Charito Kruvant (Washington, DC)
In the world of global development, we build bridges. At times these bridges are literal structures that bind two communities. More often, the bridges we construct extend across continents and oceans to connect people in a personal way.
I was reminded of these vital interpersonal bridges as I read a very warm and engaging blog post by Della Bradt, who wrote it prior to traveling from Washington, D.C., to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as part of a special program America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA).
“I first decided to apply to the program because I want an experience living in a foreign country,” Della says in her blog post. “I know this will test my limits and it certainly won’t be easy to live in a place I have only learned about from behind my laptop, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Della has settled in at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, where she is enjoying the experience. I am sure it is a two-way street for the residents of Yogyakarta.
Della is very typical of the people who volunteer for the AUA: Dynamic, energetic and a bridge builder.
AUA, a citizen diplomacy initiative dedicated to increasing the number of Americans who volunteer in the Muslim countries, is a unique program by Creative Learning, our nonprofit sister organization in the nation’s capital. From archaeologists to engineers, Unofficial Ambassadors volunteer with grassroots organizations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
As volunteers, Unofficial Ambassadors form people-to-people partnerships through their service that build cooperation between America and the Muslim World. Upon their return, volunteers work to foster cross-cultural understanding at home by sharing their experiences with the public through blogs and community presentations.
Constructing bridges—physical or cultural—builds peace. And with peace, we can have the opportunity to grow, engage and build our own bridges.
Charito Kruvant is President & CEO of Creative Associates International.