Anastasiia Posnova

Last Thursday, members of the Yale and New Haven communities had an opportunity to meet the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs’ newest class of Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows, who this year range from a Liberian doctor to a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament.

The program, established in 2002, brings 16 accomplished mid-career professionals from all over the world to Yale for a semesterlong program. Fellows host seminars and panels, audit courses and engage with Yale and New Haven. Each fellow also has multiple Yale students who help the participants of the program settle in during their stay.

Standing around tables in Horchow Hall on Hillhouse Avenue last week, the fellows of the 15-year-old program presented their accomplishments and work to attendees.

“They’re like debutantes, world fellows,” said Emma Sky, the director of the program and a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. “This is when they get to introduce themselves to the community at Yale. So, it’s a chance for the students to really broaden their horizons and to see what incredibly interesting people are doing all around the world.”

At the event, the fellows were excited to share their work with the attendees. Taras Shevchenko, a fellow from Ukraine who founded the Reanimation Package of Reforms, a coalition of reform-oriented NGOs, after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, said that while he has already met many people at Yale in the last month, it was nice to communicate with so many of them at once during Thursday’s event.

“Today, it was like a wow effect because so many people showed up at the same time,” he said. “They had so many different questions and different perspectives, so I was really enjoying the possibility to communicate with people from Yale and New Haven communities.”

The fellows also shared their enthusiasm about being at a top research university like Yale.

Chude Jideonwo, a fellow from Nigeria who is currently working at RED — “a Nigerian media company that inspires young Africans to take action” that has handled the communications for three successful African presidential campaigns — said the World Fellows program has been “exquisitely designed” and that it has already been really useful for him, even though he has only spent four weeks on campus. Jideonwo will soon transition into a new company, Joy Inc., which will integrate science and faith to help people “find joy in their lives and in their work,” so he noted that he has already met multiple professors from the Divinity School and from other fields.

“It’s like being a kid in a candy store,” he said. “There is an incredible amount of resources, and sometimes I wish that students were not so frantically looking to score good grades that they don’t really take advantage of the huge life-affirming resources that are available here.”

Rema Rajeshwari, another fellow and a superintendent in Indian Police Service, who “has been instrumental in running successful operations against extremists” as well as a nexus of human trafficking and other criminal activities, also emphasized how much she loved meeting people at Yale and telling them about her experiences.

She also noted how much she enjoyed being back in an academic environment.

“When you are here, you really want to figure out your purpose in life,” she said. “I’ve never had this kind of clarity when I was at work. Because … my work is all about solving crises, so here … I have time to breathe, I have time to explore, I have time to talk to people. It’s amazing.”

The event drew a crowd of people from both the Yale and New Haven communities, and even students from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London.

Sarah Chen and Linda Drake, both students at the USCGA who came to the event as a field trip for their “Religion, Politics, and Globalization” class, said they enjoyed coming to the event and seeing the different types of work people do all other the world.

Chen said her favorite part of the event was meeting Rema Rajeshwari because Chen wanted to learn more about how people in other countries fight sexual assault.

Drake said that she was most interested in meeting Raheel Khursheed, a fellow who is currently a head of news partnerships for Twitter in India and South East Asia. Khursheed has worked on creating civic tech products, like Twitter Seva, Twitter Samvad, and SmartFeed to democratize information, “help governments do their jobs with accountability and transparency and enable meaningful citizen engagement.” According to the Jackson Institutes’ website, Khursheed works at the intersection of news, politics, governance, online organizing and disaster response.

“Being in the Coast Guard myself, there are a lot of ties between what he does and how it can be implemented in the U.S.,” Drake said. “Especially with the hurricanes that we’ve been having, we have a lot to learn about disaster response.”

Marwan Safar Jalani ’20, a student from Syria, said that he was most interested in learning more about the work of Lorna Solis, a fellow who is the founder and CEO of Blue Rose Compass, a nonprofit that provides gifted young refugees with access to education and lets them develop their skills and talents.

The NGO travels to conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and East Asia and helps young adults with “exceptional academic talent and leadership qualities” apply to top universities and find a job after graduation.

“The existence of these programs just gives me a lot of hope that there are actually people who are going to get out of the circumstances that I was in,” Safar Jalani said, “and that they are going to get the education that they deserve and they are going to get to develop their potential.”

The World Fellows program will host a weekly series of talks with the fellows, called “World Fellows Unplugged,” each Tuesday this semester.

Anastasiia | @asposnova 

Correction, Sept. 20: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated Marwan Safar Jalani’s ’20 status. He is a student from Syria, not a refugee.