Stevens Initiative

Connecting Montana and Egypt in a Global Leadership Initiative

We were one of 18 programs funded by the Stevens Initiative Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. With the $50,000 funding, we spent Summer 2020 preparing to connect students from Montana and Egypt to highlight the importance of citizen diplomacy in a project entitled Connecting Montana and Egypt in a Global Leadership Initiative

This project was implemented in the Fall of 2020 with 24 students from the Global Public Diplomacy class and 24 Egyptian students. The exchange provided Egyptian students an opportunity to engage in citizen diplomacy, learn about U.S. culture, bolster English language skills and intercultural communication, and refine leadership skills. 

Around the world, schools and institutions are using virtual exchanges to help young people develop cross-cultural relationships and vital skills. While traditional in-person education and exchange programs have been canceled due to the pandemic, virtual exchange programs continue to be a sustainable and accessible global learning tool.

“While we cannot predict what lies ahead with the pandemic, we are pleased to work with our grantees to provide virtual exchange opportunities when the world is deeply in need of connection,” said Christine Shiau, managing director of the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute. “Together, we are revamping curriculum, leveraging technology and innovating to build programs that might not have existed otherwise.”

A list of other Stevens Initiative grant recipients is online, with international collaborations focusing on topics ranging from STEM and sustainability to storytelling and nursing.

The Stevens Initiative is an international effort to build global competence and career readiness skills for young people in the U.S., the Middle East, and North Africa by growing and enhancing the field of virtual exchange. Created in 2015 as a lasting tribute to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the initiative is committed to helping expand the virtual exchange field through three pillars of work: investing in promising programs, sharing knowledge and resources and advocating for virtual exchange adoption.

The Stevens Initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with U.S. government funding administered by the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit. It is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.