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Young Near East, African, and South Asian Professionals Visit UCLA's Center for Civil Society

Young Near East, African, and South Asian Professionals Visit UCLA's Center for Civil Society

16 business, government, and media workers from 15 countries include UCLA in national tour to study public-private partnerships, leadership strategies, and U.S. policy formation.

By Harout Semerdjian

Sixteen young professionals arrived at UCLA August 1 as part of a national study tour that began in Washington, DC, July 21. They came from 15 countries of the Near East, Africa, and South Asia, ranging from Ms. Fatima-Zohra Harizi, manager of a clothing company in Algeria, to Mr. Mahmoud A.K. Mringo, a deputy mayor from Tanzania, and Ms. Nuzhat Aziz, assistant producer of a radio program in India. The mainly Arabic speaking group were selected for their demonstrated ability to influence their societies. All were between 25 and 35 years old. Their goal was to study the role of public-private partnerships in revitalizing democratic institutions. They were also to look at U.S. foreign policy with an emphasis on the Near East, South Asia, and Africa. Their visit to the U.S. was sponsored by the U.S. State Department. At UCLA they were hosted by the International Institute's International Visitors Bureau.

At UCLA the group's main stop was at the School of Public Policy and Social Research's new Center for Civil Society, which just opened this January. The center is engaged in a wide-ranging study of the role of nonprofits and community organizations in Los Angeles.

The new center is directed by Professor Helmut Anheier, who was recruited from the London School of Economics. Anheier briefed the international visitors on his center's work. The center, he said, has both a local and international agenda. "At the local level we look at the nonprofits in Los Angeles. L.A. is a social laboratory because it is very diverse ethnically. New York is the largest city in the nation but L.A. is ethnically more diverse. Los Angeles has less government than N.Y. New York has a strong European government system. Greater Los Angeles has 80 different municipal governments of which the City of Los Angeles is the largest. What keeps a society together in L.A. is the participation of the people in organizations and nonprofits."

Dr. Anheier also stressed the importance of cultural institutions such as museums. "There is also the global civil society, which is above the national, such as Amnesty International and Green Cross International."

He then mentioned that California is facing the largest budget cuts in history. "For example," he asked rhetorically, "if a day care center has a 30-40% budget cut, how should they respond? The Center for Civil Society would provide training - executive training programs for nonprofit and NGO leaders. This will be done shortly in the Pacific Rim countries."

Jonathan Friedlander, assistant director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies also met with the visitors. The CNES, he told them, trains M.A.s and Ph.D.s, and has in the past awarded 500 Ph.D.s in all fields. Currently there are 200 doctoral students in different departments doing Middle Eastern studies. "Graduates of the center do important work in embassies and in other institutions around the world."

The visitors were:

  • ALGERIA: Ms. Fatima-Zohra HARIZI, manager, La Rose De L’Ouest (Clothing Company).
  • BAHRAIN: Mr. Nezar Mohamed Ali Isa ALQARI, counseling and employment manager, Ernst & Young.
  • EGYPT: Ms. Heba EL-HADY, lawyer.
  • GAZA: Ms. Lana LULU, project coordinator, Japanese-Funded Grassroots Projects, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.
  • INDIA: Ms. Nuzhat AZIZ, assistant producer, India Today Red (FM Radio).
  • LEBANON: Mr. Ziad Mikhael AKL, president, Youth Association For Social Awareness.
  • MOROCCO: Ms. Nadia LAYACHI, manager, Dotcom Web Agency.
  • OMAN: Ms. Amna Juma ISMAIL, training coordinator, Dyncorp Technical Services.
  • PAKISTAN: Mr. Farooq Ahmad DAR, lecturer, Department of History, Quaid-I-Azam University.
  • SENEGAL: Mr. Serigne Saliou MBACKE, director general, Al-Azhar Group.
  • SOUTH AFRICA: Ms. Firdouza WAGGIE, foundational learning and teaching specialist, University of the Western Cape.
  • TANZANIA: Mr. Mahmoud A.K. MRINGO, councilor, Kimara Ward, and deputy mayor of Kinondoni District.
  • TUNISIA: Mr. Zeid MAHJOUB, deputy director, Ministry of Development and International Cooperation.
  • UGANDA: Mr. Hamed MUGULUMA, public relations officer, World Muslim League.
  • WEST BANK: Mr. Mohammed ODWAN, director of civil affairs, Ministry of Interior.
  • YEMEN: Mr. Adeeb Jaber ALTHOUR, coding and communications officer, Foreign Affairs Office.

UCLA International Institute