When she was last on the Yale campus as a 2007 World Fellow, Marlene Malahoo Forte of Jamaica was already leading a hectic life, serving as president of an association working for fundamental reform of the island nation's judicial system, training Jamaican police and teaching law at the University of the West Indies.
Life has become even more demanding for Forte since her appointment as Jamaica's minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Yet she was among the over 100 emerging leaders from 70 different countries who took time from their busy schedules to return to the Yale Campus Oct. 28-31 for the biennial "Return to Yale Forum," which brings together current and former World Fellows to meet and engage in debates about contemporary issues.
"In my new role I realized that I needed to renew some international contacts and make new connections," said Forte. "This is a very prestigious international program at Yale, with major players from many different fields, and a powerful network to tap into." The "Return to Yale Forum," she said, was a valuable opportunity to meet for the first time with World Fellows from other years, with whom she now shares a strong professional interest in the field of international trade and in the area of good governance.
The theme of this year's forum was "Connect, Inspire, Act." Fellows met in break out sessions that were region specific, as well as working groups devoted to special interests such as human rights and global governance.
Muna AbuSulayman, a current World Fellow from Saudi Arabia, said she particularly benefited from the region-specific workshops that enabled her to network with leaders from the Middle East. AbuSulayman, who aspires to develop a fashion line of luxurious apparel for Middle Eastern women, said she also found the break out session on entrepreneurship to be a valuable opportunity to meet individuals who are passionate about the same issues and to learn from the success and challenges of former fellows' entrepreneurial endeavors.
The fellows also interacted with Yale faculty and students during panels on foreign policy, public health and global repercussions of the economic crisis. During a session on trade agenda for the 21st century, two of the four panelists — 2003 fellow Hiddo Houben from The Netherlands and 2009 fellow Emmanuelle Ganne from France — pointed out that trade policy can no longer be successful on its own, but rather must support and integrate broader policies such as climate change and financial markets.
Keynote speaker, Shafik Gabr, chair of the ARTOC Group and Egypt's International Economic Forum, talked about the global impact of the economic crisis on the Middle East, and emphasized the need for leaders worldwide to collaborate across borders to develop novel solutions for dealing with the financial crisis.
The two other headline speakers were Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive officer of MercyCorps, a leading global humanitarian and development organization; and Walter Russell Mead, the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"The 2009 forum provided first-hand evidence of the growing reach and impact of The Yale World Fellows Program, which is now poised to fully realize President Levin's unique vision of a network of multi-disciplinary practitioners affecting positive change on a global scale," said Dr. Michael Cappello, director of the Yale World Fellows Program. "The opportunity to gather on campus has energized the World Fellows alumni, re-connected them with the University community, and catalyzed new relationships with students, faculty and each other."
Vice President and University Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer, who gave a presentation on the rapid growth of Yale's international initiatives over the past several years, said: "The World Fellow ‘graduates' have been wonderful ambassadors for Yale — creating summer internships for students, identifying outstanding young people to direct to admissions counselors, sponsoring important regional conferences and initiating projects in their countries that involve numerous Yale schools. In their reunion on campus last week, they were generating idea after idea for additional ways to serve Yale."
— By Kianti Roman