Civic Happenings
from the UMass Civic Initiative
 March, 2016

Picnic with the 2012 Argentine Group
What's Happening with The Civic Initiative? 

Welcome back to the UMass Civic Initiative Newsletter! Spring is finally here and we are starting to receive the lists of program participants. The summer programs will be here before we know it!  It is very exciting to see who will be coming to Amherst. 

If you or anyone you know are interested in hosting summer program participants from Pakistan or Iraq for a dinner, and are in the Western Massachusetts area, please email Samantha Camera, Academic Director. She can be reached at , and can provide additional information, or answer any questions you might have. Additionally, we are still looking for Civic Ambassadors for this Summer. These are college-aged students who attend sessions at UMass during the summer with the Program Participants, providing a unique opportunity to meet and interact with students from a different part of the world. For more information about becoming a Civic Ambassador please  click here

Civic Participant Showcase
Willibroad Dze-Ngwa, PhD 
Program Title and Year: Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars on U.S. Politics and Political Thought 2010
Dze-Ngwa, APD 2010

What have you been up to since the program?
After an eye-opening experience with the UMass Civic Initiative in 2010, I returned to Cameroon very enriched.  In 2011, I received the prestigious US State Department Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence Award for which I had the opportunity to return to the US. I spent one year giving lectures on topics including: African Governments, African Politics and Global Issues in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Savannah State University (SSU) in Georgia. I also developed an undergraduate program in International Studies and received the Fulbright Occasional Lecture Fund to be a guest speaker at Ithaca College (New York) and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (Tifton, Georgia). I also spoke at Kennesaw State University (Georgia), Shippensburg University (Pennsylvania), Trident Technical College (Charleston, South Carolina) and Georgia College and State University (Milledgeville, Georgia). At the end of the program, I returned home and was voted pioneer President of Africa for Research in Comparative Education(AFRICE) in addition to being appointed as a member of the Publications Standing Committee of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES). Greatly inspired by my new experience, I expanded on the activities of the African Network against Illiteracy, Conflicts and Human Rights Abuses(ANICHRA), as it's Founder-Executive Director. In November 2015, I was elected Vice President in charge of African Affairs in the Civic Commission for Africa (CCfA), a network of African civil society organizations. Since November 2014, I have been an Associate Professor of Political History and International Relations in the university system of Cameroon with a permanent faculty position at the University of Yaoundé. I recently returned from Japan, where I was invited to participate in the preparatory G7 meeting conflict resolution, with particular emphasis on the Syrian crisis.
What was the most influential experience you had while in the US with the Civic Initiative?
I would say that the opportunity to meet, cohabit and share stories and experiences with people from 18 different countries despite our different realities was the most impactful aspect of the program.  I also greatly appreciated the hard work put in by the course facilitators and the young leaders/Civic Initiative staff who took us around.  From a global perspective, the culture of, accepting, recognizing and protecting the "other", along with the idea that celebrating differences can promote global peace and understanding.
If you could spend another day in Amherst, how would you spend it?
I would re-take some of the interesting lectures that shaped my thoughts and influenced my current area of interest. I would spend the afternoon buying used books to enrich my library for the benefit of my colleagues and students in Cameroon, who may not have the opportunity to buy a book.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a person chosen to participate in this program?
I would advise any person chosen for this program to be open-minded, dream big, learn from the American experience and be determined to return home and actively contribute in uplifting his/her community/country.  I hope I am doing that myself.
What is next on your To Do List?
My country of Cameroon, is a complex juxtaposition of various diversities, linguistics, geography, ethnicity, religion and politics, which calls for effective decentralization in the internal state structure as a means of ensuring internal cohesion. Paradoxically, the federal system adopted in 1961 was abolished in 1972 in favor of a strongly centralized system. I am working to:
  • Engage in campaigns for effective decentralization.
  • If possible, carry out comparative research and publication on why federalism failed in Cameroon and what makes it work in the US. This will provide me with a more nuanced understanding of federalism, and enable me to attempt to replicate that system within Cameroon.
  • Be fully engaged in Peace-building, Democracy & Good Governance, Citizenship Education, Minority & Human Rights Issues, Leadership & Community Development and Social Research.

Valerie Moore
Where Are They Now? 
Valerie Moore

Program Titles and Years worked:  
I worked for the summer programs in 2008 and 2009, on APD and IYLEP. I worked during the academic year from 2006-2009.

What have you been up to since Civic?
After I finished my last summer at Civic, I started law school at Boston University. During law school, I worked for the Supreme Judicial Court's Access to Justice Initiative during my first summer. I worked as a summer associate at the law firm of Ferriter Scobbo & Rodophele PC in Boston, Massachusetts the following summer.  I graduated law school in 2012 and passed the bar in New York and Massachusetts. I joined Ferriter Scobbo as an associate right after I finished the bar exam. My practice consists of both litigation and transactional work, weighted slightly more toward the former.  My work is primarily in the fields of land use and energy, but the firm represents many different small businesses and municipalities, so my practice encompasses a wide variety of topics. I've been with the firm for four years now and very much enjoy my work. Much like working for the Civic Initiative, every day is different at my job. In one week, I worked on an affordable housing development, a zoning dispute, a dispute over an estate, and on an alternative energy portfolio standards compliance. I enjoy the variety and the opportunity to constantly learn and explore new areas of the law.  When I'm not working, I spend a lot of time running and have recently taken up boxing. I ran my first marathon in Paris in 2015 and try to travel whenever I can.

What is your favorite Civic Memory
It is hard to pick just one, but the home visits really stick out to me. It was fascinating to hear the participants' impressions of ordinary American home life and how it differs from their own experiences.

What do you miss most about working with the Civic Initiative?
I miss the amazing people I had the privilege of working with. I am still in contact with many of them today and always enjoy catching up with my former Fellows.
I miss the team I worked with through all three years I was at the Civic Initiative. They became so much more than co-workers in that time. We spent day and night together during the summer.  It was great to be able to share our stress and our struggles with each other and to learn and laugh together.

What advice would you give a first time Civic Fellow on their first day?
Learn as much as you can, from both your co-workers and the participants. In all likelihood, you will never again be surrounded by so many people from across the globe with such varied experiences. You will take the lessons from it with you for the rest of your life.  Also, remember to take time for yourself when it gets too hectic, it will help you keep things in perspective.

What is next on your To Do List ?
I have several major project deadlines this week at work so those are the most immediate next items on my to-do list, followed by a trip to Nantucket to recover from a very intense couple of weeks.  The long-term to do list is all about continuing to grow my practice.

Do You Remember? 
First days at UMass
2015 YSEALI Group on the bus during the scavenger hunt.
2015 YSEALI Group after team building exercises at Groff Park. 

Mike Hannahan 

Becky Howland 
Program Manager 

Democracy education at home and abroad.   

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