• Dean Isaac Colbert addresses the Clinton Fellows in an Aug. 8 ceremony that marked the end of their nine-week stay at MIT. The 12 professionals from South Africa spent the summer on campus and traveling in the United States to learn more about the role of non-governmental organizations in a democratic society.

    Photo / L. Barry Hetherington

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MIT hosts inaugural meeting of Clinton Democracy Fellows from South Africa

MIT hosted the inaugural session of the Clinton Democracy Fellowships this summer, providing room and board for 12 South African professionals who participated in the City Year-sponsored program.

Through its partnership with former President Bill Clinton in the Clinton Democracy Fellowships, City Year hopes to encourage the development of citizen-service programs and policies to help build democracy in South Africa.

The program was hosted at MIT by Chancellor Phillip Clay and coordinated on campus by Alex O'Neil, administrative staff assistant in the Chancellor's Office.

"MIT is very pleased to be a partner in sponsoring the Clinton Democracy Fellowship pilot program. We believe this is a valuable program that serves as a bridge by which City Year can provide the opportunity for NGO [nongovernmental organization] professionals in South Africa to receive a memorable educational and professional experience," said Clay.

Participants, who ranged in age from 22 to 35, were chosen through a competitive selection process to reside at MIT for nine weeks this summer. Most work for non-governmental organizations and are engaged in programs that alleviate poverty or violence, for instance, or train young people in information technology or help communities establish radio stations.

While at MIT, the fellows lived in Senior House and were given access to MIT libraries, Athena clusters and athletic facilities. Fellows spent long days in Room 1-132 learning about topics such as social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management and team building. The group also traveled in the United States, including a visit to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with Clinton.

The program ran from June 15 through Aug. 10. For information about the Clinton Democracy Fellowships, contact Azad Oommen of City Year at (617) 927-2616.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 14, 2002.

Topics: Global, Volunteering, outreach, public service



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