International English Film Camp

The week of April 1-7 CGS Koreni organized and ran International English Film Camp.  It was the 6th annual camp of this kind run in conjunction with Southeast European University (SEEU). This year three filmmakers joined us – two Americans and one Egyptian.  These three experts skillfully helped the participants work in teams to develop short stories and make short films.  This year there were over 20 participants, including Albanians, Macedonians, Americans, Japanese, a Czech, and a South Korean.  Working in four teams, the groups each wrote a script, acted in, and shot a short film (4-7 minutes in length).  Saturday evening was the red carpet premiere event.  It was an evening to celebrate our creations on the big screen.  Judges presented awards for Best Acting, Writing, Filming and Editing, and the audience voted to determine which group would receive the People’s Choice Award. 

The goals of the camp are multi-layered.  The obvious goals are for the participants to learn filmmaking skills and improve their English while doing so.  More important to CGS Koreni, though, are the less obvious goals.  During this camp, we hope that stereotypes are torn down, and instead friendships are built across nationalities.  As the people work in groups, they learn about each other, laugh together, and work together to create something bigger and better than they could have on their own.  The design of the camp supports and encourages cross-cultural skills and connections, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.  These are all skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century.  It was a successful week, and as filmmakers would say, “That’s a wrap!”

To view the films, visit Koreni’s YouTube page called “Koreni Education Development”.

Rachelle Neal

Europe—Seeing Beyond the Sights

Europe is a beautiful continent, rich in history and full of iconic landmarks. It’s also full of people--741 million according to recent estimates. 741 million people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.  And with diverse needs.

Spend some time sitting next to the Eiffel Tower and you’ll see a breathtaking feat of architecture. You’ll also see young men from central Africa and South East Asia selling trinkets and souvenirs. How did they get there? What did they flee from? What were they hoping for in coming to France?

Or spend an afternoon walking through the Botanical Gardens in Brussels and you’ll see French Baroque buildings and an Italian garden. Walk a few blocks over and you’ll see women of various nationalities selling themselves. How many of them are there against their will? What were they promised to lure them here? Work in a restaurant or as a model? An education?

This is some of what I saw on a recent trip away from my normal stomping grounds. Diverse people, diverse needs. But also, diverse response. One of the things that’s amazed me in working with refugees in Germany is the mixture of people I’ve worked alongside—locals and foreigners, with the government or an NGO, students and retirees. The same was true in these other cities I visited. Groups of people had seen a need and were working together to do something about it. Everything from raising awareness of human trafficking to providing after school activities for refugee children.

It’s amazing and an honor to be a part of.

Lynnae Kruis

Inter-cultural Research Expert

Building Up Teachers - Impacting Lives

North Macedonia

Center for Global Strategies is focused on education development in Macedonia.  Our local name is “Koreni”, meaning “Roots”.  We seek to strengthen education here by empowering teachers and schools directly, since they are the roots of the education system.  The week of March 11th CGS “Koreni” welcomed a small team from Texas made up of three ladies with doctorates in education and a teenager.  Each came to Skopje, North Macedonia ready to serve and pour into the local educational institutions in whatever way they could.  As such we were able to work with local Macedonian schools, as well as an international school and our partner Bridges Learning Center. 

 The three educators held professional development sessions for school directors, university teachers, English teachers, librarians, and general classroom teachers.  Many of those sessions focused on how reading can improve learning and help teachers differentiate for their students.  The seminars for the school directors helped them understand how they could do more than just manage their schools; they can lead, casting vision for and guiding the teachers into more effective instruction. These professionals also took time to do some 1-on-1 mentoring with teachers, connected with a couple universities and held a seminar helping parents know how to better support their children’s learning. 

 At the same time, the teenager was out engaging in and giving to the community in her own way.  She visited English classes in two local elementary schools, helped in the 5 and 6 year old classes at an international school, interacted with local teens, and even worked with one of the beneficiaries at a home for adults with special needs. 

 What a blessing and encouragement it was to host this group of ladies!  We look forward to hosting them, and others like them, again in the future.  Together we can positively impact the education here in North Macedonia. 

Rachelle Neal

What can Vietnam gain from the DPRK-US summit in Hanoi?


I was writing this article while in transit to Hong Kong to give a speech to a group of professionals and fellow alumni of the University of Hawaii about whether Vietnam is a short-term positive story or the next Asian Tiger.

Coincidentally, President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un completed their Hanoi, Vietnam Summit held over the past 36 hours to discuss a path forward towards peace, security, stability, and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. There was hope that this summit might achieve a formal end to the Korean War which has been in a state of armistice for the past 65 years.

The organisers of the Hong Kong event indicate that participants are very interested in learning more about Vietnam as a trade and investment destination, however, I am confident there will be an increase in interest due to the significant publicity Vietnam has received in the lead-up to the Hanoi Summit.

Vietnam has received its share of positive global publicity over the past few years, especially with its successful hosting of the APEC, however, the publicity surrounding the DPRK-US Summit has been different and more beneficial because the world was anxious to know which country would host such a significant event. When Vietnam was announced, it was like winning a beauty contest or an award show. Next, people wanted to know why Vietnam? Certainly, its geographical location and current friendliness with both countries played into the decision. However, people learned that Vietnam provides a fantastic example of tremendous economic growth and success over the past 25 years, providing lessons and paths forward for the DPRK.

Over the past month in the lead-up to the summit, the world read in many newspapers and business journals how Vietnam transitioned from major levels of poverty to essentially eradicating it within the last 30 years. They learned that Vietnam has very quickly evolved from a poor country to a middle income country. They marvel at how Vietnam has sustained GDP growth of nearly 7 per cent for many years. They watch on the nightly newscasts reports of the summit with the Vietnamese urban skylines in the background resembling the most iconic cityscapes in the world. They see that Vietnam is both a leader and facilitator of peace. Most importantly, they were able to see the warmth, positivity, beauty, and generosity of the Vietnamese people.

As I watched the closing news reports of the summit, initial reports indicated a constructive and useful dialogue between President Trump and Chairman Kim. However, they were unable to reach any formal agreements. With this in mind, it seems to me that the biggest winner of this summit was clearly Vietnam.

As an American businessperson who has lived and worked in Vietnam for more than eight years, I am very proud of this country. I believe there are many lessons Vietnam has to offer to the DPRK situation beyond its economic successes. Lessons such as how to navigate co-operation and discussions with the US over sensitive war legacy issues. I also believe Vietnam provides an additional example through its progress towards protecting human rights and religious freedoms viewed from a long-term lens.

That said, it is my sincere hope that Vietnam will fully take advantage of this unique opportunity to showcase its many successes to the world by continuing to take further steps and achieve greater results.

The conclusion of my Hong Kong speech to professionals interested in trade and investment with Vietnam will be that Vietnam is not merely a short-term positive story. Vietnam has already demonstrated a strong track record and will continue to reach further heights. Maybe, it can even be considered another Asian Tiger in the future like Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan or Singapore? To reach that level of success, it is very important that Vietnam continue to learn from these “Tiger” countries’ journeys (both success and failure) much like it would benefit the DPRK to learn from Vietnam’s journey.

Economists and historians note that some of the themes of these Asian Tigers’ successes include: good governance; a supportive business environment; a smart and strong regulatory environment; anti-corruption measures; carefully managed public debt alongside large reserves/savings; and an emphasis on developing modern and next generation industries.

I would like to congratulate Vietnam for very effectively hosting the summit and showcasing its success story to the world. I am confident that Vietnam will see increased foreign visitors, investment interest, and global prestige in the days, months, and years ahead. The bright story of Vietnam’s achievements will certainly continue.

Jonathan L. Moreno

General Director Of Medovations Vietnam

Business Training and Entrepreneurship Roundtables in Morocco and Egypt

The mission of the Center of Global Strategies is “to integrate peoples worldwide into the global economy by connecting them with experienced professionals and coaches to establish cross-cultural ties of friendship, investment, trade, exchange of ideas, peace and understanding.”

In the spirit of this mission, we recently traveled to Morocco and Egypt where we delivered a series of lectures on select business topics and hosted entrepreneurship roundtables geared toward helping nascent entrepreneurs to develop business plans for ventures targeting both domestic and international markets.

In the process, we were able to identify and build plans for several domestic business opportunities plus a few others with promise of integration into the global economy, including: production of Moroccan olive oil, export of Egyptian artisan goods, patent of a new technology with strong licensing possibilities, and the creation of a cross-functional media venture. We are also excited to have analyzed and identified next steps for the further development of a small appliance venture in New Cairo which leverages a global supply chain but, until now, has seen only limited sales outside of Egypt. This venture is now poised to sell to other markets in North Africa and the Middle East, with further plans to eventually supply finished goods to the USA.

Through our two-week initiative, we were able to exchange peace with many wonderful people, share many delicious meals together, and lay the groundwork for ongoing friendship, collaboration, investment, and trade. We will look forward to continuing these relationships and taking next steps to support these new friends and ventures in both Egypt and Morocco.

Russ Sandifer
Adjunct Instructor of Business, Wofford College
Business Consultant, NovaRock LLC

Geneva Conference in Uganda

I had the privilege of speaking at the Geneva Conference on National Transformation in Kampala, Uganda on October 6, 2017. The three-day conference focused on transformation of Uganda and its leadership, especially in the arenas of science and technology, business, and industry. Attendees included approximately 60 members of the Ugandan Parliament.

My remarks addressed the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in personal and professional lives. EI begins with being aware of and managing our own emotions, as well as understanding the emotions of others in a social setting. It was a very timely conference, especially in light of the physical brawl that took place in the Ugandan Parliament the week before we arrived.

The Conference was organized by the Geneva Institute for Leadership and Public Policy (GILPP), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Science and Technology Policy Institute, Korea (STEPI). Partners included Kumi University in Uganda, and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. CGS is partnering with GILPP in its goal of intersecting with and providing training for leaders from around the world. The main GILPP conference is in May each year, and my wife and I will attend in May, 2018.

Initial reports from members of Parliament indicate a very high level of satisfaction with the conference and its outcomes.

Henry Deneen, CGS Executive Director

Visit GILPP’s website here.

Educational Initiative in Macedonia

“Koreni” (Roots) was established in Skopje, Macedonia in November 2014 to serve as a catalyst for change through education development.  At Koreni, we see 3 types of education opportunities in Macedonia: empowering local teachers, working with local students, and connecting with our community. Our primary focus is working with teachers and administrators, equipping them to improve their part of the education system.

We also seek opportunities to build up students directly, exposing them to modern teaching standards and techniques, with a purpose of bringing local teachers alongside us to see these techniques in action. Lastly, Koreni seeks to connect with the community of Skopje and all of Macedonia by meeting educational needs as we discover them.

Perspectives for London

In London, we have been working to connect with British organizations to mobilize them to meet the needs of their local and global communities. In particular, we have been working to connect with network leaders across the London area to encourage them to mobilize their networks to serve the refugee community, particularly those living in Greece. We look forward to seeing Europeans being the ones who step forward to impact the people living in Europe. We think that the current refugee crisis is a major way that this can both continue to happen and start to happen afresh.

CGS Update: What’s Happening on Lesvos, GR

A CGS worker spending time in Greece helping refugees has filed the following report.

Lesvos is an intense place. I’m halfway through a 2- week stay. It’s my 3rd visit to the island, and while I understand better how things work, it’s still overwhelming to see.

So far I’ve spent most of my time repairing and recouping tents. EuroRelief has dozens of brand new big 5-man tents, but the camp is so overcrowded that we simply don’t have empty ground big enough for them. So I’m trying to squeeze more life out of older smaller ones. The migrants keep coming, but no one seems to leave.

The most powerful aspect of this, obviously, is hearing people’s stories. And if you’re fortunate enough, to be a part of someone’s story. When I was here in April, I helped a guy from Iraq get settled into one of the plastic huts. I kept checking on him and we became friends.  In July he was still here, and I got him to start translating for is, as his English is tremendous. Last week, I didn’t see him,  so  while I was disappointed,  I was glad he wasn’t squeezed into Moria anymore. But I kept hearing about “Yogi”, the refugee guy who is acting caretaker/first responder at our camp on the north  shore. Well, Yogi turns out to be my friend, and he is thriving up there in his new job.

Researching the Refugee Crisis in Berlin

A CGS worker living in Berlin and conducting research among refugees has filed the following report. We will keep you updated on further progress.

Reading statistics about all of the refugees coming into Europe is overwhelming. For me, visiting a refugee housing center made that general sense of overwhelming need more real. But where to start? So much could be done. There’s a lot that probably should be done. The dynamics of one group of people being pushed by violence out of their homeland into someone else’s are complex.  Perhaps a good place to start is with questions; to take the obvious question “What do these people need,” and add to it “What do they have to offer?” I am intersecting with refugees across Berlin in an attempt to answer these questions.