What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
In December 2009 UME facilitated the official signing of a sister cities partnership between Somerville and Tiznit. To commemorate the event, UME brought a group of Somerville professionals from a wide range of different professions to Tiznit for five days of dialogue and planning for future collaborations, as well as an opportunity to learn from and with one another. Through this cross-sector and cross-cultural dialogue and site visits to schools, health clinics, artists' studios, government projects and local cultural sites in Tiznit, participants from both cities were inspired to create joint projects and partnerships moving forward in various professional sectors.
In the spirit of collaboration and learning the Tiznit local government expressed a desire to learn how to better link its schools and employment opportunities, so as to reduce the city's large unemployment rate and ensure that graduating students have the skills to meaningfully contribute to their community. This interest, combined with the momentum created by the personal and professional relationships formed between the participants from Somerville and Tiznit that led UME to develop the CPE.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
The University of the Middle East Project (UME) is an education non-profit organization that develops and implements professional development and exchange programs with high school teachers in the Middle East, North Africa and US. Since 1997 UME has sought to promote educational leadership that prioritizes critical thinking, civic engagement and cross-cultural collaboration, striving towards creating a more sustainable, tolerant and peaceful world. UME continuously evaluates its programs, seeking the feedback of participating educators, and adapting its workshops to meet the evolving needs of teachers in the Middle East, North Africa and US.
The Sister Cities partnership, which has led to the development of the CPE, was originally inspired by Samira Idelcadi, a UME alumna who took the training she received from UME and applied it to involving her students in community issues of importance to them. Her students' engagement in the Tiznit community was so impressive to local government officials that she was asked to run for City Council. It was Samira's position on the Tiznit City Council that originally facilitated the Sister Cities relationship between Somerville and Tiznit. UME is dedicated to working with educators at a grass roots level to promote positive social change, and has been delighted to bring this model to other sectors, fostering cross-cultural and cross-sector collaborations.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company