Expert Initiatives Foundation (EIF), the U.S. branch office of the European Expert Support Association (ESA), exists to facilitate the exchange of ideas between cultures and countries, to provide cultural education, and to preserve the heritage of various European cultures within the United States. In recent years, several European countries have chosen to pursue democracy as their means of governance. This is a significant change from their previous forms of government and a path with which they have limited experience. Democracy offers freedom of choice, which holds not only political impact but also has social, educational, religious, and cultural implications. What are the differences between social welfare programs in a free society versus a closed society? How does a free society care for the disadvantaged, disabled, addicted, and/or incarcerated? EIF offers lectures and conferences where experts will teach on topics important to multi-cultural, democratic societies, such as civic responsibilities, the rule of law, tolerance, gender equality, non-discrimination, and respect for human rights. EIF provides educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and countries moving toward democracy that will allow both sides to learn from the experiences of the other.
In order to exchange ideas, it is necessary for parties to come together in some manner. EIF organizes and conducts discussion groups, lectures, and conferences to bring leaders from various professions and industries in Europe together with their U.S. counterparts to discuss their specific fields of interest. For instance, social workers from Bulgaria might meet with social workers from the U.S. to discuss drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. Or Romanian/Bulgarian farmers might meet with U.S. farmers to discuss developments in agriculture. Some of the meetings will take place in Europe, others will take place in the United States. To further promote collaboration and understanding, EIF organizes cross-cultural exchanges of persons as well. The exchanges consists of internships in which European students or professionals are placed with an organization in the United States and American students or professionals are placed with an organization in Europe. The exchanges lasts from a few weeks to as long as one year in duration, depending upon the nature of the exchange. The exchanges works in conjunction with EIF’s discussion groups, lectures, and conferences to provide opportunities to gain greater understanding of ideas presented at those events. An important characteristic of the exchanges is cultural immersion. This immersion increases cross-cultural understanding to an extent not possible through discussion groups, lectures, and conferences alone.
EIF conducts educational and cultural activities in the U.S. to increase understanding of European cultures and preserve European heritage in various communities. These activities may include history lectures, discussions of current social problems within a particular country, weekend classes for children of a particular European heritage to teach the language, history, and heritage of their ancestors, or sponsoring events or festivals that highlight aspects of European culture such as food, music, dance, or theater.
EIF creates and offer lectures, conferences and discussion groups designed to educate people about the culture and history of various European countries as well as on various complex social and political dynamics faced by those countries. EIF promotes the exchange of ideas between professionals and leaders in the United States with their counterparts in specific countries. It is anticipated that one of the first programs initiated by EIF will address human trafficking and will bring social workers and members of law enforcement from the U.S. together with their European counterparts to discuss techniques to end human trafficking or at least reduce its scope, and to heal the social wounds that lead to human trafficking and that result because of it.
EIF sponsors conferences to discuss new scientific and business developments, as well as existing best practices in various fields. Students and professionals who participate in EIF’s exchange programs will learn about similar topics over a longer period of time and gain a thorough understanding of other cultures by immersing themselves in the culture for several weeks or up to a year. EIF is planning weekend classes, similar to an “after school program,” for children and youth in the United States to teach them about culture, including languages, history, and the arts. This type of program may be created around other European cultures in the future as EIF becomes more established.