MMF Alumni in Cleveland Donate to Support Brussels Bombing Victims
Civic engagement is a crucial aspect of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship experience—from the fellowship travel on to the decades of alumni engagement that follow. In the wake of the recent terrorist bombings in Brussels, the GMF alumni community pooled their personal resources to make a $1,300 donation to the Red Cross in Brussels.
Cleveland fellows reported feeling particularly called to respond because – by virtue of the fact that all American MMF trips begin in Brussels – all members of the network had experienced the city. At a recent reception in Cleveland honoring the incoming cohort of MMF fellows, alumni reflected on feeling ties to Brussels both because of its status as the European capital, and because many to this day feel close connections with alumni and with the GMF office there. Brussels-based alumni were moved by the Clevelanders’ initiative and responded in large number to GMF’s call for suggestions for organizations to channel the donation to. Based on their recommendations, the grant went to the Belgian Red Cross. Clevelanders, in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, sent the following letter to the Brussels alumni community:
The recent tragic acts of terrorism in Brussels felt personal to us. As alumni and partners of the German Marshall Fund's Marshall Memorial Fellowship program, each of us has traveled to Brussels as part of this unique educational opportunity. Since 2000, more than 80 young Cleveland leaders brought the program’s critical lessons of global policy issues, innovation and collaboration home to our city. Brussels shines brightly in our memories of the unforgettable MMF experience and Transatlantic Seminars and Forums.
During our time in Brussels, we met with numerous political, business, and nonprofit leaders deeply engaged in solving the world’s most complex problems: security, economic development, climate change, and human trafficking, just to name a few. One theme that always emerged through these meetings was the deep interconnectedness between Europe and the U.S., and the potential this relationship continues to hold for addressing matters of life and death around the globe. We learned that advancing each of our societies depends, in large part, on building bridges – of tolerance, pluralism, and mutual support – not walls.
Beyond our formal meetings with leaders in Brussels, we built personal relationships with our European colleagues. They spent time showing us their beautiful historic city and welcoming us into their homes with great kindness and generosity. In turn, we shared a bit of hometown Cleveland pride with them wherever we went. It is comforting in the face of recent barbarism, to know that these human connections are, and always will be, beyond the reach of any bomb. We stand with you, our friends in Brussels, today and every day. We look forward to continuing to work closely together to create a just, safe, and peaceful world. We wish you and your families healing in the days to come.
MMF Alumni continue to forge transatlantic ties after their fellowships conclude by stepping up to support others across the Atlantic, from informal networking to collective efforts like this from Cleveland. If you have a story of ongoing MMF engagement to report, send it to us at [email protected].
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.