On Friday, April 22nd, BU HHHP Director (and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior) Jack McCarthy led a second joint session on leadership development for BU and MIT Humphrey Fellows. Whereas the first session was hosted by MIT, this one was hosted by the Questrom School of Business. This was the first time in the Questrom School’s history when a joint seminar was conducted for MIT and BU Fellows together.
In this session, entitled Leading into the Future: A Vision of Our Leadership, McCarthy guided the participants in examining the ways in which our vision of the future shapes our leadership and guides our career and life trajectories.
McCarthy explained why creativity is one of the most sought-after capacities that CEOs look for in new employees. All participants then engaged in exercises that helped to assess their occupational interests, character types, and whether they gravitated to dependent, independent, or interdependent activities.
The session concluded with a discussion of how Fellows’ past and present leadership successes, failures, and lessons served as a context for future commitments, growth, and desired change to enrich our lives and to help make our world a better place.
On Friday, April 8th, HHHP Director (and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior) Jack McCarthy gave his first of two sessions on leadership development at MIT for both BU and MIT Humphrey Fellows. This was the first time in the Program’s long history to conduct seminars on leadership with BU and MIT Humphrey Fellows together.
This first session was entitled Leading Today: The Leadership Challenge in Turbulent Times. It addressed the challenges of effective leadership in the context of changing times, turbulence, and great complexity. Personal leadership capabilities were discussed and explored as a platform for understanding the growth and development needs that each Fellow should pursue throughout their Fellowship year and beyond.
Attendees then undertook an exercise in which they first wrote down and then discussed their perceived leadership strengths and weaknesses. They then shared stories of situations in which their leadership was tested, followed by an exploration of the underlying values that they found expressed within those stories. When the audience regrouped, Jack highlighted that our struggle to lead in accordance with our values usually happens because our weaknesses get in the way. He concluded the session by emphasizing that, in a VUCA world, building the meta-competencies of self awareness and the willingness to change are more critical to leadership development than simply continuing to advance one’s professional expertise.
On April 15th, MIT hosted us and the Cornell Humphrey Program at its Endicott House in Dedham for a full-day joint workshop focused on re-entry. In April of last year, the three programs had gathered at MIT’s Cambridge campus for a dinner and sessions focused on the same theme—and we all had agreed it was a great initiative that needed more time to implement well.
Our day began at 9am, with introductory remarks by the coordinators and then an exercise led by BU HHHP director Jack McCarthy, in which everyone paired up and introduced themselves to one another.
We then went outside for “Pipeline”, a group problem solving & communication exercise in which teams race to transport marbles down lengths of half pipe or gutters and into a cup. Each participant has only one short length of pipe each, and no one may carry the marbles; the marbles must advance by gravity alone.
After lunch, we all divided into groups to discuss “The Process of Reentry” by Professor Gary Weaver of American University.
This joint workshop served in both tangible and intangible ways. The sessions facilitated focused reflection and discussion about the challenges of returning home, and Fellows also appreciated the gathering of three cohorts; there is a euphoria that fills a room full of Humphrey Fellows, and that magnified by a factor of three gave everyone a warm and powerful sense of ceremony to help contemplate the past year and start shifting their focus to the road ahead.
On Saturday, April 2nd, Ken and Louise MacDonald hosted a pizza party for the Fellows and Program staff, which was sponsored by the host families and organized by Doris Kellom, at their home in Waban, MA.
The unseasonal, wintry rain kept us from going outside and enjoying the picturesque yard and pond behind the MacDonalds’ house, but the atmosphere inside was warm and cozy. By this point in the year, the Fellows and host families know one other well, and everyone was happy to be together as we enter the final stretch of the Fellowship year. Adding to the ambience, the MacDonalds have a large living room with a working fireplace—and we spent much of the afternoon there laughing our way through trivia games. We also celebrated the birthday of Carmen Aldinger, a host of BU Humphrey Fellows since 2002.
We thank the MacDonalds, Doris Kellom, and all of the participating host families for organizing this memorable gathering.
On Friday, April 1st, we visited the headquarters of National Geographic Learning (NGL) in South Boston—where current Fellow Fozilet Simoni (Albania) has just begun a Professional Affiliation (PA).
NGL is a rising star in the world of educational publishing, especially in the area of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This makes it a highly appealing organization for Fellows who specialize in education to undertake their PAs, and NGL has kindly hosted BU Fellows since 2013. In 2014, NGL further joined the U.S. Department of State in sponsoring Ricardo Mendieta (2013–2014) to run a photo essay camp in Nicaragua.
This site visit represented the first opportunity for a cohort of Humphrey Fellows to meet with NGL executives. It was exciting for everyone, particularly as the missions of NGL and HHHP are so similar. NGL’s motto is “bringing the world to the classroom and the classroom to life”; Publisher Sherrise Roehr added that NGL also strives to “help people build a better world for themselves and their families.” HHHP Director Jack McCarthy underscored that our program is designed to promote open, mutual exchange between Fellows and Americans and to accelerate Fellows’ development as global leaders. It was a wonderfully engaging meeting for all. We are grateful to our friends at NGL and look forward to continuing the relationship.
On March 25th, the first-ever Joint Symposium on Financial Inclusion, entitled Wealth, Poverty, and Opportunity in the 21st Century, was hosted by the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. The event was co-organized by the BU Humphrey Fellowship Program and the Center for Finance, Law & Policy, with collaboration from the Business Administration Department at Bunker Hill Community College.
Over two billion people—nearly a third of the entire human race—live outside the formal financial sector. In many developing and emerging economies, the percentage of those who are financially excluded is considerably higher. Expanding financial access is essential to any global strategy for eradicating poverty and promoting justice and economic growth. In this Symposium, Fellows shared stories of financial inclusion from their respective countries. Topics included informal savings and credit mechanisms, facilitating connections between the formal and informal financial sectors, economic and social empowerment through financial inclusion and entrepreneurship, and financial education and literacy. The participants expressed hope that the knowledge shared and created during the Symposium would inspire further initiatives that expand financial inclusion and improve people’s wellbeing and livelihoods throughout the world.
The Director of the Humphrey Program at BU, Professor Jack McCarthy from the Questrom Business School, served as moderator throughout the Symposium, and Dr. Daivi Rodima-Taylor, Senior Academic Researcher at the Center for Finance, Law & Policy, joined him in welcoming everyone to the event.
The Fellows introduced a wide range of topics relating to their experience with financial inclusion initiatives, from the grassroots level—and one Fellow even showcased the entrepreneurial achievements of a single boy—to regional and national policy initiatives. The presentations introduced informal and community-based initiatives such as communal tontine clubs in Senegal (Mouhamadou Kane), women’s village savings associations in Egypt (Nermin Helmy Ali Ahmed), and innovative lending systems in Pakistan (Aly Jafferani).
Presentations on improving linkages between formal and informal financial sectors explored the successful case of microfinance policy in Ethiopia (Frezer Alayew Mohammed), innovative participatory and mobile banking initiatives in Morocco (Mounia Diyane), and the relationships between state social transfers and traditional mutual aid in Turkmenistan (Serdar Bazarov). Finally, the importance of literacy and education in expanding financial inclusion was discussed, with the example of improving basic financial services in Myanmar (Khaing Thandar Nyunt), challenges of financial illiteracy throughout Pakistan (Habibullah Pathan), and critical entrepreneurial training in the Albanian educational system (Fozilet Simoni).
All of the Fellows spoke from the heart about the challenges and opportunities we face in expanding financial inclusion worldwide. As Dr. Rodima-Taylor explained, “the Fellows’ presentations highlighted their knowledge about the financial needs of low income communities in their countries as well as their dedication to expanding financial access and education. The ideas they shared were based on their personal experiences with these topics.” Assistant Professor Wissal Nouchrif from Bunker Hill Community College, who organized a panel session at the Symposium with her students, explained, “what I appreciated most about the symposium was that it provided an array of personal experiences from all over the world shared by the Fellows as well as a rich discussion among all the attendees from BU and BHCC. Truly a unique opportunity to understand financial inclusion challenges across the world!”
Professor Nouchrif and her current and former students from the Business Administration Department at BHCC also contributed a panel on financial literacy and capability initiatives underway at BHCC. Professor Kathleen O’Neill further introduced BHCC’s Single Stop—an initiative that connects students to state and federal financial resources and local community services.
BHCC is a partner of the BU Humphrey Program under the Associate Campus Partnership—an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of State in 2007 with the aim of extending the international perspectives the Humphrey Program to a broader range of U.S. higher educational institutions and local communities. This Symposium built upon earlier collaborations focused on financial literacy, which were implemented by former BU Humphrey Program Director Dr. Ksenya Khinchuk, current Assistant Director Cyrus Kostantinakos, and Professor Nouchrif. This year, the dynamic Symposium format enabled Fellows and BHCC faculty and students to share information and perspectives on the theme of financial inclusion with one another, as well as with attendees from across BU’s Charles River Campus.
Each session was followed by a short Q&A period, and the Symposium ended with an open discussion with attending BU faculty, staff, students, and guests—and conversations continued long after the event had ended. Associate Director for the BU Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future Cynthia Barakatt remarked, “the symposium provided a fascinating and enlightening glimpse of how important the informal economy is—not just to individuals, but to communities in various parts of the world. The presentations were short but very informative.”
Over the next several weeks, this collaboration between the Humphrey Program, the Center for Finance, Law & Policy, and Bunker Hill Community College will continue as we move toward publishing a compendium of articles on the topics covered in the Symposium. Watch this space!
The Fellows had an outstanding experience at our Program’s first-ever Global Leadership Symposium, held this past Friday, March 18th at the Questrom School of Business!
Fellows joined Prof. Sandra Deacon’s undergraduate seminar on leadership, The Leadership Challenge, as surprise guests representing global leaders from around the world. Director Jack McCarthy delivered a lecture on global leadership and invited the Fellows into the class to meet with the students and share in dynamic learning conversations through an interactive “speed dating” exercise, as highlighted in the photos below.
Both the Fellows and the students described the symposium as an amazing and fun learning experience!
We are very pleased to announce that we will be holding an inaugural Symposium on Facilitating Financial Inclusion, entitled Wealth, Poverty & Opportunity in the 21st Century, co-sponsored by Boston University’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and the Center for Finance Law & Policy and hosted by the Questrom School of Business, on Friday, March 25th 2pm to 4pm, as outlined on the attached announcement. We would be delighted if you could join us to be part of this important conversation!
Detailed registration information is provided through the Eventbrite link contained in the attachment, or directly through the link below.
We look forward to seeing you at the Symposium at the Questrom School of Business (room #240) on March 25th! Please contact us with any comments or questions.
On Friday, February 26th, we traveled across the Charles River to MIT, where Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), hosted us for an hour of lecture and discussion on some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world.
Chomsky began and ended on a topic that has been on all of the Fellows’ minds: the sociopolitical climate in the U.S. today. He explained, “there is anger and desperation and frustration—but very little hope.” He compared American society today to that of the 1930s, when living and working conditions were much harsher and the suffering was much greater—but which, nevertheless, was “a very hopeful time.” He further explained that hopelessness is what prevents people today from bringing about important social reforms as their 1930s predecessors did.
Chomsky explained that that when President Roosevelt was elected in 1933, he was basically a conservative who wanted to focus on balancing the federal budget. Roosevelt championed the New Deal only after a militant labor movement started affecting major industries. It was widespread popular pressure that prompted Roosevelt to change and bring the New Deal to life.
Chomsky went on to argue that the sociopolitical climate in the U.S. is a minor issue compared to that of global warming. “Within a generation, Florida is going to be underwater, and Boston is mostly at or below sea level. Boston is rich—but what about places like Bangladesh, which is a coastal plain? Hundreds of millions are going to be driven out. […] Europe claims they have a refugee crisis now; wait until hundreds of millions of people are fleeing from unlivable areas. […] The human species is now in a position where we have to decide how we’re going to survive.”
Chomsky then raised an even greater global threat than climate change: nuclear war. He described how we are closer to nuclear war now than at any time during the Cold War.
At the end of our time together, Chomsky stated that there is no single approach to solving these epic challenges; it will take efforts in virtually all sectors and countries. He underscored that ordinary citizens must not leave this work to their leaders; as in the case of the U.S. in the 1930s, it will take widespread popular pressure—again fueled by hope.
We were deeply honored by this opportunity to discuss such pressing issues with the father of modern linguistics and one of the greatest thinkers of our time.