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2015 Global Leadership Forum: "Resilience in the Face of Climate Change"

2015-2016 Humphrey Fellows gather at the U.S. Capitol for a group photo

From October 25 to October 29, 2015, 167 Humphrey Fellows representing 90 countries attended the 2015 Hubert H. Humphrey Global Leadership Forum, “Resilience in the Face of Climate Change: A Global Perspective on Leadership,” at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. During the five-day Forum, the Fellows focused on how global warming affects the world, their nations and their professions.  They also explored the importance of developing leadership skills, managing change and networking with their American and international peers.

Fellows kicked off the week by getting to know one another through a team-building activity organized by Humphrey Alumna Shanta Nagendram. Shanta set the forum’s tone as one that would call for leadership and problem solving among the Fellows, many of whom were meeting for the first time at the event. Later that evening, the Global Leadership Forum officially commenced with a dinner accompanied by a presentation on the program’s namesake, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. Documentarian Mick Caouette shared scenes from his biographical film, The Art of the Possible, accompanied by comments from Anne L. Howard-Tristani, niece of Vice President Humphrey.

Leaders in the field from National Geographic and the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State were invited to address critical aspects of climate change. However, Fellows did not remain passive bystanders and instead were challenged to offer their own regional solutions that would address the growing threat of climate change. The Fellows themselves presented on climate change on two separate occasions during the Forum. The first was a campus presentation on the links between climate change and their professional field of study. The second was a breakout discussion and presentation on challenges and solutions to climate change in their own regions.

The week also included opportunities to showcase the Fellows’ home cultures and gather together for networking. As is tradition, the Fellows and their countries’ Ambassadors were invited to a diplomatic reception in the historic Benjamin Franklin Room of the U.S. Department of State. The event was marked by welcome remarks by Jaye Chen, Executive Vice President of the Institute of International Education and Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Additionally, Humphrey Alumnus Sujeev Shakya was invited to share his personal experiences in exhibiting resilience. Sujeev offered words of wisdom for making the most out the program year and discussed his personal story of resilience in the face of the 2014 Nepalese earthquake.

Fellows also participated in sessions with representatives from Refugees International, the National Endowment for Democracy, Millennium Challenge Corporation and The Asia Foundation. Fellows had the chance to network with Washington D.C. area professionals at a mid-week networking reception.

The week ended with a Sharing Cultures event, where Fellows were invited to share a traditional song or dance from their home countries.

The Global Leadership Forum is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and organized by the Institute of International Education.