Civic Happenings
from the UMass Civic Initiative
 April, 2016

Mike and Becky in Karachi, Pakistan, with SUSI alumni!

What's Happening with The Civic Initiative? 

April was a very exciting month! At the end of April we spent a week in Karachi and kicked off a new U.S. Department of State University Partners hip Program with UMass and three universities in Balochistan, Pakistan focusing on Management and Entrepreneurship. While in Karachi, we had the pleasure of seeing Alumni from the SUSI Pakistani Student Program as well as the 2014 Instructional Leadership Program for Teachers. It is great to see old friends and see what people are doing after their time at UMass. We are enthusiastic to begin work on the Partnership Program and continue working on the fast approaching summer programs!

Representatives for the Balochistan Partnership at Signing Ceremony in Karachi, Pakistan.
The summer program planning continues, we have all but one group's participant list, and the academic session scheduling is in full swing!  We are looking forward to another year of campaign simulations with Matt MacWilliams and Leadership sessions with Raz Sibii! Additionally, we are excited to welcome Mick O'Connor to the Civic Initiative Team as the new Academic  Director for the IYLEP Program.                                                 

Civic Participant Showcase
Fauzieh Merchant 
Program Title and Year: Instructional Leadership 2014
Fauzieh Merchant, Instructional Leadership 2014

What have you been up to since the program?
While remaining closely attached to my foremost passion, teaching, I also began conducting a series of training workshops to spread what I learned in the US to other educators and students in Pakistan. 

In addition, I was asked to join Islamabad ASCD Connected Community in the capacity of Director Editorial Board and am involved in a range of projects aimed at uplifting the standard of education in Pakistan. We held an immensely successful workshop on 'How to Blog' and our next venture is the Libraries for All Project where we aim to set up libraries in schools for underprivileged children. 
I have also been conducting educational research and completed a research project to gauge the perceptions of peer-assessment among Pakistani high-school students in order to introduce this method as a viable method of assessment.

Writing is something I thoroughly enjoy and I've been writing on a range of platforms, including blogs and magazine articles. The focus of my writing is predominantly to raise awareness about the gaps within the current Pakistani education system and offer solutions for improvement both within the public and private sector.

I am trying to make a difference by addressing the issues within our education system by using a range of strategies and was nominated as ASCD Emerging Leader. I fervently hope that I can work collaboratively with other activists to ensure that our coming generations can benefit from an exceptional learning experience and make Pakistan shine in the global arena.
What was the most influential experience you had while in the U.S. with the Civic Initiative?
Although I thoroughly enjoyed every part of the experience ranging from the excursions, visiting the high schools, interacting with different people, the thing that had the most impact on me was the time we spent in class, where our beliefs about education were challenged. The inspirational personality of our teacher, Dr. Rebecca Woodland, and the way she presented concepts to us have left an indelible mark on the way I think about educational principles.

If you could spend another day in Amherst, how would you spend it?                                       I would choose to spend a day in Dr. Woodland's class to re-live the thrill of being on the mental roller-coaster she would take us on.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a person chosen to participate in this program?
While you're there treat everything as a learning opportunity. What one learns in classes is only a part of the learning experience. Every adventurous trip you take, every person you pass by, every new day is packed full of moments which will become cherished memories that you take back home with you.

What is next on your To Do List?
In a nutshell, I want to work on raising the literacy level of Pakistan whereby every child has access to an excellent educational experience. To achieve this there are a number of projects in the pipeline at various stages of planning and implementation. As I mentioned earlier, the library project is up next, interspersed with conducting more training workshops. I also want to set up an educational TV channel that will make education accessible in all areas of Pakistan and will cater to a range of ages, abilities and interests.

Haley Dorval
Where Are They Now? 
Haley Dorval

Program Titles and Years worked:  
Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program in 2012, Argentina Fulbright Program in 2012 and 2013. 

What have you been up to since Civic?
Shortly after wrapping up my second summer of Civic with the Argentina Fulbright program, I traveled to Argentina for a six week program with my university.  My experience with the Argentinian Fulbrighters, both in 2012 and 2013, was such a positive one that it ended up influencing my decision to study abroad in Buenos Aires. Argentinian culture truly blew me away - the people were full of passion and generously eager to share their country with you.  A year later, I traveled to Greece to complete my study abroad requirement for my International Affairs degree.

In December 2014, I graduated from Northeastern University in Boston. After spending a couple months with my friends and family, I packed my bags and moved to Washington, D.C. to start an internship on Capitol Hill. I received an offer for my first job out of college about a month later and have been working for a member of Congress as an Executive Assistant ever since. Working in the U.S. House of Representatives has taught me a great deal about how to be an effective communicator in a fast-paced environment. I am grateful for this and also for the number of unique experiences that I have been afforded in the past year. Among the most memorable was the opportunity to sit in the House Chamber to hear Pope Francis address Congress.

What is your favorite Civic Memory
Where do I even start? Civic opened my eyes to so much good in our world. I arguably learned more from the conversations I shared with my Iraqi, Argentinian, and American friends than I did in an entire semester at school (this is no attempt to diminish my academic experience, but rather a testament to just how much I learned those summers). I will never forget sitting on the porch of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house and hearing about how someone grew up halfway across the world from me. From driving together in the big white vans singing Katy Perry songs, to riding roller coasters at Six Flags, no day in the Civic program lacked excitement or was ever the same.
What do you miss most about working with the Civic Initiative?
The people. Both the staff and the program participants at the Civic Initiative were unlike any other group I have ever encountered. It's incredible to watch what happens when people from around the world spend a couple months engaging in day-to-day activities together. I hope you all know that I think of you often and wish nothing but the best for each of you. I am forever indebted for all that you taught me. 
What advice would you give a first time Civic Fellow on their first day?
Live in the present. The opportunity to participate in the Civic program is one that doesn't come around often. Life is full of a million distractions, but you will never get the time you have here back. Enjoy every moment, challenge yourself to try new things, and treasure the friendships you will make.
What is next on your To Do List ?
In the long term, I would love to find a position where I can get back to doing work similar to the mission of Civic. For the short term, study a new language, continue nurturing the relationships and friendships I have now, and seek out more opportunities to grow professionally.

Do You Remember? 
Being out and about
2015 APD Group at the State House in Boston with MA Senate President Stan Rosenberg
2015 APD Group at Tanglewood to listen to the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Mike Hannahan 

Becky Howland 
Program Manager 

Democracy education at home and abroad.   

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