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University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Matt Orr (’14) partnered with Sarus, a non-profit organization based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that fosters peace and understanding between its participants, to create a feasibility study for an exchange program between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Since 2010, Sarus has been operating in Cambodia, Japan, and Vietnam.
The exchange program would take young women leaders from each country and bring them together for a collaborative service learning experience, while also creating a community between the leaders that fosters cultural appreciation, leadership development, and open communication as a means of conflict transformation.
“This would be the first ever exchange program between Bangladesh and Myanmar,” said Sarus founder and director Wesley Hedden. “Matt’s project has allowed us to more clearly and systematically understand our current and potential impact on participants, partners, and communities.”
Orr began his project in August 2013 with the intention of providing Sarus a comprehensive study of the potential exchange program between Bangladesh and Myanmar from five angles: context, financial, operational, partners, and security.
Through the course of Orr’s study he contacted 166 potential stakeholders from five stakeholder categories: educational institutions, funding partners, government institutions, knowledge partners, and service project partners. These stakeholders will continue to provide a framework of knowledge and resources for Sarus to utilize in constructing and implementing the exchange program.
Last October, Orr and Sarus staff embarked on a three-week trip to Bangladesh and Myanmar in order to meet with potential partners for the exchange. While on their trip, they met with 38 organizations, of which 16 have since become committed stakeholders due to Orr’s outreach and subsequent stakeholder development activities.
“Sarus now has a chance to move to the next level by implementing a new exchange program in two countries where it can have a huge impact,” said Sokchannaroath Heng, Sarus Cambodia program coordinator. “We are now known by many stakeholders in Bangladesh and Myanmar, before this project Sarus had only one partner in each country.”
As a returned Peace Corps (Ukraine ‘09-’11) volunteer, Orr has several years of experience working in the field of international development. Before beginning his capstone project with Sarus, Orr spent the past summer in Thailand developing a project-based learning curriculum for a democratic school. He has a proven commitment to initiatives that involve creating better opportunities for youth in both domestic and international contexts.
“Through my project with Sarus I was able to gain insight into international peace-building efforts and the complexities of conflict,” Orr said. “This experience also gave me an opportunity to help Sarus build organizational capacity so that they can continue to address the urgent need for peace in the places where they work.”
Orr’s project with Sarus is the final of three required field service projects he has completed in the Clinton School’s Master of Public Service program. The program is designed to create leaders with expertise in the non-profit, government, and private sectors.
More information about Sarus is available at http://sarusprogram.org
Clinton School student André Breaux (’14) has spent the academic year working full-time as a graduate fellow for the Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento, Calif. Breaux has been working with the Mayor’s education nonprofit Stand Up to support the organization’s national mobilization and government affairs initiatives.
As his Capstone project, the last of three field service requirements in the Master of Public Service degree program, Breaux supported ongoing coalition building among some of Sacramento’s most prominent education reform organizations, including Stand Up, StudentsFirst, Teach For America, and Parent Revolution.
Through his project work, Breaux facilitated meetings, planned events, and conducted research on education reform advocacy. His final report documents the coalition’s development and provides recommendations for building greater collective impact.
Breaux is the first Clinton School student to receive a fellowship with Mayor Johnson’s Office. Other schools that have participated in the fellowship program include the Harvard School of Business, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, UCLA, and UC Davis.
“André provided the high level capacity we expect of our fellows,” said Mariah Sheriff, the Mayor’s Deputy Director of Education. “We hope that other Clinton School students will apply for this fellowship in future years.”
Breaux completed all requirements of his second year in the Master of Public Service program while in Sacramento. He will graduate in May.
About the Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson:
Mayor Kevin Johnson is the 55th mayor of the City of Sacramento and the first native Sacramentan to hold this office. He was elected to a second term in June 2012. As First Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Johnson is a national advocate for mayoral involvement in public education.
A team of graduate students conducted best practice research on collaboration tools and practices to help strengthen the collective efforts of state, faith-based, and nonprofit health-serving organizations across the state of Arkansas.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students Romerse Biddle of Magnolia, Ark., Quiana Brown of New Orleans, La., Ben Croner of Potomac, Md., and Antoinette Schicchi of Dania Beach, Fla. spent the past year collecting data on best practice techniques among southern consortiums and interviewing health leaders in the state to learn more about collaborative techniques and how best to implement those tools.
The information that was collected produced several themes, including governance, communication, and strategic planning from which the consortium can continue to build upon its structure.
“The outcome of this work will help us in strengthening the existing relationships of the organizations that are members of the consortium,” said Idonia L. Trotter, Executive Director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and facilitator of the Arkansas Minority Health Consortium. “This will go a long way to make sure that the consortiums’ health policy advocacy efforts, educational seminars, and community outreach continue to make a significant impact in health awareness of Arkansans.”
The Clinton School team will present the results of their efforts at the 3rd Biennial Arkansas Minority Health Summit on April 18, 2014 at Philander Smith College.
About the Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC)
AMHC was formed in 1991 by the Arkansas General Assembly as a comprehensive state health agency whose goal is to be a catalyst in bridging the gap in the health status of the minority population in Arkansas. To achieve this goal AMHC focuses on addressing existing disparities in minority communities, educating these communities on healthier lifestyles, promoting awareness of services and accessibility within the current healthcare system.
About the Arkansas Minority Health Consortium
In 2001, the Consortium was formed as a result of the state government’s desire to improve the legislative collaborative process among public policy partners, especially in advocating for change among minority populations. It is comprised of over fifty faith based, government, religious, and non-profit organizations.
Dr. Arvind Singhal is the recipient of the 2014 Elizabeth G. Andersch award for outstanding teaching, scholarship, & mentorship in the communication discipline. Formerly an Ohio University Communication Studies Professor, Dr. Singhal is now a William J. Clinton fellow of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas, as well as professor and director of the Department of Communication at the University of Texas.
Dr. Singhal recently sat down with host Prosper Tsikata to discuss his research in entertainment-education strategy, social change, and the untypical journey into his professional life, starting with saying “no” to Stanford.
Listen to the entire interview here.
University of Arkansas Clinton School student, Jacob Perry of Fayetteville, Ark., partnered with Balkan Sunflowers, an organization primarily focusing on Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in Kosovo, to help provide better health services to three minority populations.
Together with Balkan Sunflowers staff Perry performed an exhaustive literature review of all data available on the health issues of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in Kosovo to identify key areas of interest for further investigation to inform Kosovo’s pending national health insurance scheme. Based on these focus areas, he assisted in designing studies that will evaluate the need for specific services in these communities and the economic impact on the health insurance scheme.
Perry also produced a report highlighting the significant findings of his literature review that will be used for advocacy efforts. Balkan Sunflowers plans to share the report, along with findings from the proposed studies, with other civil society organizations working with Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians, and also governmental agencies charged with policy creation and implementation concerning these populations.
“To my knowledge no one has compiled a review of all the available health data on Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in Kosovo, and this is something we Roma need,” said Avni Mustafa, the production coordinator for Balkan Sunflowers’ film LIVES. “Now we have a single document to take to people and organizations and say, ‘look, here’s our situation. We’ve got to do something.”
Balkan Sunflowers is an organization founded in 1999 to aid Kosovar refugees and seeks to promote understanding, further non-violent conflict transformation, and celebrate the diversity of the lives and cultures of the Balkan region. Balkan Sunflowers is one of the many partners engaged in Kosana, a project by Suisse Solidar to inform Kosovo’s pending national health insurance system in order to best serve the citizens of Kosovo.
The student’s capstone project is the culminating field course at the Clinton School, the last of three field service projects in the Master of Public Service degree program.
Jordan Aibel (’13) has accepted a position with Lotus Impact, a fund which actively invests in private enterprises which help address social and environmental problems with solutions that generate sustainable income and employment. The fund will invest in businesses in Vietnam, Mynamar, Laos and Cambodia, with a specific focus on enterprises providing clean water, sanitation, off-grid electrification and professional development. Jordan will be working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where the fund is based.
Second-year Clinton School of Public Service students spoke Monday, April 7th in the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science to highlight their international health-related service projects completed during the summer of 2013.
The panel coincided with the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and served as a reminder of how public health is inextricably tied to conflict across the globe. Don Simpson, Ph.D., MPH, the acting Director of the Office of Global Health at UAMS offered introductory remarks and a brief presentation regarding the current public health issues facing world citizens, including the ever-increasing threats of malaria and dengue.
Dr. Ellen Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor and Director of International Programs at the Clinton School of Public Service discussed highlights of the International Program Service Project (IPSP) at the Clinton School and then introduced the four student panelists to the audience. Nicole Maddox shared her experience evaluating the effectiveness of treatment and diagnosis guidelines with respect to patient outcomes for cancer at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital in Kenya. Angela Bukenya discussed her project identifying and recruiting educational nutrition related NGOs to build short or long term partnerships with the Nepal Nutrition Foundation. Alex Handfinger, a concurrent Master of Public Service and Master of Public Health student, explained his project developing an agronomic and nutrition food plan for 250 students at Hope North School in Uganda. Jenna Rhodes, also a concurrent Master of Public Service/Master of Public Health (MPS/MPH) student, worked with local residents and a medical NGO in a small town in Nicaragua to determine the current eating and cooking choices through interviews in order to develop a nutrition curriculum.
Questions from the audience for the panelists ranged from whether or not positive deviants were identified in the four countries represented to how influential Western diet and culture was impacting the rate of obesity. “It was great to hear more about the amazing things my classmates had accomplished,” said Marisa Nelson, a current Clinton School student and audience member. “Repeatedly the panelists discussed the need for community engagement and involvement in program development and evaluation. The ability to effectively do this is essential for any public servant, and discussions that further that capacity are appreciated – and necessary.”
The most interesting questions revolved around the biggest surprises and lessons learned in working with people from around the world. “My biggest revelation was that residents in my small rural town weren’t sad, miserable, starving people even though they live at a level that most anyone would consider impoverished. I went in to the experience with these ideas and expectations that were almost immediately shattered,” said Jenna Rhodes, presenter and current Clinton School student. “They had vibrant communities and simple homes full not of things, but relationships. By the time I left I was envious of the rich and peaceful lives that my newly made friends were living.”
A graduate student conducted research to help Imbuto Foundation implement the Early Childhood Development policy that was passed by the Rwanda government in September 2011.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Immaculee Kayitare of Kigali, Rwanda spent the past 3 months creating a data collection system of the pilot Early Childhood Development center in order to allow monitoring and future evaluations and as well as researching creative ways to make the center self-sustainable.
The student created indicators to assess the impact of the center to the 146 children and 100 parents that attend it and created several tools such as home visit files, children files, and report templates that will facilitate the collection of data and its analysis.
The outcome of the student’s work will be fundamental. ECD Kayonza is a reference center therefore the tools that the student developed will be replicated and scaled up throughout the country, said Gladys Mutavu, Early Childhood Development Project Officer.
Imbuto Foundation is an NGO presided by the first lady of Rwanda, her Excellency Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, to serve disadvantaged Rwandans mainly youth, women, and children. Imbuto fulfills its mission through advocacy, community outreach, mentorship, fostering partnerships and unleashing young talent.
Kayitare presented the results of her research to the Director General of Imbuto Foundation on January 6.
Kayitare completed the project as part of the Clinton School’s Capstone program, the last of the three field service projects in the Masters of Public Service degree program.
About Early Childhood Development Policy:
The Early Childhood Policy aims to have all children in Rwanda reach their full potential physically, mentally, socio-emotionally and cognitively. Mothers, fathers, guardians, caregivers and the entire community must assume their supportive, nurturing, stimulating and protective responsibilities for a child to be healthy, well nourished, safe, mentally alert, stable, sociable, and ready to learn.
Imbuto Foundation developed and implemented an integrated community-based Early Childhood Development model center addressing cognitive stimulation and school readiness of 0-3 year olds and 4-6. This initiative was financial supported by One UN. UNICEF collaborated with Imbuto Foundation to set up the first facility for integrated early childhood development services in the district of Kayonza (Eastern Province) and elaborated a design for the physical structure of this model.