Panel reunites World Fellows

During a packed World Fellows alumni lecture last Thursday, an audience member asked the panel of speakers — made up of fellows hailing from Kenya, Bolivia and the Philippines — if they could together agree upon a way to fight world poverty.

But JR Nereus Acosta, Filipino congressman and 2004 World Fellow, said that while the World Fellows program provides a common ground for discourse about global issues, it would be too difficult for leaders from such a diverse range of backgrounds to agree on simplified solutions.

“We are all World Fellows and not supposed to achieve a consensus,” Acosta said.

Poverty, AIDS and terrorism were among a number of topics discussed at the World Fellows reunion this weekend, which ran from Wednesday through Saturday and brought together about 50 current and past World Fellows hailing from 35 different countries. The fellows participated in panel discussions, informal meetings and lectures held in Betts House, Sterling Memorial Library and the Yale Law School.

The reunion, which is held biennially, was designed to bridge past and present fellows so that they could share ideas to bring home to their respective countries, World Fellows Program Associate Director Kel Ginsberg said.

“It was an opportunity to exchange ideas across class years,” she said.

While some audience members said they wished the lectures — particularly the one addressing terrorism — had gone into greater depth to produce concrete solutions, others said they thought the event effectively connected leaders from across the world.

Karina Dashko, a 2004 World Fellow from Russia, said she enjoyed the cultural and intellectual exchange at the reunion.

“The forums allowed us to find a way to understand each other and create dialogue,” she said. “It is important to see from other perspectives.”

Vince Perez, a current World Fellow from the Philippines, said he found his conversations with past fellows to be enriching.

“It was a wonderful experience to meet three years of fellows … in an intellectual smorgasbord of ideas,” he said.

Linda Bi MED ’10 said she had trouble deciding whether to attend the lecture about poverty or the one addressing AIDS, because the two ran at the same time on Thursday.

“I was torn between the two lectures as a MD/PhD student,” Bi said. “Intuitively AIDS made sense, but I was also intrigued by the poverty lecture.”

The lecture series was preceded by several internal meetings, in which the World Fellows of the past three years and some faculty members gathered to discuss contemporary global problems. During an open World Fellows banquet on Thursday evening, students were able to converse informally with the fellows.

Anamaria Aristizabal SOM ’07 said the reunion provided students with a rare chance to touch base with many fellows from different years, by participating in the lectures and discussions.

Bill Fishel ’08 said he enjoyed the Thursday lecture.

“I was impressed by the [fellows'] diversity and wealth of experience, as a result of globalization,” Fishel said.

The World Fellows program was launched three years ago. Another alumni reunion is scheduled for 2007.

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