Global business exchange: chamber members provide fellowships to women from the Arab world.

Author:Crabtree, Amanda

Twelve chamber members recently had the chance to host 19 women from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), thanks lo a partnership between the Detroit Regional Chamber, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the Arab American Women's Business Council (AAWBC).


This program came about through a grant the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Henry W. Patton Center for Engineering and Practice (HP-CEEP) received in order to develop this fellowship program. The intent is to form networks between the women and their host companies here in the U.S. - networks that will last long after the fellowship is over. The women came from many countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, UAE - AL-Ain and Yemen, and they were hosted by the HP-CEEP in Dearborn.


The women chosen to participate in the fellowships are in their mid-20s to late 30s, have degrees and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and speak fluent English. They were placed in companies where they could participate in an eight-week fellowship in their specific field. The fellowship not only provided a multi-cultural working experience for the women, but also for the host company.

The 12 companies who hosted the women were found through the chamber and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Many of the companies noted that the biggest benefit from the fellowship experience was cultural.

Mark Ostach of Digerati, Inc., said Munira, from Oman, gave their small company lessons on Arabic. He noted that Digerati employees benefited from the fellowship experience by working closely with Munira and learning different perspectives on a familiar business of computer science, giving the projects diversity from that of the American employees. Being a smaller company, the impact of a foreign culture impacted their work culture immediately, and Ostach said the impact was absolutely positive. Ostach said Digerati would be very excited to participate in this kind of a program again because of the impact and diversity Munira and her culture brought to (he company and its employees.

Throughout the eight-week fellowship, the women spent three to four days a week working and learning from their host company and one day taking a class and familiarizing themselves with the research environment at the University of Michigan.

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