Pictured: A past Professional Fellows delegation visits Toledo in 2019.
Fifteen European delegates will arrive in Toledo this Thursday to connect with local leaders, begin internships, and learn governance practices that they may use to benefit their communities back home.
The delegation arrives Sept. 22 and is part of the U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows program, hosted by the Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development (GLC) and Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP). Delegates are from Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia and will be in the U.S. for six weeks. The delegates are all young professionals who have an interest in community organizing and citizen involvement in governance and are seeking to learn how to connect with government, business, media, and other leaders to support community needs.
The delegation will be welcomed Sept. 23 at a community event organized by the World Affairs Council of Northwest Ohio and taking place 5-8 p.m. at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg. Guests will be welcomed by World Affairs Council president Bill Hilt and former Ohio State Representative and Toledo City Council member Peter Ujvagi. Hosts and delegates will share their interest and work in supporting the delegates’ neighboring country, Ukraine.
The delegation’s northwest Ohio visit also includes meetings at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library with Toledo Board of Education member Sheena Barnes and community organizer Ramon Perez. Delegates will also learn about local services for immigrants provided by the city, county, library system, and volunteers. The group will also participate in the 20th anniversary of the Woodland Indian Celebration, Sept. 24 at the Seven Eagles Historical Education Center in Grand Rapids, Ohio, and learn about Native American traditions and culture from Martin Nagy, executive director of the Arts Council Lake Erie West.
After their stay in Toledo, the delegation will travel to Chicago, then each delegate will travel to different host sites throughout the U.S. for a tailored internship suited to each delegate’s interests. One of the delegates, Riges Beqiri from Albania, will spend his time locally at Shores & Islands Ohio in Sandusky to learn about enhancing sustainable tourism and engaging community partners to protect the lake and environment.
Delegates will conclude with a gathering at the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C., before returning to their home countries.
The Great Lakes Consortium for International Training & Development is a collaborative effort of Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, The University of Toledo and GLCAP. Since 2012, GLC has offered the Professional Fellows Program, allowing 300 European delegates to take part. For more information on the program or GLC, visit www.glcap.org/international.