Exchange DetailBACK TO MAP
In mid-July, ACYPL welcomed its first delegation from Egypt since 2010 for an 11-day exchange to Washington, DC, and Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. The 4-member delegation represented the Future Nation Party, Independent Party, Free Egyptians Party, and the Conservative Party. The program was conducted in partnership with United States Embassy in Cairo.
The program began in Washington, DC and focused on a variety of different policy issues that were of interest to the delegation. They had an opportunity to discuss international development with officials from the United States Agency for International Development, and the role of social media in political change at Facebook. Later they engaged in a lively debate about electoral systems with the staff from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with Yelberton Watkins, the Chief of Staff for Congressman James Clyburn from South Carolina, and talk about voter rights and voter suppression in the United States.
ACYPL has an extensive alumni network who assist us in our international exchange programs. Each state host is an ACYPL alum who offers to host a delegation for 4-6 days in their home state. These hosts put together a schedule geared towards exposing the delegation to state and local social, economic and political issues. They also assist in scheduling cultrual tours and events so that delegations gain an understanding of the state’s and city’s unique culture and history. In South Carolina the delegation was hosted by ACYPL alum Charleston County Treasurer Mary Tinkler (Japan 2018), who put together a schedule that included a number of in-depth discussions with local political leaders, community members, and businesses in both Columbia and Charleston.
In Columbia, South Carolina, the delegation visited the State Capitol and took an exclusive tour of the capitol dome. Later, the delegation had an informative meeting where they learned about South Carolina’s budget procedures from state Budget Director Mike Shealy. During lunch, they dined with several ACYPL alumni, as well as the former mayor of Columbia, Bob Coble, who served as mayor for 20 years. Afterwards, the delegates visited the Islamic Center of Columbia for Jumu’ah prayer.
In Charleston, the delegation had an informative discussion about government contracting at Boeing. They also participated in roundtable discussions with state and local officials about civic engagement, local elections, and learned about gun reform and race relations in Charleston in the aftermath of the Emmanuel AME Church shooting.
Later in the week, delegates met with members of the Charleston City Council and members of the state legislature to discuss the changing demographics of the communities, and the impact of rising sea levels on the city’s infrastructure and the economy. The delegates got the opportunity to shadow South Carolina’s Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor James Smith and Mandy Norrell, respectively, as they campaigned; experiencing a day in the life of a US political candidate. The delegation visited a radio station where the candidates spoke about their political platform and shared their personal stories and what motivated them to run for office. Afterwards, delegates attended a political fundraiser where they were able to meet donors, as well as local officials and community members.
In spite of a busy schedule of formal meetings, the delegation did have plenty of time for cultural activities. While in Washington, they had the opportunity to tour the DC monuments and attend a dinner at former Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush’s home. While in South Carolina, they visited the Fort Sumter, the Citadel, Angel Oak, Battery Park, and many other historical sites.