OurWater.net - A Water Resources and Civic Culture Training Program
2004 Intelligentsia International, Inc.. 

Intelligentsia International, Inc. (III), specialist in water resources internships seeks to provide a Florida-based instructional and public diplomacy program for U.S. and international students. The program curriculum combines direct work experiences with tours, seminars, and community involvement focusing on the application of science, engineering, business, and language arts in service to a pluralistic, democratic society. Intelligentsia will deliver advanced training in water resources, energy, agriculture and environmental management tailored to the needs of students and professionals from less developed parts of the world. The program activities will also generate direct educational and economic benefits to the rural, south Florida communities hosting the program (Hendry and Glades Counties) in the form of scientific projects, civic programs, and youth development services.

The OurWater program will use as its foundation the environmental, educational and technological resources of south Florida. This region is undergoing dramatic transformation as a growing population and economy seeks to coexist with an expanding demand for environmental protection and Everglades restoration. This growing clash of priorities is increasingly evident throughout the world, but nowhere with as much intensity and economic impact as in south Florida. The region therefore represents a microcosm of global challenges currently or soon to be confronting all nations.

Collaborators from the European Union (EU) and advanced Pacific Rim countries will fill key support roles in the south Florida center alongside a core group of U.S. professionals and staff. In addition, visiting interns from these developed nations will contribute to the educational experience of the developing nation interns. This approach ensures that participants from developing nations are exposed to a diverse set of cultural and professional models, providing a unique social enrichment experience for the training group.

Completing this multinational design are a series of overseas Transitional Training Centers TTC’s.. The overseas centers located in key regions (Central Asia, West Africa, East Africa, Middle East, and Latin America) provide an important multiplier effect by hosting additional intern groups in their home setting with participants drawn from local university students and graduates. The TTC’s are managed by graduates of the Florida training program, assisted by U.S. and other developed nation interns. The TTC internship program provides a Western-style professional development environment for local students, with some going on to become participants in the Florida program.

A key function of the TTC is to provide interim employment for Florida program graduates as they reassimilate into their domestic economy and professional system. A common failing of traditional, university-based professional training programs is their inability to successfully repatriate graduates. By continuing the Florida internship program and projects in virtual space, the transitioning graduates grow their global economy participation and productivity skills at the TTC. These participants soon become among the most highly qualified young professionals in their nation with corresponding private sector, NGO and government agency demand for their services. After developing their skills and local networks, the TTC participants find local employment or create small professional businesses and depart the program. This TTC model has proven to be successful in its trial implementation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The Florida program is envisioned as a short-term (four to six months) experience with the initial number of developing nation participants equal to twenty, composed of two groups of ten participants whose arrival is staggered at two or three--month intervals. Integrated with the developing nation participants will be a comparable group of students from the USA and other developed nations who will provide cultural balance. Thus, the total number of program participants will be from 80 to 120 per year. All participants reside in closely supervised dormitory facilities to ensure program accountability and security.

The Intelligentsia training program offers unique hands-on training experiences through supervised activities in both the technical and social aspects of water projects in a region subject to intensely competing demands for municipal, agricultural and environmental uses of water. Participants will be provided the historical context (economic, political and scientific background) surrounding regional water and energy projects. They will also observe and become involved in decision-making bodies at multiple levels, including those run by independent citizen and industry groups as well as government organizations. These stakeholder activities provide the participants with an understanding of a key element of international professional culture – the critical importance of civic engagement,

Importantly, the OurWater training program will contribute to environmental and socio-economic globalization by promoting connectedness among nations and peoples. The program thus provides participants an appreciation for the challenges of a career in natural resource management and the dedication required to maintain professionalism, ethics, and ideals over their lifetime.

The South Florida program includes eight activity areas:

o Project Work Experiences
o Technical Facilities Tours
o Civic Functions and Stakeholder Technical Meetings
o Home Nation Project Research and Web Content Development
o Mentorship and K-12 School Support Activities
o Group Seminars and Lectures
o Language Training Classes
o Weekend Recreational Tours

The technical work activities, tours, and meetings will focus on leading-edge technologies and projects of south Florida. This includes:

o Sustainable farming systems
o Micro-irrigation technologies
o Best management practices for nutrient runoff reduction
o Surface reservoirs and storm water treatment systems
o Public-private partnerships
o Land acquisition and easements
o Hydrological monitoring and data analysis
o New equipment design and development
o GIS-based resource inventories
o Advanced computer modeling
o River channel restoration
o Urban and rural water conservation projects
o Wetland and other ecosystem restorations

Similarly, they will utilize and become familiar with technologies related to energy:

o Biofuels processing technologies (Bio-diesel, cellulosic ethanol, etc.)
o Sustainable biomass production
o Solar energy applications
o Energy efficient buildings and process design
o Carbon capture and sequestration

In addition to the water and energy technologies, regional non-profit and advocacy organizations will serve as a focus of participant work activities, tours and meetings through groups such as:

o Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association
o Rotary clubs
o Kiwanis clubs

The participants will use the new perspectives drawn from the training program as a jumping off point to properly understand the scope and level of detail required to fully and accurately describe water projects of their home nation. The participants will publish these summaries on an Internet-based water resources information clearinghouse, OurWater.net and its subordinate national or regional sites (TajikWater.net, UzbekWater.net, NigerianWater.net, etc.). These web sites are modeled after the www.news.caloosahatchee.org web site, but with less emphasis on political activism in consideration of the differing political atmosphere of developing nations. Students and professionals will create and maintain these on-line resource library of information in English and their native language(s). Language classes will be provided to participants whose English proficiency does not meet basic business communication requirements.

The south Florida based training program will promote improved international water and energy resource management by providing the developing and developed nation participants with:

o A set of technical and leadership skills necessary to tackle their domestic water and energy resource management issues.
o An understanding of the critical importance of shared governance and first-hand experiences in civic engagement and community service.
o The opportunity to work in multicultural teams, thus building professional networks as well as an appreciation for differing work styles and ways of thinking. This becomes an essential asset for people working with multinational project teams or supply chains in a globally interconnected world.

Intelligentsia has implemented elements of the OurWater training program since 1999, with over 250 students hosted from 55 nations (see www.Intelligentsia-International.org). The proposed project would elevate the program to a more formal and comprehensive implementation of the training and public diplomacy vision.

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  2004 Southern DataStream, Inc.