2018 Fulbright Alumna-in-Residence: VIGJILENCA ABAZI

VigjilencaAbazi_headshot.jpg

 

Dr Vigjilenca Abazi is an Emile Nöel Fellow at NYU School of Law and Assistant Professor of European Law at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. She obtained her PhD degree at University of Amsterdam and was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia Law School (2014). Her research on issues of democratic accountability and official secrets resulted in a monograph (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018). Dr Abazi has extensive experience in community projects with Red Cross and non-profit work in interethnic dialogue in Western Balkans. She recently co-founded Stella – Education Mentorship Network focused on improving education and job access for girls and women. On issues of whistleblower and privacy protection, Dr Abazi has been an adviser to the European Union institutions and the Council of Europe. She is a Board member in many leading European academic journals and has more than twenty scientific publications.  Upon invitation, Dr Abazi has given numerous lectures including at Harvard Law School, Columbia University, University of Copenhagen, Sciences Po Paris, Durham University, Bocconi University. She has also been invited to present her research at the European Parliament and the Dutch Parliament. 

 

Project Title:
Stella: Connecting Global Change-makers for Gender Equality

Project Description:
Stella is a project initiated by a group of enthusiastic women working to contribute to improved education and job access for girls and women in Macedonia. The project aims to (1) connect women in general and in higher education, offer personal mentorship, and serve as a dissemination tool for educational and professional opportunities, and (2) through a number of town hall discussions around the country, initiate a nationwide dialogue on the societal and structural challenges we must collectively face in order to support girls and women in their future paths.

Gaps and gender inequality persist as major barriers to human development. Whilst a myriad of initiatives and projects focus on addressing this problem, we do not have sufficient platforms that bring change-makers together around the same table to exchange best practices and lessons toward gender equality. This is especially the case when change-makers operate in different parts of the world, each with their cultural and political specificities, some significantly less developed than others. Yet, fostering dialogue and exchange of knowledge are key to sustainable progress in reaching equality in global terms because: project mistakes can be avoided, creative solutions become locally feasible in more places around the world, new partnerships are formed and financial support is possible for projects that otherwise would not have been funded.

I proposed the Stella platform in collaboration with the Greater New York Chapter of the Fulbright Association to provide this connecting platform for change-makers. The project joins the fields of social entrepreneurship, technology, education and diplomacy with the aim to exchange the most innovative ideas from leading change-makers in how to increase women’s access to: education, jobs, politics. A particular strength of the Stella platform in NY is that it develops in parallel with a project by the Stella team focused on advancing higher education and job access for girls and women in Macedonia, which is financially supported by the US embassy. Stella connects women, offers personal mentorship, and serves as a dissemination tool for educational and professional opportunities. We have joined mentors from a wide range of fields who are successful women of diverse (professional) backgrounds. We also convene 'town hall' style meetings where we bring men into the discussion about structural and societal changes that are needed. As Macedonia still struggles with inter-ethnic dialogue and overcoming ethnic divisions, Stella also has a social/democratic component in that it brings women of different ethnic backgrounds during these meetings, to be inspired and overcome prejudice between the communities by working together. Hence, a key outcome in addition to education and job access is advancing the connections between people and overcoming prejudices and biases.

The Stella platform in NY will serve as a springboard to advance and expand the educational mentorship project in other countries. In doing so, the Stella platform puts into action the core Fulbright mission of fostering mutual understanding between the people of the US and other countries. It fosters a connection among change-makers based in the US and Europe, particularly in the Western Balkans. Stella’s output is expanding globally the support educational network, organising a series of panel discussions and workshops in NY, as well as providing guidelines that will be used in policy-making for gender equality in Macedonia. This output is in line with Stella’s goal to advance the dialogue and efforts on how social entrepreneurship driven initiatives and technology can help with increasing job opportunities and improving working conditions for women (such as creative start-ups, apps that link women for day-care, etc.) as well as motivational and practical tips for women’s increased participation in politics provided by leading female political /diplomatic figures. By supporting this project, the Greater NY Fulbright Chapter increases its own network and visibility, helps promoting local leaders and creative thinkers, and it increases its impact beyond the Fulbright community in New York. In addition to connecting change-makers, Stella creates a bridge between Fulbright alumni in many countries and hence increases the visibility of the NY Chapter activities well beyond the US.

STELLA website: http://stella.mk/ 

2016-2017 Fulbright NY Alumnus-in-Residence: JARED LICINA

In 2009, Jared founded Nascenta, a nonprofit organization that runs diversity workshops based on a lesson structure developed by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) to address the challenges in post-Apartheid South Africa and build an understanding of the prejudices that can drive decision-making. The methodology behind the workshop has garnered IJR the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. Originally from Cape Town in South Africa, Jared witnessed the efficacy of IJR’s methods during a program for student leaders in social societies and student politics at the University of Cape Town in 2002. Inspired by the methodology and effectiveness of the program, Jared developed a similar program targeting high school students, which was run in 2004 and 2005 with support from the Goldman Sachs Foundation. Subsequently, he sought to bring a similar style of training and engagement to New York and the US, through creating Nascenta as a New York not-for-profit organization.

Since then, Nascenta has led the effort in adapting IJR's acclaimed diversity workshops to a US setting and has been at the forefront of delivering flexible, feedback-oriented training that addresses inherent biases.

Nascenta’s workshops teach students about diversity across different categories, as well as the discrimination and prejudice that is sometimes generated around them, and the best ways to understand and fight them. Through careful team-building techniques and open, nonjudgmental discussions, Nascenta seeks to get people to understand their own inherent biases, and the reasons underlying them. The method then teaches them to overcome the biases, both within themselves, as well as within society. Through feedback and a flexible approach, Nascenta customizes the program to adapt to specific communities, new techniques or current issues.

Jared attended NYU for a Masters Degree in Economics on a Fulbright Scholarship and was also a recipient of the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Award. In addition to running Nascenta, Jared also works at Silverpoint Group Holdings, a global private equity firm, and has spent the last 8 years in the hedge fund industry in NYC and Dubai. He has special interests in the structure and efficiency of financial firms, as well as the potential benefits of the financial products in the space of risk management for sovereign and corporate entities. Jared also serves on the Young Professionals Board of The Nature Conservancy, an environmental conservation organization, and One To World, a cultural enrichment program for Fulbright grantees and foreign students in the US.

Nascenta: http://nascenta.org

 

2015-2016 Fulbright NY Alumnus-in-Residence: KEITH ELLENBOGEN

Wine glass hydroids within New York’s underwater seascape. Photo by Keith Ellenbogen.

Keith Ellenbogen is an award-winning underwater photographer with a focus on environmental conservation. He was a U.S. Fulbright Fellow in Malaysia and is currently a Senior Fellow with The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), a Fellow with the Explorers Club, and an Assistant Professor of Photography at FIT/SUNY. Additionally, Keith is a Visiting Artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he is collaboratively developing cutting-edge marine imaging techniques that push the boundaries between art and science. His current project focuses on raising awareness about the vibrant diversity of life within the New York Seascape through vivid and, in many cases, first-ever images of the stunning marine life in New York waters. You can find out more about Keith on his website: http://bluereef.com. We’re looking forward to working with him!

 

2015-2016 Fulbright NY Alumnus-in-Residence Keith Ellenbogen, an acclaimed underwater photographer with an emphasis on environmental conservation.

2014-2015 Fulbright NY Alumna-in-Residence: REBECCA DAVIS

Our 2014-2015 Fulbright NY Alumna-in-Residence, Rebecca Davis, speaking at TEDxFulbright

Our 2014-2015 FAIR resident was entrepreneur and choreographer, Rebecca Davis, who founded MindLeaps. MindLeaps is a not-for-profit organization that creates dance and educational programs for street children and underserved youth in post-conflict and developing programs. MindLeaps uses a kinesthetic-based curriculum to improve the cognitive skills of youth to ensure they can go to school, enter the workplace and leap forward in life. Originally from British Columbia, Rebecca has choreographed and taught in Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea and the United States. She was classically trained in the Russian Vaganova method of ballet while studying in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She received a degree in choreography from The Saint Petersburg Conservatory under the tutelage of Nikolai Boyarchikov (former Artistic Director, The Mussorgsky Ballet). She is a two-time Fulbright scholar and summa cum laude graduate of Temple University with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship. She holds a Masters of International Relations with a concentration in Peacekeeping from American Military University. In 2013, CCTV made a documentary about her work in Rwanda. Rebecca has appeared on The Melissa-Harris Perry Show, given two TEDx talks, and been a guest speaker at several universities, including Brandeis, Brown, Princeton, and University of Michigan. In 2014, she spoke at the United Nations Association Film Festival and was featured in Project M magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Magazine, The Good Service Magazine and on Voice of America radio.

LINKS:

www.mindleaps.org
facebook.com/mindleaps
youtube.com/rebeccadavisdance
@MindLeaps

CCTV's documentary Faces of Africa: Dance up from the street
Rebecca on The Melissa-Harris Perry Show
Rebecca Davis' TEDxFulbright talk

Pictured at right, Rebecca Davis teaches youth in the MindLeaps program in Rwanda. MindLeaps uses a kinesthetic-based curriculum to improve the cognitive skills of youth to ensure they can go to school, enter the workplace and leap forward in life. 

Inaugural Fulbright NY Alumnus-in-Residence (2013-2014): JEREMY XIDO

Filmmaker and Fulbright alumnus Jeremy Xido, and his award winning documentary film, Death Metal Angola, was selected as the inaugural FAIR program awardee (2013-2014). The film tells the story of Sonia Ferreira, a survivor of 27 years of war, lover of rock music, and mother to 55 orphans, as she and her partner, the death metal musician Wilker Flores, mount Angola’s first-ever national rock concert. Their dream is to help their country recover from decades of war…through the power of music. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/31745127

Dubbed “raucously crowd pleasing” by the Hollywood Reporter, a “cult classic in the making” by the Huffington Post and “a beautifully shot, superb film” by indieWIRE, Death Metal Angola has screened for sell-out crowds at dozens of film festivals around the world and had its NYC premiere on November 16th at the prestigious DOC NYC Festival along with a panel discussion on Filming Outside Your Turf: Case Studies on Resilience on November 18th at the IFC Center, with directors Jeremy Xido (Death Metal Angola), fellow Fulbrighter Lisa Biagiotti (deepsouth), and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia). 

The Greater New York Chapter launched the FAIR program in 2013 to incubate New York-based alumni projects that embody the Fulbright mission of international understanding, through thematic programming throughout the year as well as mentoring and support. Jeremy Xido and his film DEATH METAL ANGOLA film were pivotal in launching this program, which has been a resounding success, from the initial presentation of the trailer at one of our chapter’s salons, to numerous screenings and subsequent awards, community roundtables and events, and eventually the film's theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles. During this time, Jeremy was also an Arts Envoy with the State Department, conveying cultural understanding and ambassadorship through art. He was subsequently invited to give an electrifying TEDxFulbright talk that traced the path of slave trading from Angola to Portugal to the US, and juxtaposed it with his own personal experiences of Detroit and Angola.

Our 2013-2014 Fulbright NY Alumnus-in-Residence, Jeremy Xido, speaking at TEDxFulbright

The DMA Resilience Tour

In partnership with the Fulbright Alumnus-in-Residence (FAIR) program, the DMA RESILIENCE TOUR was created. The tour is a community development program involving screenings and town halls in cities that have been hit hard by economic and natural disasters. It's about how we can rebuild from the devastation of economic deprivation, crime and/or natural disaster. The tour includes Fulbright preview screenings and town halls on resilience in Los Angeles, Washington, DC and New York.

PAST SCREENINGS:

Los Angeles: November 7th-13th at AMC Burbank Town Center 8 (Special Fulbright screening/town hall on Nov 9th)
Washington, D.C.: Special Fulbright screening/town hall on November 19th at the Landmark
New York: November 21st-23rd at Cinema Village (Special Fulbright screening/town hall on November 22nd) 

LINKS:

DMA's partnership with Fulbright Association's Greater New York Chapter & the FAIR program:http://bit.ly/FAIRDMApost
Jeremy Xido's TEDxFulbright talk: http://youtu.be/RblakAuoG8c
DEATH METAL ANGOLA website: www.deathmetalangola.com
DEATH METAL ANGOLA Trailer: https://vimeo.com/31745127

PRESS FOR DEATH METAL ANGOLA:

“Jeremy Xido’s Death Metal Angola : A Cult Classic in the Making”  Huffington Post

“Absorbing, beautifully shot documentary. I predict a long festival life, if not more, for Xido’s superb film”  Indiewire

“Raucously crowd pleasing, enticingly exotic, clangorous, rousingly energetic, promising big-screen debut for Detroit-born globetrotter Jeremy Xido”  The Hollywood Reporter

FULBRIGHT ASSOCIATION & DEATH METAL ANGOLA PRESS HIGHLIGHTS:

Featured in the Daily Beast mentioning Fulbright & Resilience Tour campaign: http://thebea.st/1d5Jyri
Featured in in MusicFilmWeb: http://bit.ly/DMAmusicfilmweb
Featured in DNAInfo (Greater NY Chapter is quoted): http://bit.ly/DMAdna

JEREMY XIDO’S BIO

Originally from Detroit, Jeremy graduated cum laude in Painting and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York and trained at the Actor’s Studio. Since 2003 he has been the artistic co-director of the performance and film company CABULA6, which was voted "Company of the Year 2009" by Europe's prestigious performance magazine, Ballettanz, and awarded "Outstanding Artist of the Year 2010" by the Austrian Ministry of the Arts. CABULA6 has produced and presented work for both film and stage all over the world. Jeremy’s film directing credits include the award winning feature documentary DEATH METAL ANGOLA, the six part CRIME EUROPE series, and the short documentary MACONDO in addition to several short fiction films. He is known in Europe as a performance artist with a unique artistic voice and approach to stage and film, blending emotionally gripping personal stories with the larger social contexts within which they emerge – including the recent trilogy THE ANGOLA PROJECT which premiered at Impulstanz in Vienna and PS122 in New York. Working as a dancer, actor and filmmaker, he has performed and presented work around the world on stage, TV and in Cinema.  He speaks English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese and is based in Harlem, NYC. For more info, go to www.xido.org