah Jane Knoy, Manchester, New Hampshire
Granite State Organizing Project
Sarah“I am very pleased to have been a part of the summer 2015 delegation. Returning as a mentor for the second time has helped me understand the context the fellows work in more deeply and allows me to assist them more effectively. It has been wonderful to see the progress made by my 2013 fellow over the past two years. Thank you for allowing me and GSOP to participate in this exchange!”

Hannah Willage, Chicago Illinois
hannahChicago Coalition for the Homeless
“The GLC legislative fellowship has provided an amazing professional experience. I look forward to ongoing partnership with my fellows and seeing their successful work.”

Elizabeth Balint, Toledo, Ohio
WSOS/ Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and
elizabethDevelopment“It was a great opportunity to be with this U.S. mentor delegation in Romania and Hungary to learn from them and also see our alumni in doing joint activities with their mentors. The Spring 2015 Professional Fellows group was very active in every country in preparing the program for their mentors and spending time with them and the American delegation. As a result we could learn more about the participants of this program and their culture and traditions. Special thanks for the fellows who provided home stays and/or home hospitality for some of the U.S. mentors. It was a unique experience. We hope that the relationships that we built between our U.S. mentors and our European alumni will continue as the alumni are implementing follow on activities where
further mentoring and consultations will be very helpful. Thank You for this great experience to everyone involved!”

Nik Belanger, Charlottesville, Virginia
Virginia Organizing
niknik1“As a member of the U.S. delegation to Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, I saw firsthand the power of community organizing to build stronger, more democratic communities in Central and Eastern Europe. Through the time I spent in Romania working one-on-one with our Fellow to develop an action plan to win a Roma artisan center in Petrosani, I learned more about Roma culture and how her community is fighting to preserve it. In Slovakia, I met with several NGOs, led trainings for immigrant organizations, and talked about Virginia Organizing’s Dismantling Racism work with community leaders. My time in Hungary allowed me to meet with my fellow to discuss his supervision and training of several new community organizers in a newly-formed national network of organizations. In only a couple short weeks, I met people who are just starting to think about community organizing and others who have already committed their lives to it. In all of this, I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and excited to see what happens next!

Kelly Viselman, Chicago, Illinois
Jane Addams Senior Caucus
kelly“The GLC fellowship program was an excellent experience professionally and personally. Collaborating and training with other organizers from the United States and Eastern Europe helped me refine my training and facilitation skills. The fellowship also provided time for valuable reflection on my work in Chicago and helped me feel more connection to a global struggle for justice”.

althogetherbudapest

July 10, 2015, Budapest, Hungary: (L-R) row 1: Ellen Glover, Tara Parrish, Sondra Youdelman, Hannah Willage and Kelly Viselman; row 2: Sarah Jane Knoy and Nik Belanger.

Testimonies from Bulgaria

Nevena Pashova – Sofia, Bulgaria
Internship with Pioneer Valley Project, Springfield, Massachusetts 

BU_Nevena Pashova„The experience in the USA is a lifetime experience for me. I saw the difference between the people here and the people in Europe in the positive way. I have had the most incredible and inspiring host family, host organization and colleagues. The time spent in the USA helped me develop myself in a professional, personal and cultural way. I’ve learned about the power and that the power is based on the relationships between the people in the community. It is always with the community and for the community; it is not about the individual person, but for the power of the whole community. Thank you very much for this great opportunity!”

Dilyana Gyurova – Sofia, Bulgaria
Internship with the Seed House, Wichita, Kansas

diliyana“Community Organizing was a brand new concept for me, when I arrived to the U.S. about a month and a half ago. Now, after having had some short but intense sessions with the many mentors, activists and other resource people that the Professional Fellows Program connected us with, but mostly after having experienced it myself during the fellowship in Wichita, Kansas, I can honestly say that I have my own understanding of what Community Organizing is.
The experience in the field was the one that helped me a lot to reach that – I really enjoyed door-knocking, but even more the whole process of planning, conducting and disseminating campaigns. I would like to finish with an example that was brought to me by my wonderful host, Laura Dungan, who told me about her work with Shel Trapp, an example that best underlines the concept of Organizing that I perceived – in one of his books Trapp is photographed from the back on purpose, because it is not the organizer, but the people who are the ones that matter.”

Kirilka Angelova – Yakoruda, Bulgaria
Internship with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago, Illinois

Kika“I found this fellowship to be a life and work experience. To engage and to involve, to see how people organized themselves for a better life, to see the people power, to feel the truly engagement of the community leaders, to understand more about USA life, to see all this amazing places, to have wonderful time with the group and all people who I met since I am here – great people, professionals and community organizers – this is priceless. I found all the programs very inspiring and interesting. I am very grateful and satisfied. This was a life-changing experience in a good way and of course a great opportunity. Thank you very much! It is never about us, it is about the community! With all my respect”

International Friendship Night in Toledo

Intercultural Dinner in the Hungarian Club in Toledo with the first Fellows Delegation in 2012

Please join the Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development in welcoming a 22-member Professional Fellows delegation from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Enjoy the Pot-luck dinner – by bringing a dish to share!
This multicultural event is free and open to the public.
Seats are limited, please make a reservation by calling Elizabeth Balint at 419-973-8007 or send an e-mail to glcevents@hotmail.com

Program:
5:00PM Social Hour with Silent Auction to raise money for GLC’s international goodwill projects

6:00PM Welcome & Pot-luck dinner

6:45PM Introduction of the international guests

Recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Toledo-Szeged Sister City relationship and welcome the guests from Szeged, Hungary –by Ann Galloway, President of the Toledo-Szeged Committee

Short presentations by two media representatives: Szilvia Suri from Hungary and Cristinela Ionescu from Romania about the minority life and issues.

Announcements of upcoming events and international projects

This delegation’s visit in the U.S. from April 19- June 5, 2015 is sponsored by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Professional Fellows Division as part of “Sustaining Civic Participation in Minority Communities in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and U.S.A.”.
This program is presented in collaboration with the Hungarian Club of Toledo, Toledo-Szeged Committee, and WSOS Community Action Commission Inc.

Elizabeth Balint & Cris Doby will meet potential candidates for the U.S. Exchange in Romania and Hungary

Elizabeth Balint, GLC Project Manager and Cris Doby, U.S. Mentor and Project Advisor will be in Europe to meet with potential candidates of the U.S. exchange before the final selection. Applicants who submitted their paperwork in Hungary, Romania  by the November 15, 2014 deadline will have an opportunity to meet with them.

Meeting dates: November 28 or 29 in Hungary and December 2 or 3 in Bucharest. Please connect with the country directors for more information about the final date, time and location.

The selection of the Spring 2015 U.S. trip participants will be finalized before December 20, 2014 and we will start the J-1 visa process immediately.

Check here to apply for the Fellowship Exchange Program in U.S.

Open competition for participation in U.S. Fellowship Exchange Program

THE APPLICATION IS CLOSED – stay tuned for next year opportunities!


WSOS Community Action Commission, Inc. – Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development in collaboration with C.E.G.A. Foundation in Bulgaria, CCF in Hungary, CeRe in Romania, and CKO in Slovakia announce an Open Competition for Participation in: “SUSTAINING CIVIC PARTICIPATION IN MINORITY COMMUNITIES” an exchange program for Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and United States of America. The exchange program is financed by the U.S. State Department.We invite professionals from any region of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia to apply for participation in a 42-day fellowship in the U.S.A. We encourage submissions by professionals who are actively involved in programs related to citizen participation and advocacy (NGO/civil society development), civic education organizations, citizen advocacy groups, community activists and/or community organizers who work with minority groups. The overall goal of the program is to provide a professional development opportunity for mid-level emerging leaders; create a forum for American and foreign participants to collaborate and share ideas and strategies; and build a global network of professionals able to work effectively in an interconnected environment

OBJECTIVES:

  • develop enhanced leadership and professional skills and effect positive change in their workplaces and communities;
  • build mutual understanding, and create lasting and sustainable partnerships. EU fellows will learn U.S. practices in sustaining civic participation and advocacy with minority communities (including African-American, Latino, Native American, Roma, Disabled, and Homeless) in civil society and democracy;
  • explore diverse community organizing methods for citizens solving problems in their own communities;
  • learn skills in community leadership development and gain hands-on experience at civil society organizations in the U.S.
  • During their 4-week internship placement at national, state or local organizations across the U.S., European participants will observe the role of their U.S. counterparts and gain in-depth knowledge and experience in community organizing as well as adaptable/other approaches that they can implement after their return.

Deadline 15th February 2015

Please read the Announcement before filling the application form.

Please fill in the following documents: Application / Pre-departure Action Plan

NOTE: We do understand that the space is limited. Continue to fill in as much as you can and send your full application on time. At second stage we will require more information by e-mail, where you can add additional information, that you couldn’t submit in your PDF application. Bear in mind that in order to work on the PDF you should firstly downloaded it. If you need Adobe PDF Reader or an updated version, you can download it at:   http://get.adobe.com/reader/. 

The U.S. Mentor Dave Beckwith visiting Romania and Hungary

The last U.S. mentor David Beckwith, U.S. Project Advisor on this grant will travel to Europe between August 18-September 12, 2014. He welcomed and trained every European participants during their visits in NW Ohio in the Spring or Fall 2013 delegation. He will work with the European alumni in providing workshops, assist with consulting and mentoring. He will also gain cultural experience in Europe. He will visit Romania and Hungary and will review all the accomplishments and discuss plans for post-grant activities with our country directors and alumni, not only from these countries but also from Slovakia who will meet with him in Budapest. As this grant ends in September 2014, we will start a new grant on “Sustaining Civic Participation
in Minority Communities in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia” and during
his visit during the introductory community organizing training he will announce this new program and will have an opportunity to talk with some interested people who are involved in minority communities. This will be very helpful, because his experience can be used during the selection process later.

The book “Taking Action & Changing Lives in Minority Communities” was presented in Bulgaria

During July the country partner from Bulgaria has organized and participated in few events where they’ve presented the “Taking Action & Changing Lives in Minority Communities” publication.

20 representatives from local youth-oriented organizations get familiar with the publication, more specifically on the campaign component as they had two days training on how to develop and implement campaigns at local level. Going through the steps of developing a campaign such as: identifying the problem, analyzing the situation and based on that developing aims and objective, identifying the target groups, messages of the campaign, methods and evaluation, the group explored the methods used in the publication from each country.

Another occasion the publication was present is during the annual summer camps organized by Arete Youth Foundation, where Miglena Yordanova an alumni had presented her case to a group of 42 youths from different part of Bulgaria. She officially received the publication and had chance during the 7 days of the camp to engage the youth with the community organizing through the book.