Inlägg taggade med ’diversity’

Overcoming prejudice, building bridges and learning from others

In November – December 2012, I had the honor of being chosen as the Swedish representative to the International Visitor®s Leadership Program. The IVLP is hosted by the US State Department. Together with representatives from 18 other European countries, we got the chance to study US Foreign Policy Challenges in various aspects and on different levels in the US. We were 5 women and 14 men in the group totally, but the US “go-for-it” attitude made up for it. Don’t hold yourself back, just move forward!

The group was an interesting mix of elected officials, military men, journalists and policy makers like me. We got the chance to see and have business meetings with our US counterparts in Washington DC, New York City, Sacramento and San Francisco. There was also, in the middle of the journey, a group split with more individual programs, specially designed to fit our professional background. I got the chance to go to Georgia, visiting Atlanta and Blue Ridge.

In Atlanta, I met with political representatives from various parts of the US political arena and professors at the university. I also had the chance to visit the home town of Martin Luther King, which to me was one of the highlights. The demand for reconciliation and building bridges to overcome prejudices is as important now as it was in the past. People migrate for many reasons, and you can’t tell a person’s background just by judging him or her by their appearance.

”Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status …” (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Easily said, not so easily done. But in my opinion, this is the fundamental base for building security from the micro level. Discrimination and abuse wrongly backed by doctrine are damaging to society as a whole. One great role model of how to live these high standards in real life is the former US president Jimmy Carter. My experience at the Jimmy Carter Center was something extraordinary. His struggle, all around the world, for freedom and human rights, is an extraordinary political achievement. A great man whom I need to learn more from and about. A humble man, and a great inspirer. Because he lives the dream and the mission of struggling for human dignity and freedom.

What did I learn from this trip? A lot, much more than is possible to write down in a few comments on a blog. But if I could summarize, I have a deeper understanding of the importance of learning from others, and exchanging “best practices” in a globalized world. We are more dependent on others than we perhaps tend to admit in these hard times of global recession. Democracy and freedom must be the base on where you build true security upon. And we need to seek global solutions to challenges that might seem to be just domestic.

-Policy Advisor

 

 

Publicerad den 27 januari, 2013 av Specialbloggare
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