Monday, April 9, 2007

Pictures first, explanations later

I am back from the Marshall Memorial Fund fellowship. It will take a while to organize my thoughts regarding the meetings I had on immigration, European Union enlargement, the role of the US in the world, and other things. In the meantime, here are pictures. Most are recreational pictures, as I didn't think it appropriate to take pictures during meetings.

The orientation meeting for the American Marshall Memorial Fund fellows of Spring 2007. It was the first time we all met each other. In this group are 4 lawyers, 2 executive directors of refugee and immigrant mutual assistance associations, several VPs and other senior management of corporations, institutions, and think tanks, several elected officials (past, present, and future), one philanthropist, and one professor. A smart, lively, and intelligent group, for sure, but also personable, friendly, and very, very funny. That sense of humor was essential, especially for those who lost luggage or got scammed by taxi drivers.

After DC, the first stop was Paris, France.
The American MMF fellows on the steps of the French National Assembly. I love this picture, as it shows us in our business suits, but also relaxed and enjoying the sun while we could. A better group of traveling companions could not be found.

BryAnn, Kwanzaa, Carrie, and Ellen with Dominique Alba in the middle. This is the Pavillion de l'Arsenal, a center for urban planning in Paris. The huge picture in the background shows the new Louis Vuitton building, designed by Frank Gehry.

After Paris, we broke into three groups of 5 or 6 going to Copenhagen, Denmark, or Hamburg or Lubeck, Germany.

I went onto Copenhagen, Denmark.
Michael at the desk of the Prime Minister of Denmark. How understated is that? Note the computer at standing level behind him.

Chad behind the desk of the Prime Minister of Denmark.

The Danish police paving over the youth home that was destroyed amid rioting in early 2007. There are mounds of flowers against the short brick building. We had just spent the previous afternoon with the tough as nails Danish riot police (where they served us chocolate cake as afternoon refreshments), so we knew to behave ourselves around them.

The Copenhagen crew at the home of Morten Bangsgaard, European MMF fellow and Secretary General of the Conservative Party of Denmark
Standing -- Michael, Cal, Chad
Sitting on the ends -- BryAnn and Natasha
Middle: Bette and Morten

After Denmark was Rome, Italy with a different group of 5 or 6. The other groups went to Lisbon, Portugal or Athens, Greece.

BryAnn with the Somali Women's Association of Italy.

Ellen, Chad, and Cal stop for a quick photo-op in front of the Pantheon, in Rome, either to or from a meeting.

In Rome, we visited a "biological" (does that mean organic?) farm that was originally established to support a local leper colony. I photographed this cow and calf from the back of a tractor. Fortunately it moved faster than the cattle could run.

I can't remember what these cattle are called, but they've been around since the time the Roman gods and goddess walked the earth. Or something like that.

An art installation in Rome. It is a travelling art piece called Trash People. Imagine an ancient Roman plaza with a fountain, surrounded by thousands of these life-sized figures covered with trash.

From our southern countries, we reshuffled to go to Bucharest, Romania, Warsaw/Krakow, Poland, or Belgrade, Serbia. I went to Belgrade.

The Belgrade crew: Michael, Natasha, BryAnn, Hussein, and Jeff, with the ounders of Civic Initiatives, a nonprofit organization in Belgrade, Serbia that encourages people to become active in developing a democratic society in Serbia.

Posters showing human rights, offices of Civic Initiatives, Belgrade.

The western gate of the city of Belgrade, Serbia.

Here you can see the tan waters of the Sava river meet the blue waters of the Danube river in Belgrade, Serbia.

At the end we all reconvened in Brussels, Belgium to learn more about the European Union. We also visited NATO. There are no pictures as they required that we hand over everything with a memory stick, so out came the cellphones, digital cameras, and Blackberrys.

Group photo of all the American Marshall Memorial Fund fellows of Spring 2007, with some of the past European Marshall Memorial Fund fellows, and the staff of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, sponsor of the fellowship.

And to end this post, a wonderful poster called the European Year of Equality for All, seen at the European Women's Lobby office, in Brussels, Belgium.

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