The underlying premise of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) is that private American citizens have to do more to improve America’s relationship with the Muslim World. Together, America and the Muslim World face daunting challenges which traditional diplomatic efforts and official development assistance will not solve alone. To complement our government’s programs and efforts, we seek to galvanize the power of people to reach across cultural differences, form partnerships of mutual interest, and build peace. From archaeologists to musicians to engineers, America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, i.e. private citizens representing America through deeds of service, have created a tradition that represents diversity, equality, creativity, and optimism.
Through short-term volunteer service in key areas of human development, Creative Learning is interested in supporting America’s Unofficial Ambassadors to:
- Help address human development deficits throughout the Muslim World – the problems of education, health, human rights, and economic development in Muslim-majority countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are sorrowful. In 2011, we can’t consider these challenges to be isolated to the villages of Indonesia or the refugee camps of Lebanon; we are all connected.
- Build positive people-to-people connections between the Muslim World and America – there is no better way to get beyond harmful stereotypes than through the development of people-to-people partnerships built upon substantive achievements in education, health, and other areas of development.
- Decrease Islamophobia in the United States – from the debate surrounding the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan to the stereotyping that occurs on a daily basis across the United States, America has a growing problem in how we view Muslims, including Muslim-Americans. There is no better way to dispel rumors and stereotypes than through first-hand experiences in Muslim World communities and by sharing those experiences with family and friends back home.
By increasing the number of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors to the Muslim World we can begin to address these problems.
By December of 2012, we aim to have 1000 Americans commit to at least 1 week of service in the Muslim World.
To reach that goal, we are working on a number of fronts:
- Raising awareness that private American citizens can volunteer effectively. Our Project Director is writing a book about different volunteers’ experiences throughout the Muslim World; we are collecting stories and photos for our online Community Forum and Facebook Page; expanding the AUA Network, a community of past, current and future volunteers who share impactful experiences; and looking for current volunteers in the field to blog about their experiences.
- Increasing access to credible and safe volunteer opportunities by providing the AUA Directory of Recommended Organizations that send or host American volunteers in Muslim majority countries.
- Supporting high impact volunteer service through the AUA Mosaic Scholarships and Building Peace by Building Homes. The Mosaic Scholarships support under-represented Americans of all ages to volunteer in the Muslim world. In May 2012, AUA will lead a delegation of peace-building volunteers to build homes with Jordanian families in the village of Al Taybeh. Creative Learning is accepting applications for the Mosaic Scholarships and Building Peace by Building Homes trip now.
America’s Unofficial Ambassadors is a citizens’ initiative – its success relies upon the actions and efforts of private citizens like you. Think about what you can do to help build peace between America and the Muslim World. We have some ideas about how you can get involved, take a look here.