Prague, March 11, 2016 — The U.S. Embassy Prague has launched 9-month fellowships for five Roma university students and graduates through the “Roma Fellowship” program. The program is being implemented by the NGO Slovo 21.
The goal of the Roma Fellowship program is to give the fellows an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for their professional growth as well as their role as leaders in their communities, advocating for equal opportunity and inclusion. This first group of Fellows will work in the public, nonprofit and commercial sectors at the following institutions: the U.S. Embassy Prague, the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Government, Conto Praha, and the Brno-based Atom Trace Company. Through the fellowship they will deepen their knowledge, expand their professional contacts, and gain diverse work experience.
“There was a country-wide call for applications for the Roma Fellowship released in October 2015. Out of 13 applicants, we selected five fellows from Prague, Brno, Pisek, Roudnice nad Labem and Karviná,” said Denisa Horváthová, the coordinator of the program from the NGO Slovo 21. She added that each of the applicants went through selection procedure in which there was a stress on Roma origin, university education, knowledge of foreign languages, and active participation in the Roma community.
Michal Mižigár was selected as the Roma Fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. “My work at the Embassy will be to assist with the human rights portfolio, and the Roma community in particular. I will have a chance to get to learn about a foreign mission in general because I will spend time at different sections of the embassy: consular, trade, public affairs, management and others. I hope to share my Roma experience as well as get to know the functioning of the embassy. At the same time I am looking forward to working on the topic of human rights and Roma issues from an international perspective.”
During the course of their fellowship, the fellows will also meet with U.S. Ambassador Andrew Schapiro and will participate in a joint meeting where they will be able to exchange knowledge and ideas.
“Empowering outstanding, young Roma leaders is a great way to support progress towards equal treatment and opportunity for minority and socially excluded communities. This is a goal that we share with the Czech government, which is joining with us to make this project a success. Through the experience of the Roma Fellowship program, these talented young Czechs can become leaders and advocates who will make a real difference in their communities and in society at large,” said Ambassador Schapiro.