The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) welcomed this year’s participants of the study tour “Promoting Tolerance” for a reception in Washington, DC to celebrate the 25th year of this flagship dialogue program. Claus Gramckow, Representative USA and Canada for the Transatlantic Dialogue Program of FNF and Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs at AJC introduced the program and participants to the friends and partners of the FNF. Participants made many valuable professional connections with people who work in their areas of expertise, including government, nonprofit and trade experts, as well as members of the diplomatic community in Washington, DC.
The study program “Promoting Tolerance” was founded by the AJC and FNF in 1992. Each year, the FNF regional offices select young leaders in politics, think tanks, academia and civil society organizations from the regions of Central Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and Central Asia to participate in the program that consists of three parts: An online seminar with useful basic texts on minority integration and human rights policies; an international seminar in Europe which brings the participants together to both discuss the problems they face in their respective countries in combating intolerance and to develop methods for addressing the situation; and a study trip to the United States that offers an opportunity to become familiar with the American models of inter-ethnic coexistence. Politicians and civil society workers in the United States have long been engaged in developing strategies to promote pluralism and mutual understanding between multiethnic and religious communities. The Promoting Tolerance study program and visit to the United States offers the participants an opportunity to become familiar with models of inter-ethnic and interfaith cooperation in major cities throughout the U.S.
The program’s most valuable component is its participants. In 2017, the participants in Promoting Tolerance included politicians, journalists, economists, historians, and civil society workers. Many of the participants are both the leaders and founders of organizations in their home regions. They are investigative reporters, economic analysts, community organizers, and advocates for minority rights. All participants are involved in promoting innovative approaches to democracy building, strengthening civil society, and political participation in their home countries. The program in Washington, DC and the many opportunities to network provided a great starting point for the study tour. After their stay in Washington, DC, the group traveled to New York City before splitting into three groups to travel to Cincinnati, OH, Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX and Miami, FL for weekend programs organized by the AJC Chapter headquartered in each city. Following these visits, participants reconvened together in Chicago, IL for the final days of the program.
Anne-Marie Simon, Program Assistant, Transatlantic Dialogue Program, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom