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HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE UNCOVER & DISCOVER THEIR PASSIONS, HOPES & DREAMS

The 10th Annual International Summer School to Stop AIDS (ISSSA) took place in August 2006 in Belgrade and on Mt. Kopaonik in Serbia and Montenegro. This year's school was held in memory of AIDS activist and JAZAS supporter, Joseph Scheich, and hosted students from 17 countries. The primary objective of the school was to bring together the world's best young HIV educators to improve their skills in providing high-quality peer education in their home countries. The school provides a world-class learning environment that combines education, social activities, and cultural exchange.

In an unprecedented move at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Common Ground's President, Craig Bowman, was awarded a third consecutive State Department grant to work with JAZAS in developing a new model for the 10th Anniversary International Summer School.

In August of 2004, the U.S. Department of State selected Common Ground's Craig Bowman to travel to Serbia representing the United States; and provide training on a variety of issues ranging from volunteer management to advocacy and leadership development for students from 25 European countries. Awarding him a grant through the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs, the ten-day training took place in Belgrade and on Mt. Kopaonik in the heart of Serbia & Montenegro; and focused on the use of peer education strategies in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission among young people.

As a result of the success of his first visit, Bowman returned as a consultant in residence in 2005; working as a member of the three-member training team responsible for the 9th Annual International Summer School to Stop AIDS. This unique event is sponsored by Youth of Yugoslav's Associations Against AIDS (JAZAS). Bowman also provided the country's first-ever training on individual donor-based fundraising.

In an unprecedented move at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Common Ground's President, Craig Bowman, was awarded a third consecutive State Department grant to work with JAZAS in developing a new model for the 10th Anniversary International Summer School. Drawing upon our experience with the past two schools, a small group of exceptional students from the past two years were invited to be "trained" as the trainers for ISSSA 2006.

Common Ground and JAZAS brought these students together in Belgrade in late May 2006 to receive training to improve their skills as facilitators and to design the final program for this year's summer school. Each of these "apprentice trainers" received more than 40 hours of specialized training to prepare them for their role. Additional JAZAS staff members were also included in this intensive experience.

These apprentices then returned to Belgrade a few days prior to the beginning of the actual school to refresh their skills and receive additional support. Once the school began, these apprentices were supervised by Common Ground's senior training consultants. Each day during the school, apprentices met with the senior consultants to evaluate and critique their performance. At the end of the school, these apprentice trainers have ben entitled to additional follow-up coaching and support from Common Ground via email and telephone. Apprentice trainers are also required to provide additional training (post ISSSA 2006) in their home countries and to report on these activities to JAZAS.

Common Ground has asked that this be the last year that JAZAS request U.S. Department of State support for this project; and that this approach will enable JAZAS to build the capacity of its in-country training staff. In fact, so many 2006 students wanted to serve as trainers next year, that JAZAS decided to repeat the process for 2007; and it is already nearing completion with more apprentice trainers about to be named.


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