Since its inception in 2004, the Hollings Center has held over 40 Dialogue Conferences, hosting over 1000 participants from over 45 countries. Additionally, the Hollings Center has awarded over $300,000 to previous participants to fund dozens of small grants, establishing networks with hundreds of additional stakeholders.

Our dialogues bring together a diverse group of participants to touch on under-served topics, building networks and promoting cross-cultural understanding

Read below for examples of how Hollings Center programs build networks and lead to new understandings:

  • Our dialogue on “Afghan-U.S. Relations: Development, Investment and Cultural Exchange” brought together an unlikely pair: a Bosnian-American who heads a scholarship organization for Bosnians and a trainer from Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Program, who does outreach to rural villages in Afghanistan. Following the dialogue, three Afghans trained four Bosnians on formulating a nation-wide rural development program.

  • Following our conference on “Oral History in the Middle East and Central Asia,” several participants followed the dialogue by holding a workshop at Mardin Artuklu University. The event, “Oral History in Mardin: Developing Practice, Sharing Experience,” assembled a young Afghan scholar, a seasoned archivist, and director of a world-class oral history center with local oral historians, academics and students. These discussions promoted the use of oral history in Mardin and contributed to research undertaken to develop guidelines for the use of oral history in conflict resolution.

  • A recent Hollings Center conference connected a group of female entrepreneurs from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan who were eager to share their experiences and difficulties of running a woman-led business in Central Asia. One participant from Tajikistan invited others to attend and speak at an annual symposium on women in business, expanding the impact of the dialogue outcomes.

Small grants amplify the reach of dialogue conferences and produce creative, interesting outputs

Hollings Center Small Grant projects are innovative and wide reaching. Here are some examples:

  • Two documentary filmmakers, a Palestinian and Egyptian living in New York and Los Angeles respectively, won a small grant to expand their animated documentary Sawt. Sawt, meaning “voice” in Arabic, is an oral narrative and animation documentary project highlighting the experiences of female activists in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and their role in the nation’s dramatic transition to democracy. With the grant, the grantees were able to go back on the Egyptian street one year after the revolution, this time talking to women about the 2012 presidential election.

  • A Hollings Center small grant supported the exploration of an exchange program between Concordia College in the United States and Independent University in Bangladesh (IUB). The grant resulted in several agreements for collaboration between the two universities beyond the original idea for a student exchange program. These partnerships included a research agreement to advance an asthma study between professors from each university, a detailed exchange and study abroad agreement and the possibility for Concordia faculty and students to use other field research facilities at IUB.

  • Two Hollings Center participants joined together for “Untold Stories: The Oral History of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage.” The two worked together to create an on-line repository of interviews from Afghanistan’s cultural heritage specialists and other stakeholders of cultural preservation in Afghanistan. These interviews were featured on the website of Kabul at Work and presented in Washington, D.C. at an event titled, “Afghanistan’s Cultural Institutions and Private Sector in the Shadow of 2014.”

What our participants
have to say about us

There is no doubt that the Hollings Center methodology is effective. A recent survey of past Hollings Center participants showed that over 90% of respondents are highly satisfied with the strength of the format and the quality of the discussion. Almost all participants responding to the survey report continued contact with their fellow dialogue participants. Hear directly from participants themselves what they have to say about our programs:

“I am heartened to see dedication of people around the world on these issues because they can seem overwhelming. The sincerity of participants is clear. The organizers showed respect for the voices of committed people of faith, which is sometimes not found in purely policy circles.”

Participant of “Challenging Extremist Ideology, Propaganda, and Messaging,” April 2015

“The overall experience of hearing perspectives of professionals with different backgrounds was very insightful in providing a holistic approach to the issue.”

Participant of “Bridging the Disconnect Between Education and the Economy,” February 2015

“This event provided an excellent combination of expertise, perspectives, and national experiences. I feel lucky to have participated in an event where the discussion was high quality, wide ranging and respectful.”

Participant of “High and Dry: Addressing the Middle East Water Challenge,” May 2014

“It is very rare to leave a meeting on Afghanistan with a sense of optimism and excitement about what is possible and to feel that those of us outside the formal policymaking process may be able to make a real difference. You and your staff created a safe and inviting atmosphere, and I think many meaningful connections were made or reaffirmed as a result.”

Participant of “The Future of Afghan-U.S. Relations: Development, Investment, and Cultural Exchange,” May 2011