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Fall / Winter 2022 Newsletter

US Ambassador to Georgia Visits PH Programs Supporting Minority Communities

US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, toured the Samtskhe-Javakheti region on October 26th, visiting schools in towns and villages that participate in PH programs.  This southern region of Georgia borders Armenia and Turkey and is home to several Armenian-speaking communities including Tskhlaltbila, in Akhaltsikhe municipality, one of 15 districts in the region where PH has been implementing the Community Policing Initiative in Minority Regions of Georgia (CPI) Program since 2020.
Ambassador Degnan was welcomed by students and local officials at Tskhaltbila Pubic School and attended a police-led legal culture lesson on road safety. Two Patrol police officers and the civics teacher delivered the lesson by introducing games and interacting with students. After the lesson, the Ambassador asked students about the projects they’ve initiated with CPI support, including the renovation of their sports hall together with their community. The Ambassador highlighted the importance of this type of unique project for the village which has greater impact for the future generation of Georgia.
From there, Ambassador Degnan travelled southeast to Akhalkalaki to visit #3 Public School. This is one of several partner schools of the new USAID Civic Education Program. During her visit, the Ambassador learned about projects the students had implemented that aimed to prevent cyberbullying, support job skills training, strengthen student self-government, and raise awareness about NATO and the European Union. The Ambassador praised students for all of their hard work and encouraged them to continue to be engaged citizens and emphasized the importance of civic education. Students also had an opportunity to ask the Ambassador questions about her career and the work that the US Embassy does across Georgia.
Ambassador Degnan followed-up her visit with a letter thanking PH International for the tour stating:
"The U.S. Embassy is committed to continuing our work to strengthen ethnic minority regions and make them safer by building bridges between police and communities they serve. I wish you every success as you continue the difficult and important work of ensuring peace, security, and public safety in Georgia."

Ed Denmark: An Interview on Community Policing

We caught up with Ed Denmark after he returned from trainings for PH programs in Montenegro and Georgia this fall. The career police officer, trainer and first term PH Board member shared insights from the trip and the evolution of his thinking on community policing and building trust. Here are some excerpts. To watch the full one-hour interview, click on the image below. 
PH: What were the highlights of working with police officers for the first time in Montenegro?
ED:  For me the biggest highlight was how open the participants were to the training. People are often reluctant to share their experiences and problems, particularly with their superiors in the room. We were able to jump right in because the trust had already been built. Sladja and Amela [PH Montenegro Country & Program Director and Program Coordinator, respectively] had done such a good job of building relationships before I walked in. It was fun. We had a good time.

PH: You’ve been consulting and training for PH in several different countries. What led to your interest in community policing training and international work?
ED: First, I was a police officer in a former life for 31 years. Because of my undergraduate work in legal studies, I came into policing with a very legalistic view of policing. But I found that it wasn’t working for me. As a person who loves history, I discovered the word “policing” comes from Greek root “Polis” meaning “city or group of citizens.” We’re supposed to be representatives of the people we serve, but there was a disconnect. That’s what got me interested in the community policing approach to doing my job.
It’s all PH’s fault that I got involved in international work. Back in the 1990s I did some police exchanges with PH. We thought Eastern bloc countries were supposed to be our enemy but when I got to Ukraine, I thought, ‘These people are wonderful.’ I realized the misconceptions we have about the governments are relayed onto the people and there’s got to be a way to close that gap. That’s how I fell into this international community policing realm.

PH: What differentiates community policing from other approaches to police work?
ED: What I hope is that we stop using the term ‘community policing’ and just start doing policing the right way. If we can prove that this way of collaborating with your community to help them solve problems is more of a preventative approach than a reactive approach of consistently chasing problems and throwing more resources at a problem without ever solving it. . . So with an institutional mindset shift, I think the term ‘community policing’ will disappear.

PH: Can you explain the six pillars of Community Policing?
ED: Sure. The six pillars come from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing under President Obama. These six pillars have been universally adopted:
  • Building Trust and Legitimacy;
  • Policy and Oversight;
  • Technology and Social Media;
  • Community Policing and Crime Reduction
  • Training and Education; and
  • Officer Wellness and Safety.
To be honest, I think the pillar model can be deceiving because we tend to think of them all equally supporting the framework, but none of them work without the first pillar. Building trust sets the foundation, and you demonstrate that trust through the other pillars to build further trust, not only between police and the citizens, but within community institutions overall.

PH: And what would be an activity to build that trust?
ED: It’s all about telling stories. The first thing I tell them is that I’m not here to tell you how to fix your problems. I’m here to guide you on a process of self-discovery. I tell them about the mistakes we’ve made in the US and my personal mistakes and they get a better idea of my motivation to help them. . . We care about the same things: keeping our families and communities safe. I ask them to list the obstacles to achieving their goals. We compare that list with others I’ve worked with and we understand how universal these issues are.

PH: Much of PH’s work with police involves helping youth better understand their legal rights and responsibilities. Is that connected to Community Policing?
ED: 100%. I started out as a high school resource officer, coaching baseball and working with kids in the classroom.  In order for you to feel like a full citizen you have to know your rights and understand that they come with a responsibility to other citizens. Building that idea that you belong in this society is important to understanding the rule of law and gives you a voice when you don’t believe the laws are just. We can’t expect that laws written years ago will remain pertinent today. So we change those laws through the legislative process or the appropriate way to protest. This gets into countering violent extremism. If you don’t have evolution, you end up with revolution. So engaging youth is huge. They are the future leaders of society.
Just Policing:
PH Trainer Edward Cronin Chronicles his Journey to Police Reform

 
Edward Cronin, long-time Chief of Police and international trainer with PH International, has just published his first book. Just Policing: My Journey to Police Reform written with co-author Dayna M. Kendall provides a gripping account of the trajectory of Ed’s life. A challenging upbringing initiated a lifelong intolerance of injustice and inspired him to stand up to bullies. As a young patrolman, Ed gained respect for arresting robbers and drug dealers while also continuing his studies and championing unpopular positions to reduce domestic violence and systemic racism. Through PH International, Ed brought his training to improve policing in Eastern Europe and beyond. He also served as the Senior Police Advisor for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in Moldova. From Russia to Egypt to Moldova and back to his home town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Ed traces his passion to introduce democratic policing and empowerment for women and minority communities. Go to www.justpolicing.org to order the book and gain more insights on his remarkable achievements.

89 Ukrainian Teens Graduate from Microscholarship Program

In spite of the Russian invasion and ensuing war in Ukraine, all but 12 students completed their two year online English language training program this year. Starting in September 2020, a total of 101 financially under-privileged students aged 13-15 were accepted into the English Access Microscholarship Program from five locations in Ukraine: the capital Kyiv, Ismail in the southwest and three cities in eastern Ukraine — Kramatorsk, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk — where the Kremlin has focused its annexation efforts in recent months in the face of stiff resistance from local and national forces.

The after-school English language and American studies program was forced to go online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, challenging students to secure internet access. In each region, trainers were hired to lead classes for 18-22 students. As with much academic instruction, the conversational and inter-cultural curriculum had to be adapted for remote learning. Fortuitously, this adaption allowed for students to rejoin classes in the spring of 2022 after the initial invasion, often while sheltering from Russian missile attacks, and complete the 300 hours of instruction required for graduation and eligibility to apply for exchange and college programs in the U.S.
Access students come into the program with a low level of English skills and a high level of motivation. A graduate from Kramatorsk said: “I am glad to participate in Access, and now my parents are proud of me, and I want my country to be proud of me, especially our region! I am from [the] East, I speak Russian, but I am very patriotic and I wanted to study English with Access to make Ukraine powerful! I will never forget lessons on leadership and development of critical thinking.”

Another participant and his family were forced to flee their home in Severodonetsk and he completed the program in Latvia. “The Access program greatly improved my English language. Before, I could not understand even very simple speech in English. Now I can speak on various topics. In the future, the Access experience will help me to continue learning the English language. Even now, when I live in another country because of the war, my English helps me a lot! Thank you!”

The leadership component of the program allowed many students to explore interests beyond war and survival. Another graduate from Kramatorsk remarked, “With the help of Access I know that Americans value their rights and help other nations to get freedom. We had many lessons on environmental protection and we have organized the environmental protection movement in Ukraine, such as Stop Pollition, Clean Water, and Clean Kramatorsk. Access helped me greatly.”

Highlights of the Legal Socialization Program in Republika Srpska and Brčko District*, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BLSP – RS/BD)

Youth Leaders Demonstrate Peer Support
After attending Youth Leadership Workshops in March 2022, participants from selected LSP schools were tasked with establishing Peer Forums comprising at least 30 students. Participating students used the leadership skills acquired at the workshops to lead their peers in an activity that was beneficial to their local communities. A successful example was the humanitarian bazaar, titled “Be a Pal,” that was led by a female youth leader in a school in Banja Luka. The fundraising activity collected money for fellow classmates from socially disadvantaged families to participate in a school excursion with their peers. The well-coordinated activity resulted in raising the equivalent of $550.
More photos from the activity are published on the school’s official Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3247919635531835&set=pcb.3247920035531795
Legal Socialization ‘Tackles Violence’ in the Classroom
The teaching of legal socialization program (LSP) modules in classrooms always yields interesting results. A Teaching Team (police officer and teacher) from an eight grade classroom in Republika Srpska where a number of students were exhibiting unacceptable behavior and had one of the highest disciplinary rates in the school reported the following:
 
"After [teaching] module 2 on juvenile justice, some students  commented on the lessons learned. The outcome of the constructive dialogue between the police officer and the students was that these students realized that using violence to solve a problem was wrong. [Impressively], there have been no new disciplinary measures imposed on students in this class and students [are] acting more responsibly in school.”
*Republika Srpska (RS): a Serb-majority entity, is located in the north and east of the country. RS is one of the two equal entities composing the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the other is the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina).
Brčko District (BD): belongs to both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska) but is a self-governing administrative unit in north-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

‘Police Explorers’ Summer Camp Gives Moldovan Students Firsthand Look at Career Options

This year’s Police Explorers’ Summer Camp provided an opportunity for 49 Moldovan 11th grade students to become Young Police Ambassadors in the coming year and concluded with a hands-on learning experience. Organized during the last week of July, the overnight camp (a collaboration between PH and the General Police Inspectorate) familiarized students with the structures and career opportunities within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Eleventh grade students from 26 schools participating in the Legal Socialization in Moldova Schools Program (MLSP) competed to join this second annual summer camp.
“During the summer camp, I had the opportunity to interact directly with police officers representing various police divisions, to experience different police action methods, and to see police from another perspective.”  - Marionela Toma, 11th grade student from Lyceum "V.Alecsandri" in Ungheni
For four days, the students worked directly with police officers and visited various MIA divisions including the National Service for Emergency Calls 112, “Fulger” Special Forces Police Brigade, the National Inspectorate for Public Security of the General Police Inspectorate, and the Forensic and Judicial Expertise Centre. The students learned firsthand about the role of police and what it’s like to be a police officer from top-ranking police officials to recent police academy graduates. Members of the Association of Women in Police introduced their work to breakdown gender stereotypes, enlist more women in law enforcement and promote equity in career positions. Participants became acquainted with police work, challenged a variety of police-related stereotypes and evaluated their knowledge and skills acquired throughout the school year.
On the last day of the summer camp, students took part in a mock criminal trial and assumed the roles of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, victims, accused parties, witnesses, clerks, and judicial experts. The students analyzed the case study, identified the articles of the Criminal Code for the classification of offenses and the legal provisions concerning the relevant penalties. They drew up the indictment and issued an appropriate sentence based on the models provided. Participants left the four-day summer camp exploration ready to serve in their new role as Young Police Ambassadors at their schools by promoting legal socialization programs and supporting the development of school safety initiatives.

“Each of us can be part of a judicial process and when we have some legal knowledge, we can ask ourselves the question: What would my behavior be in this situation? What are my rights and obligations?”
- Mrs. Corina Lungu, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Education and Research

Armenia Civics for Engagement Kicks off with Three Youth-Focused Initiatives

In celebration of International Youth Day on August 12, Grigor Adamyan and Avet Zohrabyan, Armenian high school students from Surenavan in the Ararat region, unfurled the banner of Armenia Civics for Engagement – a new 5-year program made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. Grigor and Avet were among 32 students invited from 16 communities to discuss the importance of their role in decision-making at the school, community and national levels in advancing Armenia’s development. The event concluded with the formation of the “Public Council of Children and Youth Rights” with support from the Armenian Human Rights Defender Agency.
This youth workshop was the opening event of the Armenia Civics for Engagement (ACE) Program, implemented by a consortium led by PH Armenia in partnership with the International Center for Human Development, the Armenian Center for Democratic Education (Civitas Armenia), and the National Center for Educational Technologies of Armenia (KTAK).

The following day, Mariam Martirosyan, the ACE Chief of Party and PH Armenia Country Director, and Astghik Grigoryan, Project Management Specialist USAID/Armenia, welcomed a vibrant group of 22 youth specialists from across Armenia to a workshop on Positive Youth Development (PYD). The PYD framework provides a structure for youth to take responsibility for positive change in their communities. In their capacities as teachers, NGO managers, project implementers, researchers and youth experts, the group explored ways to incorporate the PYD philosophy, approaches and tools into their work in the Armenian educational and civic landscape. The group committed to creating a Community of PYD Practice to support one another’s work with youth.
 
On August 17, Dr. Marcie Taylor-Thoma, a Civics/PYD consultant for ACE, led a workshop on the seven core elements of Project-Based Learning (PBL), one of the new requirements of the current educational reform in Armenia. Participants included specialists from the National Center for Education Innovation and Development (NCEID) foundation, the Ministry of Education and Science agency responsible for coordinating the piloting of the new Armenian educational standards in the Tavush region and then introducing the curriculum nationally.  Dr. Taylor-Thoma is Executive Director of the Council for Civic & History Education in Maryland where PBL is mandated in all high schools and students are required to perform 75 hours of PBL or service learning to graduate. During a lively Q&A session, the group explored practical approaches to PBL implementation in Armenia.

USAID Civic Education Program in Georgia Holds its First School-Business Forum

A key component of the new USAID Civic Education Program in Georgia implemented by PH International is connecting students and private sector representatives to form mutually beneficial partnerships. An activity that builds these connections are School-Business Forums. Students write project proposals on issues that affect them and their communities and present them to businesses at the Forums with the chance of securing funding to implement their ideas.

The first School-Business Forum took place in the Adjara region of Georgia on October 7th. A total of 54 representatives from 41 regional private sector companies were introduced to 14 student-created projects and 3 STEM projects prepared by the National Center for Teacher Professional Development. Each project aimed to solve social and environmental problems that the students feel are important.

School-Business Forums are an excellent opportunity for the private sector to learn about the needs and initiatives of the younger generation,” says Elene Chkheidze, Private Sector Engagement Specialist with the USAID Civic Education Program. “Many companies have expressed their desire to collaborate with schools, and several projects have already been selected for financing and joint implementation.”

In addition to learning about their projects, 12 different companies offered the students internship opportunities. For example, Saba Tsetskhladze, an 11th grader at #2 Public School of Chaisubani Village, was eager to learn about the internship opportunities at Hilton Hotels as he is interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.

The USAID Civic Education Program will hold 11 School–Business Forums annually, one in each region of Georgia. Preparations are underway for the next two planned in November in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria regions.
It was an interesting experience for me because I managed to overcome [the] fears and insecurities I had about public speaking” said Elisabed Blagidze, a 9th grader from Public School #1 of Salibauri Village, who presented a project on creating an outdoor sports space in a refugee community.

PH Welcomes Young Athletes to the U.S.

PH re-energized its Sports Diplomacy programs this year by welcoming Brazilian martial artists to Massachusetts and female basketball enthusiasts from Uzbekistan to Texas. As the State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs team lifted COVID-19 restrictions on international youth leadership exchanges, PH and its partners swung into gear with a diverse mix of cultural and training events.
 
In July, a group of 12 Brazilian athletes landed in Boston for a two-week Sport for Social Change martial arts exchange. After demonstrating their mastery of capoeira, judo, jiu-jitsu and taekwondo with martial arts practitioners in the Boston area, the group continued to Cape Cod to interact with local communities, including those with Brazilian heritage. Through a mix of community service, martial arts, cultural time, and mindfulness sessions, the group got a taste of what it takes to be leaders who support themselves and the people around them both mentally and physically.
 
In October, nine female basketball players from Uzbekistan flew to San Antonio, Texas to develop their leadership skills
both on and off the court. This program was implemented by PH's partner The Basketball Embassy and emphasized women's empowerment as well as the importance of community engagement to help those who are less fortunate. The group spent an afternoon at the Haven for Hope for homeless children and the girls enjoyed leading basketball drills with the young players. There were lots of fist bumps!

Ministries Agree to Sustain School, Community and Police Engagement in Georgia As SCOPE Program Comes to a Close

The closing conference of the School, Community and Police Engagement Program (SCOPE) featured the signing of a legacy agreement by Georgian Ministry officials. From 2017 to 2022, the INL-funded program established legal culture classes led by police-teacher teams in 150 schools, benefitting over 4,000 students and faculty. Through student-led projects and 14 grants to regional NGOs, SCOPE improved safety and community life for an estimated 100,000 Georgian citizens.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Aleksandre Darakhvelidze, noted, “It is important to have programs that promote crime prevention, cooperation with juveniles and increase legal awareness.”  Celebrating the Memorandum of Cooperation between the two ministries to sustain these achievements, Mrs. Tamar Makharashvili, Deputy Minister of Education and Science asserted, “The main priority of the Ministry of Education and Science, along with ensuring equal opportunities to receive affordable and quality education, is guaranteeing the safety of students. For this purpose, the Ministry has been cooperating with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia for many years and will continue doing so.”
 
INL (U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) has supported legal socialization programs in Georgia since 2008 with the goal of building trust between police, students and teachers. A recent external evaluation of SCOPE shows that increased legal awareness in both students and local communities leads to changing values and attitudes toward antisocial and delinquent behavior.
Your tax-deductible donation to PH International supports our work to introduce and nurture the fundamentals of democracy and civic responsibility in parts of the world where those values provide a key defense against the ongoing threat of authoritarian aggression. Thank you for your generous support.
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