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The Stevens Initiative: Connecting Libyans and Americans through Virtual Exchange
May 13, 2021


We are excited to announce that Stevens Initiative will fund three new virtual exchange programs in Libya, adding to four prior projects.

Starting from April 2021, 300 high school students in Benghazi and San Antonio (Texas) will work together through the Culturingua project to develop a social enterprise idea that solves global challenges such as promoting affordable and clean energy, quality education, and health and well-being. This project will reach 150 high school students in Benghazi from THINKCreative, Benghazi Center for Gifted, Abu Bakr Al Razi High School, and Khansaa High School.

Soliya’s Global Circles will connect university students from the USA, Middle East and North Africa for facilitated discussions related to gender, current events, social issues, media and the environment. Libyan participants will develop cross-cultural skills, empathy, and critical thinking through compelling discussions on global issues that matter to youth today.

A third initiative with SUNY Upstate Medical University is Bridging Cultures to Defeat COVID-19 through a virtual health sciences education program that brings together American, Middle Eastern, and North African clinical and scientific trainees. This collaborative, scientific, and medical linkage provides a unique professional development and cultural exchange opportunity for medical students and practitioners to deal with a global pandemic. An estimated 200 Libyans will participate thanks to a partnership with the National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations (NCUSLR).  The new initiatives  expand youth engagement joining two ongoing virtual programs linking young people and professionals from Libya with their peers from around the world. Soliya already brings together college-aged youth for online, face-to-face dialogue about global and social issues. Their first project started in 2016 in partnership with universities in Zliten, Misurata, Sabratha, Sebha, Zawia, Tripoli, and Benghazi. Both projects are benefiting 513 Libyan participants.

Another ongoing initiative funds an action-learning course on international business cultures managed by the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan with Benghazi Youth for Technology and Entrepreneurship (BYTE). This project has reached 32 participants across Libya, building off a prior initiative that reached 42 Libyans through their MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship (M2GATE). Their earlier project provided an eight-week session where students across the United States and MENA region formed teams to identify a civic and/or global issue and developed a business model to address the challenge. The top teams in each cohort traveled to Michigan to meet entrepreneurs and pitch their business plans to a panel of judges.

The Stevens Initiative’s first grant for Libyans funded National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s Civic Tech Leadership Program from 2016 – 2017. The Technology for Accountability Lab, through Stanford University Online, provided an English-Arabic open online course, using technology to promote good governance, with techniques like mobile surveys and open data analysis. Within the Lab, NDI selected 200 applicants for a special virtual exchange track that offered hands-on mentorship. Top teams traveled to Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley for additional skills-building and to meet with tech, governance, and policy leaders.

The Stevens Initiative was launched in 2015 as a living memorial to continue the legacy of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by the Aspen Institute.  The Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates also provide support.

Learn more about the program on this link:  https://www.stevensinitiative.org/stevens-initiative-makes-international-learning-opportunities-available-to-nearly-19000-young-people-around-the-world/