The Fellowship Programme
“What really changed my worldview is the fact that I found more similarities than I did differences in cultures. I was seeing things in Morocco that I recognized from my childhood.”
Aaron Morison, U.S.A., 2013 EUNA cohort
“This Fellowship helped me overcome biases that I was not aware of and breaking all the stereotypes. The irony is that it was not breaking stereotypes between East and West, it was breaking stereotypes between us as MENA fellows.”
Sofana Dahlan, Saudi Arabia, 2011 MENA cohort
“It was amazing because we visited three Muslim countries, Morocco, Egypt and Qatar, and it was really interesting to see that even if those three countries share the same religion they don’t have the same practice.”
Fatoumata Kebe, France, 2015 EUNA cohort
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) was established in 2005 as a special political initiative of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, co-sponsored by the Governments of Spain and Turkey. A High-Level Group of experts was formed by the Secretary-General to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures, and recommend a practical programme of action to address the issue. The Report of the High-Level Group provided analysis and put forward practical recommendations, which forms the core of the UNAOC implementation plan. In 2013, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser became UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, operating with the UNAOC Secretariat from New York City.
The UNAOC Fellowship Programme was launched in 2010 with the aim to build bridges between cultures and societies through dialogue and cooperation, and to reinforce the global commitment to live together in mutual tolerance and respect. The Programme was created to recognize the need for better understanding between peoples and societies from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America. The UNAOC Fellowship Programme has been supported over the years by the Governments of Azerbaijan, Egypt, Germany, Morocco, Spain and Qatar, and the League of Arab States.
The Fellowship Programme aims at fostering intercultural exchange and interfaith understanding by engaging with young civil society leaders and professionals from Europe, North-America (EUNA), the Middle East and North-Africa (MENA). Framed around two-week exchange trips between EUNA and MENA countries, the Programme sends participants from each geographic area to their counterparts’ region.
The Fellowship provides participants with first hand exposure to diversity and with the opportunity to experience cultural immersion while interacting with a wide range of local actors and partners. In every country visited, participants are being provided with crucial comprehension tools to help them understand the plurality of their surroundings, and to get an extensive grasp of host countries’ culture, politics, society, religion, media and more.
By exposing participants to new ideas and perspectives, and by immersing them into culturally diverse environments, the Fellowship Programme aims at challenging perceptions and deconstructing stereotypes. Building on that, participants become then better equipped to position themselves as informed stakeholders and to develop cross-cultural partnerships while bridging divides between peoples from different faiths and cultures.
The Selection Process
Participants are selected for their potential in shaping opinion and taking strong initiatives within their community. In their applications, candidates have to demonstrate a strong interest – backed by concrete ideas – to engage with peers and partners from the countries they are going to visit, and propose positive and innovative models of intercultural cooperation.
Candidates have to show a level of professional accomplishment in intercultural dialogue and in the theme chosen by UNAOC, through their involvement in politics, civil society, media, local community organizations, faith based associations, grassroots initiatives, academia, think-tanks, arts, and any other fields relevant to the objectives of the Fellowship Programme.
Applicants have to meet two eligibility criteria in order to apply. They have to be nationals of EUNA or MENA countries and be between 25 and 35 years old.