Input for tolerance and inclusion through the program Promoting Tolerance
Young leaders from government, academia and civil society from the project region MSOE took part in the study tour in the U.S. as part of this year's program, "Promoting Tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe". Since 1992 the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) run annually this joint program for the strengthening of democracy and promotion of tolerance in the foundation's region Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
This year already the first and the second phase of the program were completed - the successful online preparatory seminar and the presence seminar in May in Kiev entitled "Promoting multi-ethnic societies. How to do it? ", carried out together with representatives of alumni from previous years of the program. This year's group of 11 participants from Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the three South Caucasus countries conclusively travelled in November to the third and final phase of the program - the ten-day study tour in several U.S. cities.
The study tour started with a welcome event in Washington, DC, at which Claus Gramckow, director of the Transatlantic Dialogue Program of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Washington, informed the participants on the foundation's work in the United States. The program also included a series of discussion meetings and briefings with representatives of public political life and non-governmental organizations. Discussed were primarily important political and social issues with a focus on the integration policy and the coexistence of diverse races and ethnic groups in the U.S.. The participants found the visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington deeply moving.
The second stop in the program was New York City. After exciting discussions at the headquarters of the AJC, including with David Harris, the executive director of AJC, the participants visited important historical and cultural sites and had the opportunity to learn more about the immigration history of the city.
For the weekend program, the participants split up into three smaller groups to visit Houston, Detroit or Seattle. There, they participated in various events and meetings and got to know the life in the local Jewish communities.
The study tour ended in Los Angeles, where all participants came together again. Visits to the Gay and Lesbian centre, and the social project "Homeboy Industries", being a practical example of tolerance and solidarity, were very enlightening for the group of young potentials, who all came from former communist countries. At the final event with Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Affairs of the AJC, they stressed the importance of the experience they have gained in the course of the study tour, and their willingness to implement it in the work of their organizations. Thus the initiative "Promoting Tolerance" proved to be an important input for tolerance education and integration in the countries of the foundation’s region Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.