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>  News Releases >   2002 >   January

Youth Leadership Program brings Bosnian and Herzegovinan students, teachers to Dartmouth

Posted 01/10/02

How can teenagers in a country torn apart by ethnic warfare find hope for their future? What can educators do to encourage young people to take initiative as leaders in their own communities?

These questions are the focus of the Youth Leadership Program, a project of the U.S. Department of State that will be conducted this winter by the Dartmouth Department of Education. Dartmouth will host a multiethnic group of 18 high school students and four teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina Jan. 9 through 31 to explore the principles of leadership and community activism at sites around the Northeast.

At Dartmouth, the visiting students will meet with faculty members, join in community service projects, and attend the Dartmouth-Princeton basketball game, as well as participate in a variety of activities centered around democracy, diversity and skills for social change. Dartmouth undergraduates will serve as mentors, leading activities and providing instruction while connecting on a personal level with the visiting students.

In the community, students will visit local high schools, speaking to their American counterparts about Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will also tour local businesses and stay with volunteer host families, giving participants an introduction to economic and domestic life in the United States. Topping the list of outside events will be a week in Boston, a visit to New York City and statehouse meetings with New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

"We're trying to communicate a sense of the skills and motivation the students need to be active members of a developing democracy," said Josh Thomas '00, Coordinator for the Youth Leadership Program, who also works at Dartmouth with the Episcopal campus ministry. "We want to introduce them to a broad spectrum of people and groups on campus and in the community, in the hopes that the students will have a substantial pool of resources to draw on when they return."

Thomas notes that Bosnia and Herzegovina is suffering an exodus of talented young people who see little opportunity within their own country. He believes that connecting the participants with American youth who have overcome obstacles and are now committed to their communities can help develop hope for the future.

Andrew Garrod, Associate Professor and Chair of Education, who led the effort to bring the participants to Dartmouth, says the four teachers traveling with the students will also benefit from the program. Teachers will meet with colleagues at area high schools, discuss administrative and teaching practices, and observe college-level courses at Dartmouth in subject areas that interest them.

"Throughout their visit the teachers will have the opportunity to refine their roles as mentors, coaches and advocates for youth-initiated community projects," Garrod said. "During the final phases of the program they'll be taking over the role of facilitating and planning final projects to take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina upon their return."

Garrod notes that the goal of the Youth Leadership Program is to prepare students and teachers for the ongoing work of implementing democracy in their native land and to help heal the rift between the Serb, Croat and Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] populations who fought against one another in the early 1990s.

"As a setting for participants' American experience, Dartmouth offers an ideal range of social, educational, intellectual and recreational opportunities," Garrod said.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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