The Humphrey Program’s Legacy

Judith Gibson, Director, Institute of International Education

Judy-Gibson-photo-232x300Every year since 1980, Humphrey Fellows have left legacies to those that follow. The legacies begin developing from the beginning of a Humphrey Fellow’s program year. Before autumn classes begin at host university campuses, approximately 200 new fellows arrive in the United States to begin their year of professional and academic development. They also begin a year of discovery. They may come early for English training and by September most are fully engaged in academic coursework, community service, sharing of their culture with others and learning new things about their university, city or town and the United States people. They also learn quite a bit about themselves.

Alumni from the first class 35 years ago include Mr. Kenneth Kanda, ambassador from Ghana to the United Nations, Ivan Camanor of Liberia, currently the chairman of the National Aids Commission in that country, and David Mena, a former member to the Israeli Knesset. More recent Humphrey alumni include a 2012 International Women of Courage Awardee from The Maldives, Bhutan’s first female Supreme Court justice and a newly-elected member of the Armenian Parliament.

The legacy that each of the Humphrey Fellows will leave at Arizona State University is one that you may discover maybe a few months, years or decades from now. Recently Humphrey Fellows who participated in the program many years ago were reunited for a conference in Cairo, Egypt. Others came together in Casablanca, Morocco for a training of judges. An alumna from Malaysia led a recent workshop on negotiations in Washington, DC. These are just a few of the types of legacies left before you.

What will you leave? This is something I hope you each have considered and will continue to think about when you go back home. I am confident you will leave behind a laugh, smile, a song or a joke and maybe a changed mind or heart. Touching people by knowing them is a step toward understanding and global harmony. Fear and ignorance breed misunderstanding and tension. Your legacy as journalists is to return to your countries perhaps with a more nuanced view of the world and to use your professional skills in leadership and in public service.

President Jimmy Carter stated the following about Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, the program’s namesake, in a State of the Union Address in 1979, shortly after creating the program:

“From time to time, our nation is blessed by the presence of men and women who bear the mark of greatness, who help us see a better vision of what we can become. Hubert Humphrey was such a man.”

Through the Humphrey Fellows — past, present and future — the spirit of human rights, service, and leadership exemplified by this great man lives on. ASU 2013-14 Humphrey Fellows Fernando, Hina, Ivana, Maja, Wahida, Rhonda, Steven, Denya, Issa and Javaria: We await your legacies with much anticipation.

Wishing you all the very best and thankful for your participation.

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