Washington based programs work. Graduates of comparable programs who come to Washington from Northern Ireland, Ireland or South Africa readily testify that, regardless of program type, their Washington experience had a lasting impact on their professional skills. It advanced their careers, and inspired them to go home and continue working together. Those programs which have taken time to track their graduates know that they are now working in key roles in politics, business and in the community, and that the tradition of collaboration continues.
- Short Term: The short term goals of the program are achieved if participants can demonstrate improvement in their personal and professional skills, if they successfully complete their work shadowing, and are full participants in the team and host family experience. Success also means they have discovered the power of their own leadership story to move both American audiences and their peers. The program gathers continuous assessments from host families, intern supervisors and the participants themselves to monitor progress. Each summer ends with a comprehensive, day long program of evaluation, feedback and recommendations for next year’s program.
- Long Term: NSL understands that the Washington experience is only the beginning of the new story. The real test of success is how it has affected the student in five or ten years’ time. Was it life-changing? Was it taken up into the developing storyline of their lives as an important turning point? NSL remains in contact with every graduate and stays informed about their career paths and history of service, and continues to weave the web of connection using the latest social networking technologies such as Facebook and Twitter. The program also continually invites its alumni to contribute to NSL through mentoring its latest team of participants and inviting some to return the following year as Management Team.
- Momentum for Change on the Ground: Whether short or long term, NSL knows that change cannot happen only through one small program. Rather, systemic change comes from a combination of forces that over time, come together to change the context. What was once a threat is progressively seen as inevitable. The experience of the alums of 2012 who returned home to build their own negotiation program inspired us to institutionalize the Project For Change idea in 2013. Even with only a few months testing, we can see that this idea is transformative because it places students in a new story of action from the start. They have no time to be victim. We are confident that over the next 5 years, our impact will be measured by how many initiatives for change arise from the special PFC training that only NSL offers. If the program can point to successful projects led by its alums, we can be assured that we are building the necessary momentum for change on the ground, and can prove NSL’s lasting impact.
It is the Right Story for Washington DC to be Hearing Right Now: Washington is accustomed to the voices of the senior political leaders from the Middle East speaking to American policy makers, but rarely do they hear the testimony of the younger generation who will ultimately have to take responsibility for the kind of future they want their own children to enjoy. NSL is committed to ensuring that Washington finally hears these voices.