Monday, August 24, 2015

4 Quick Questions with Jessy Belt

Earlier this month, IARP welcomed new Deputy Director Jessica Belt. Ms. Belt, a graduate of the University of Minnesota and previous resident of Lebanon, is an Arabic speaker and has experience as a teacher, event organizer and networker across international lines. We asked her a few questions about her new role at IARP.

Q: How did you first get involved in IARP?
A: I came to know of IARP during my year of service with Americorps. I first volunteered to help with an end of the year mailing. Most people might wonder how a tedious evening of envelope stuffing led to further involvement in the organization. However, I was so genuinely impressed by the board members and staff I met and the array of services IARP provides, that I pursued further volunteer opportunities. After several more volunteer experiences and hosting a newly arrived Iraqi refugee family, I became further dedicated to reconciliation between our two countries. I spent the summer as an intern, after which time I left to live and work in Beirut, Lebanon.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
A: What I am looking forward to most is meeting all the different people involved in IARP. From the very beginning, I have been impressed by the small yet extremely dedicated IARP community and their commitment to creating an environment for dialogue, education, peace and understanding.

Q: What are you enjoying most so far?
A: As a past volunteer and intern, I am enjoying being more hands on and involved in all the different IARP programs. IARP is unique in its breadth of services for a small organization and its close partnership with an Iraqi NGO and Iraqi leadership. I am honored to play a more substantial role in the organization.

Q: Why IARP?
A: I am a firm believer that through meaningful conversations and understanding between peoples - face to face or through the arts - peace, mutual respect and friendship can be realized. Why IARP? Because they facilitate these interactions that are so vital in realizing reconciliation.

We have a lot of work to do! As violence in Iraq intensifies, now more than ever we have a need for Americans and Iraqis to build bridges of friendship and mutual respect. Through our programming, IARP works to amplify unheard voices to rise above mainstream media to dispel misconceptions of Iraqis and the greater Middle East. I look forward to partnering with you as we build bridges of friendship and grow our mission of reconciliation.

Please feel free to contact me at 763-710-0427,, or visit me in our office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Thank you again for such a warm welcome to IARP!

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