At this same time last year, the Mansfield Center was excitedly getting ready to host our first Professional Fellows Program, the Women’s Empowerment Program. It started with a group of 10 women from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand in the spring of 2012, and we recently completed the program after sending our second group of American women to visit their fellowship partners in Southeast Asia in January 2013.
As the months have passed since the actual exchanges in the Women’s Empowerment Program took place, it has been wonderful to see the relationships between the Asian and American fellowships continue to grow. Fellows have found that this 5-week program is but a launching pad for a longer friendship and that they have been impacted by this professional and cultural exchange in ways they did not expect. Says some of our Women’s Empowerment Fellows: “each of the 20 participants were matched well…and establish[ed] life-long professional and personal relationships,” and “I think I speak for all the Montana Fellows when I say that we think this program changed our lives and the lives of our Fellowship partners and that we would like to see it continue forever….”
Witnessing these outcomes from the Women’s Empowerment Program makes us all the more ready to meet the new fellows in the Economic Empowerment Program and excited to watch new relationships flourish and the learning and discoveries that take place in these Professional Fellows programs.
We welcome the 2013-2014 Economic Empowerment Fellows, representing Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States and look forward to hearing about your experiences and insights as we embark on this journey together!