19th October 2014
Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship « back to blog
President of Dorm Room Diplomacy, Zack Levine, reflects on his experience as an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow at Cambridge University this past summer.
This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship, a unique social entrepreneurship program held each year at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. I say unique because the AdR model is truly one-of-a-kind. It is the only fellowship that simultaneously pursues cultivating stronger business sense, dialogue skills, and knowledge of the social sciences among fellows.
This model could not have been more perfect for someone representing a cross-cultural virtual exchange organization like myself: it presented the awesome opportunity to reflect upon all of the work we have done with DRD over the last three years and gave us the tools and vision to build upon it moving forward. I am so excited to return to the United States with a fresh game plan to improve DRD’s programs for all participants.
For three weeks at Cambridge I took classes among some of the most passionate and inspiring people I have ever met. Top-notch instruction from professors at Cambridge’s Judge Business School and King’s College definitely taught me a lot about operating a social enterprise, but without a question the most educational value-add came from my fellow AdR fellows...
The AdR community is comprised of social entrepreneurs of all colors and stripes. Just to give you a taste, fellow Ilana Ben-Ari is the Israeli-Canadian twenty-something founder of 21Toys, a social business that uses innovative wooden toys to teach children how to handle emotions like empathy and failure; fellow Karim Hauser is a Spanish forty-something BBC correspondent who launched Casa Arabe, a string of Arab community centers in Madrid and Barcelona; and Nathalie Ballan is a sixty-something Partner at Sair da Casca, a major Portugese start-up incubator in Lisbon. The group is extremely diverse, with fellows that run the gamut in terms of age, ethnicity, religion, nationality, enterprise sector, and more. As one of the youngest and most inexperienced members of the bunch, I took advantage of every coffee break and break-out session to soak in as much advice and wisdom as I could.
This diversity certainly lays the foundation for a rich overall experience. Yet more than just variety, the Fellows had real depth to them. Of course, they all were bright, motivated and enthusiastic about their work. But they were also real and honest people. Amazingly, everyone was super open to sharing important stories about their successes, struggles and failures. People took the time to listen, learn, and give advice - particularly to younger fellows like me. It is difficult to describe the amount I gained from my countless conversations with these powerful change-makers, but I am honored to have been given such an amazing opportunity to learn with and from my 2014 AdR class.