The Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program, designed to bring emerging leaders in key professional fields from Armenia to the United States for one to two years of graduate study, is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The program is facing termination due to considerations that raise the concern of MUSKIE Alumni network and other citizens, who have experienced the first-hand benefit of working with the graduates of this program and witnessing their civic activism in action.
From the very beginning the aim of the program was to promote mutual understanding, build democracy, and foster the transition to market economies in Armenia through intensive academic study and professional training. Program graduates from Armenia of about 430 people that are involved in the Alumni network and are actively working in various fields have attended 158 US institutions of higher learning and have brought back the prolific values and attitudes of these universities and local traditions along with the cutting-edge knowledge and practical skills so needed for the successful transition of post-soviet economies so required for building sound and lasting democracies. The graduates have specialized in various aspects of such fields as Business Administration, Public Administration, Economics, Education, Law, Public Health, International Affairs, Public Policy, Journalism and Mass Communication, Environmental Management and Policy, Library and Information Science, Environmental Studies. More than half of the returning scholars have brought back the most up-to-date and advanced knowledge in Business Administration, Public Administration and Economics, so vital to the modernization of any economy and state. Over these years the returning Muskie fellows contributed professionally, engaged in democratic processes in their home countries, and strengthened US-Armenia relationships, serving as and indispensible channel between these two cultures and becoming agents of change in all key spheres of the economy and the public domain.
Returning Muskie alumni, over the course of the operation of this program have continuously shared their firsthand understanding of American culture and democratic values in their workplaces and communities and have taken leadership roles in the nonprofit, private, and government sectors. Most of the graduates have taken managerial positions in various spheres and have professionally contributed to its upgrading and modernization. The network data suggests that 60 percent of graduates fulfill their professional duties in different organizations of Armenia, brining the know-how and skills acquired in the US Universities with 35 percent of returning scholars performing executive functions and acting as managers at various levels in public, private and non for profit sectors. These numbers suggest that MUSKIE fellows have served their mission well, as most of them have taken positions at the highest levels of labor market of the country, thus, becoming influential actors in the economy of the country, playing key leading roles and being viewed as authorities in the field of their operation.
The MUSKIE Alumni Network and other concerned citizens call upon the US Senate to take an action and not let this highly successful program to be terminated, as it has served both of the nations well, establishing people-to-people networks, institutional ties and has provided an ongoing cultural exchange so important for the vitality of any society. Moreover, the support of American people to these kinds of programs have reestablished the commitment of the generous and benevolent nature embedded in the fundamental American values, serving as a hope for freedom loving nations and a harbinger of democratic change. We hope that the Senate will play its role of the representatives of its people holding the American dreams and aspirations calling for a world free of oppression, poverty and violence, which is only possible if these values are being disseminated at the grass-roots level.