Conclusion of 2014 Gabr Fellowship

Information Statement 14

The 2014 Gabr Fellows' United States program convened in Washington, D.C. on June 7th. The Fellows had an active schedule of fulfilling experiences including: visits to the White House, State Department, Library of Congress and National Defense University, meetings with influential figures such as Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman, Arab American Institute’s President, Dr. James Zogby, and Sojourner’s Reverend Jim Wallis, and celebrating the 2014 Meridian International Center's Global Citizen Awardee, Foundation Chairman Mr. Shafik Gabr. Through these experiences, the Gabr Fellows engaged with the leading voices and institutions crafting US policy and forging cultural relevance in the 21st Century. They asked pressing questions, overcame challenges, dared to question the status quo, sought opportunities for further collaboration, and learned the value of remaining in the arena, despite its occasional loneliness.

Traveling south to Atlanta, Georgia allowed the Fellows to explore the legacy of race in America and the faith which embodies the American character. In the sanctuary of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Fellows were moved by the sermon of the Reverend Raphael Warnock alongside the eldest sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Afterwards they visited the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site and Center on Nonviolent Social Change. A roundtable at CNN International, a tour at Coca-Cola, dinner with Director for Network Booking at CNN Maria Ebrahimji, and candid discourse with Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed reflected a vibrant visit to the Dogwood City.

Venturing north to the Big Apple, the Fellows consumed a breadth of experiences and knowledge across New York City. Visits to the 9/11 Memorial and discussion of international affairs challenges with US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations were only the beginning. The trip continued with meetings with Judge Jeanine Pirro at Fox News, the Huffington Post, Google Ideas and Sir Clive Gillinson at Carnegie Hall, and experiencing a Yankees Game, the United Nations headquarters, the Museum of Modern Art and Drew University, providing the Fellows with a distinct representation of the intellectual and artistic spectrum existing in America's most culturally impactful city.

The 2014 Fellows conceived their action projects during their trip to Egypt in May. Now, with advice from many of their generous speakers and a Google Ideas workshop, the collaborative projects are in progress as the Fellows work in collaboration from their respective communities to see them through to fruition.

Having completed their travels together in Egypt (May 10-24, Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan) and in the United States (June 7-21, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York City, New Jersey), the Fellows now move forward towards implementation of the projects and continued endeavor to educate and inform locally the perspectives garnered globally. The East-West Dialogue mission to bridge the divide between the Arab World and the West through the auspices of person-to-person exchange and the building of friendships has entered a new chapter as its second class merges with their 2013 counterparts, with efforts to recruit the 2015 class commencing September 2014.

“To gain perspective, we must be willing to place ourselves in situations that challenge us. During the Gabr Fellowship in Egypt, I was challenged to experience the unknown in a culture with which I had no experience. In the United States, I was challenged to rethink what I thought I knew about my own culture. In both locations, I found that my preconceived notions about Egypt, the United States, and myself were turned upside down and I was forced to investigate not only the truth of those beliefs, but the source of them. The necessity of removing ourselves from familiar surroundings to better understand our place in our own lives, though sometimes uncomfortable, brings with it the reward of strength of purpose to create a more complete, truthful, and compassionate picture of the world in which we live and of those who share it with us”. said Chase Bowman, US fellow.

The Gabr Fellowship is an initiative of Shafik Gabr designed to promote intercultural dialogue and collaboration between Egyptians and Americans. In an increasingly interconnected world, cross-cultural understanding and professional networks are essential for peace and progress. The Gabr Fellowship is sponsored by the Shafik Gabr Foundation. Fellows hail from the fields of the arts, sciences, media, law, and both social and business entrepreneurship.