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U.S. Government Continues Smart Investment in MEPI

Article by Anita B. McBride February 1, 2013 //   3 minute read

Recently, I met with student leaders from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), who were visiting the United States from 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and who were selected by American embassies in their respective countries for their leadership experience and capacity to impact positive change in the MENA region.

Launched by the Bush Administration in 2002, MEPI seeks to develop vibrant partnerships between the U.S. and citizens in the MENA region in order to build more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies of the region.  These students were here in the U.S. for one month, spending time in Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. The student leaders and I discussed the importance of building a network of personal relationships and the necessity to work together to address challenges facing their countries and the region. I highlighted the fact that two U.S. Administrations have now supported the MEPI program and the U.S. Government, through the generosity of the American people, is invested in sustaining initiatives that work and that will provide them with a hopeful future. I was invited to speak to the MEPI participants by David Lee, a graduate of Georgetown University and a mentor for the MEPI student leaders program. He himself is a leader, having been selected as one of the first U.S. National Commission to UNESCO Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellows in 2008. Administered by the State Department, the Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellows program encourages youth to impact change through the mandates of UNESCO in order to promote relations between the U.S. and other nations. Through the fellowship, David founded the Stinky Peace Project™, which converts organic waste into useable cooking and heating fuel in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.  Currently, he is looking to expand to Guyana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  David says, “I am thankful that the U.S. Government took a chance on me.” David knows firsthand how students can benefit from programs that promote creative and sustainable solutions to problems while also building lasting personal relationships, learning from each other, and figuring out ways to enact positive change in the world. I am proud that the MEPI program is connecting and engaging youth to address issues of global concern and unleashing their social entrepreneurial talents.  It is one of the best investments the U.S. Government can make in promoting peace and security in our world.

This post was written by Anita McBride, Senior Advisor of the George W. Bush Institute.