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In November, ACYPL was pleased to welcome a six-member delegation from Tunisia and Morocco comprised of three delegates from each country. The delegates had a variety of professional backgrounds and interests including work in the governments of both countries, civil society activism, and communications. The group began their visit in Washington, DC before traveling to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The exchange was carried out in collaboration with our partners, the Tunisian American Young Professionals and the US Embassy in Morocco.
In Washington, DC, the itinerary featured a diverse range of meetings that explored many aspects of the American political ecosystem. Highlights include meeting with US Representative Ben-Ray Lujan’s Office (D-NM) to discuss education policy and legislative work, meeting with Reid Wilson of The Hill to discuss political journalism in Washington, and meeting with Rima Kawas of the International Republican Institute to discuss democracy in both Tunisia and Morocco. A highlight of the DC schedule was dinner with former US Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight L. Bush, at his residence. The delegates had a robust discussion about the bilateral relationships of both of their countries with the United States. One delegate commented, “My favorite meeting was with the Ambassador Bush and his wife, they were very welcoming and nice, I had very interesting and constructive conversation with them [and] they were very open to hear, to share knowledge to talk about their experiences, to give advice and to encourage all of us, I liked the debate that we had and the interaction.”
Once the group reached New Mexico, they were joined by state host and State Senator Jacob Candelaria. Highlights in New Mexico included meetings with the Secretary of Public Safety and the Division Director for Economic Development and visiting the University of New Mexico to learn about higher education in the United States. Perhaps the most captivating meeting in New Mexico, however, was the meeting with Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver where the delegation discussed the American election system at the state level and electoral politics.
The delegation also enjoyed a variety of cultural activities, including touring the Acoma Sky City Pueblo and watching a local Mariachi band in New Mexico. While in Washington, DC, the delegates visited the National Portrait Gallery and the many National Monuments of the city. One delegate summarized the experience by saying, “It’s a very good experience, I learned a lot of things from the US political system that we can apply in Tunisia especially after the revolution…We are building our new democracy and all what I learned I am sharing with my community.”