IIE Networker - Fall 2011 - (Page 42)
IIE PROGRAM PROFILE
Bulgarian Young Leaders Program: Innovation to Aid National Development
By Emil Levy and Christopher Medalis
THE AMERICA FOR Bulgaria Foundation
(ABF) was initiated in 2008, with an endowment from an investment fund originally set up through the U.S. government–supported Support for East European Democracy Act. The fund’s goals were to aid Bulgaria’s incipient free market and stimulate small and medium enterprise development in the country. ABF supports endeavors to strengthen Bulgaria’s ongoing transition to a market economy and democratic civil society. It supports activities in various fields, including in education, civil society institutions, the arts, cultural heritage and tourism, and economically disadvantaged communities, among others. The Bulgarian Young Leaders Program (BYLP), which the Institute of International Education (IIE) designed and administers on behalf of ABF, identifies Bulgarian undergraduate and graduate students of exceptional caliber, as well as promising civil service professionals, and provides them with scholarship, business, and leadership training in the United States. BYLP represents a strategic and targeted investment on behalf of ABF in the development of the new leadership of Bulgaria in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. IIE facilitates ABF’s goals and vision by designing and delivering three different, yet fully integrated programs, which together comprise the Bulgarian Young Leader Programs. The three BYLP components are the Summer Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), the U.S. Academic Immersion Program (USAIP), and the Junior Civil Servants Training Program (JCSTP). T he Su m mer Ent repreneu rship Program (SEP) aims to nurture future business leaders and entrepreneurs of Bulgaria. The program provides 30 graduate and undergraduate students with a unique five-week entrepreneurship and leadership development program in the United States. During this hands-on, experiential learning mini-MBA program, participants learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship through
intensive tailored business and leadership modules in New York City, Babson College, and the University of California, Berkeley. IIE arranges visits to numerous companies and start-ups, and meetings with entrepreneurs and business executives who provide participants with specialized trainings and presentations. The SEP experience culminates in participants’ development of life and business plans. These plans serve as blueprints for how students can apply what they have learned upon their return to Bulgaria. T he U. S. Ac adem ic Im mersion Program (USAIP) aims to provide academic training to students who hold promise as future leaders in all sectors of Bulgarian society. USAIP is a one-year undergraduate level, non-degree scholarship program that places 20 Bulgarian students in select U.S. colleges and universities. USAIP provides a unique opportunity for talented young Bulgarian students to study at top institutions in the United States, and gain firsthand knowledge of U.S. culture and society. Participants receive a generous scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, books, and travel expenses. Relying on its extensive network of over 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities, IIE places USAIP participants in competitive academic programs in schools ranging from Ivy League institutions (such as Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania) to small liberal arts colleges (such as Juniata College and Elizabethtown College). In addition, IIE helps students acclimate to their new environment, as well as build strong relationships with their host communities. Moreover, throughout the academic year in the U.S., students participate in several academic enrichment and leadership training seminars organized and facilitated by IIE. The Junior Civil Servants Training Program (JCSTP) selects 20 young professionals from the government and nonprofit sectors in Bulgaria and provides them with professional development and training experiences in the United States. Each year,
SEP 2011 participants preparing for their business presentation at Babson College.
according to the priorities of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, IIE designs a customized program for junior professionals from a particular government and NGO sector. In 2010, JCSTP focused on the environmental sector. Thus, 20 young professionals from both the Bulgarian Ministry of the Environment and Water and Bulgarian environmental NGOs partook in a three-week best-practices training session in the United States. In 2011, a group of judges and public prosecutors from Bulgaria’s justice system visited federal, state, and local courts as well as public and private sector institutions dealing with the U.S. legal system. Upon their return to Bulgaria, participants in all three components of BYLP are encouraged to become an active part of the BYLP Alumni Network. The BYLP Alumni Network’s mission and goals are to foster further cooperation and collaboration between young Bulgarians so that they can help one another, as well as to organize training, seminars, and projects that will promote the social and economic development of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Young Leaders Program is an excellent example of innovation through both funding and the long-term commitment made by the America for Bulgaria Foundation to the country’s growth. It is a tailor-made program based on what the country’s youth need today to become future leaders tomorrow. Yet the program goes beyond borders. It not only places participants in the U.S., but gives them a global perspective, intercultural communication skills, and critical thinking opportunities. Ultimately, it enables participants to meld best practices from the U.S. with their knowledge of local realities in Bulgaria. ■ Emil Levy is the Program Manager for the Bulgarian Young Leaders Program. Christopher Medalis is the Director of the Global Scholarship Programs department.
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