A Milestone But Not a Finish Line: 20 Years of Muskie
Right now, nearly 5,000 leaders in cities, towns, and villages across Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus are working to advance democracy, spur economic growth, reduce poverty, improve health, bolster community services, protect the environment and human rights, and promote gender equality. These alumni from 20 years of the Muskie Program are using the new technical skills and professional knowledge gained from their studies in the United States to develop their countries and communities. Fifty percent of the alumni are working in the public and non-profit sectors. Together they form a network of change-makers forging strong ties with the United States and improving their societies from the inside.
For 20 years, Muskie has identified, trained, and supported talented practitioners who do the hard work needed to advance democracy and development. The Muskie Program is an internationally respected institution that continues to attract more than 3,000 talented applicants each year to pursue masters-level study at a U.S. university and gain professional and civic skills through internships and community service.
However, more than two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the countries that once comprised that union face circumstances as diverse as they are. Economic stagnation remains a relevant concern throughout the region, while some countries are challenged by conflict that falls along ethnic lines, democratic backsliding and crackdowns on opposition groups. There is much work to be done. That work falls to the individuals best positioned to make positive, lasting change: professionals, current and emerging leaders, those who roll up their sleeves and tackle the greatest policy and community challenges of their time.
That’s why the Muskie Program is so important to the region and why the issues it addresses are so central to the region’s future. In 2012, we’re celebrating a milestone anniversary for the Muskie Program. Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia; Yerbol Orynbaev, Vice Prime Minister of Kazakhstan; and Oksana Boyko, Correspondent at Russia Today are just a few of the many Muskie alumni in prominent leadership/influential positions. Hundreds of dedicated individuals are now chipping away at obstacles to change and are making a difference, people like:
• the Kyrgyz educator who is changing education for the blind,
• the Ukrainian NGO leader who is protecting homeowner rights, and
• the Georgian peacemaker creating opportunities for interaction between youth of different cultural backgrounds.
Over the course of 2012, we’ll highlight many of the current fellows and alumni who are taking innovative approaches to changing their countries for the better and who are solidifying positive ties between Americans and the citizens of Eurasia. Join us in celebrating these achievements throughout 2012 and into the future.