University of Delaware

Institute for Global Studies

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Congratulations!

May 2014

Dear Student:

Congratulations on your selection as a participant in the Middle East Partnership Initiative's Student Leaders Program (MEPI-SLP) at the University of Delaware funded by the U.S. Department of State. Many excellent candidates from throughout the Middle East and North Africa were considered. Your selection speaks highly of your academic standing, your character, and your potential for future achievement.

This letter is intended to serve as a welcome message and to provide you with some information about the MEPI-SLP Program here at UD. We know that you must have many questions, and we hope to answer some here.

Questions and answers are important in themselves, but it is our belief that the dialogue created by the act of questioning and the discussion stimulated in the search for answers are what make both strong scholars and good leaders. A key element of the MEPI-SLP program at UD is communication, as speakers and as listeners. Our classes are based in civil deliberation, respectful disagreement, and thoughtful conversations on challenging topics. It is our sincere hope that your experiences as a participant in the MEPI-SLP Program and as a visitor to Delaware and the United States will help you to ask many more questions in dialogue and encourage you to seek many more answers in discussion, both here at UD and in the future.

With your cohort of student leaders, the University of Delaware will be celebrating its 11th year hosting MEPI-SLPs – which means you will be part of a vibrant and active family of UD MEPI colleagues and peers from around the world.

Within UD, the Institute for Global Studies (IGS) is responsible for implementing and administering the Program. Dr. Tracey Holden is the Academic Director of the Program. Dr. Daniel Bottomley will oversee the administration of the Program, and Ms. Rachel Garcia is the Program's Administrative Coordinator. Together, with the assistance of a team at IGS, we have assembled an impressive academic program drawing on faculty from across the University, complemented by specially invited speakers.

During most of the program, you will be in residence on the University of Delaware's main, 2000-acre campus located in Newark, Delaware. Tracing its roots to 1743, UD is a state-assisted, privately governed university and is a land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant, urban-grant, and Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive institution. It has seven unique colleges: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Sciences; Business and Economics; Earth, Ocean and Environment; Education and Human Development; Engineering; and Health Sciences. UD offers 127 undergraduate, 84 masters, and 42 doctoral programs. It has a student body of approximately 21,000 (16,521 undergraduate and 3,634 graduate).

Your stay in Delaware will include short (one to two day) trips to Philadelphia and New York City, as well as an extended trip to the western state of California. The program concludes in Washington, D.C.

The academic program covers American culture, history, and politics from a variety of disciplines and includes training in communication and leadership skills. The academic program is complemented by a variety of activities where student-participants engage in assisting the less fortunate while learning about volunteerism and civic engagement. Site visits and study-tours complement the academic program.

We should note, however, that while the MEPI Program is funded by the US Government, its design and curriculum is the creation of the University of Delaware. We are committed to providing you with a variety of perspectives. Among your faculty and speakers (as well as your readings) will be some voices that are critical of the United States and its government. Some might echo the approach taken by Henry David Thoreau, one of America's greatest philosophers who wrote in 1849: "How does it become a person to behave toward this American government today? I answer, that one cannot without disgrace be associated with it." Others will be equally as strong in their support the government. But all will likely agree that being self-critical and critical of our government is a central part of what it is to be an American.

You will note that the name of the Program is the "Student Leaders Program." This wording is intentional, for intermixed in the American Studies curriculum will be several workshops on leadership. As part of the Program you will ask yourself what is it to be a leader, what is leadership, how am I a leader, and how might I provide leadership in the future. We consider leadership both to be a specific yet broad idea. As scholars and educators, it is in our nature to help our students make the most out of life both for themselves and for others. Respectful dialogue is essential, as effective leaders both speak and listen to learn as much as possible. It is important to know that every student in the program was selected for their potential as a leader. That means we will have many different ideas, opinions, and perspectives to discuss, which will challenge our beliefs, assumptions, and what we think we know.

In many ways the time you spend with us will seem like a vacation. You will be on holiday from your regular routine and will spend time exploring new places. However, please keep in mind that the Program's success depends on your commitment to adhere to its classes, readings, and schedules. Your attendance is expected at each of the Program's lectures, seminars, and discussions. Although we have built a good deal of "free time" into the schedule, you will often feel challenged by the busy schedule and academic assignments. Some of the social and cultural events have been designated as optional. However, we do expect that you will want to make the most of your time here by participating in as many activities as possible. This is, in part, owing to our desire not only to build scholarly understanding, but also to build a community with you -- and between you and your fellow participants -- which will last beyond your stay with us.

Elsewhere in this website are several pages concerning your program, including many logistical points which you should review before your depart. You can find short biographies of the program staff on the website. We encourage you to read these biographies in the coming weeks. A Program staff member will be in touch with you shortly to develop your own biography to be shared with the MEPI-SLP students and staff.

Please take the time to thoroughly read the website. We will be in regular e-mail contact with you before, during, and after the program. If you have any questions regarding the program, please feel free to contact us beforehand via e-mail, phone, or fax. The entire staff of the Program is very much looking forward to meeting you and working with you at UD. We hope that the program will prove to be just the beginning of lasting scholarly ties and friendship.

With warm regards,

Dr. Tracey Holden, Academic Director of the MEPI Program

Dr. Dan Bottomley, Associate Director for Contracts and Grants

Ms. Rachel Garcia, Administrative Coordinator

 



  • Institute for Global Studies  •   Elliott Hall, 26 East Main Street  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: ++1 (302) 831-2852  •   Fax: ++1 (302) 831-6042  •   © 2011