In this, my last communication to the members and friends of US/ICOMOS, I’d like to take the opportunity to briefly reflect on my time as Chair of the International Exchange Program (IEP) Committee. I am an alumnus of the IEP – I spent a fantastic summer in 1999 working in Petra, Jordan. I know first hand how important that opportunity was in shaping my future as a heritage professional. I learned so much that summer, not only about the amazing carved facades of Petra, but also about the importance of the proactive, collaborative involvement of people in the management of their own unique, irreplaceable resources. I made lifelong friends and colleagues that summer and more than a few favorite memories.
Two decades later, I directly credit that experience with opening doors to the opportunities I’ve had, including the last twelve years helping to build heritage management capacities in Iraq. I am one of over 700 IEP alumni who have participated in the program since 1984. Like hundreds of others, my IEP experience was life-changing. In fact, it was so singularly important to me that I petitioned to join the US/ICOMOS Board of Trustees in 2014 just to be more active with the IEP. Soon after my election to the board, I assumed the role of Co-Chair, then Chair of the IEP Committee. And in seven years we have realized the exchange of over 75 emerging professionals from the US and 21 other nations. I have met so many intelligent, thoughtful, caring, and dedicated interns and host organization staff. And just like in Petra in 1999, the IEP has again helped me to make new friends whom I know will last a lifetime. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to be so involved in the lives of so many people who are at the forefront of using heritage to change the world for the better.
I want to thank so many people for making the IEP possible – too many to list here. There are hundreds of you around the globe who donated your time, effort, expertise, and financial support to ensure that the IEP could continue to make a difference in the lives of so many. As I rotate off the US/ICOMOS Board and step down as Chair of the IEP Committee I know that the program will continue to be important to me, and I hope to help as I can. And I hope you, too, will stay involved as a member of US/ICOMOS, a board or committee member, a host, a mentor, a speaker, a financial supporter, and most importantly, as a lifelong friend to all future IEP interns in this year and beyond. Thank you.