AUC recently held its first Civic Engagement Day, bringing together 15 nongovernmental organizations to campus to inform students about the causes they support and what they can do to help, as well as to present summer volunteering opportunities available at each organization. The day also featured a showcase of community-based learning classes at AUC, a blood drive and a screening of short documentaries on civil society produced by high school and university students.
The aim of the event was to help students realize that they are part
of a larger social fabric and should work to make a difference in their
communities, not just through charity, but by developing the knowledge,
skills and motivation to be civically engaged. “Right now, when people
think about community service, they think about charity work, like
cleaning up Tahrir Square or giving out a Ramadan bag,” said Nelly
Corbel, University civic engagement manager at the John D. Gerhart
Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, which organized the event
in coordination with Lazord Youth Leadership Academy, a new civic
engagement program offered by the center. “Civic engagement is not
limited to activism or those who do small acts of charity. We want to
show AUC students that no matter what your passion is, you can be
In addition to the NGO Volunteer Fair, which included organizations
such as Better World Foundation, Nebny Foundation and Andalus Institute
for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, students also presented
projects they had created through Community-Based Learning (CBL)
classes. Combining academic course work with hands-on service
activities, CBL classes aim to enhance student learning of participatory
development. “Instead of doing a project for class and forgetting about
it, you could learn how to write a grant proposal and use that in
conjunction with a real NGO project,” explained Rana Hegazi, a CBL
student associate in the Lazord Youth Leadership Academy.
During the event, students had the opportunity to learn more about
CBL courses, and CBL student coordinators helped students match their
interests with the wide variety of courses available, from engineering
and mass communication to rhetoric and composition classes. “It is
better for students to become civically engaged with a topic they are
interested in,” explained Hegazi. “You can get involved in a CBL course
across all academic disciplines.”
Collaborating with the 7th annual Excellence in Undergraduate Research,
Entrepreneurship and Creative Achievement (EURECA) Conference, the event
featured a lecture by Hisham El Rouby, co-founder and chairperson of
Youth Association for Population and Development, the first youth
organization in Egypt. In his lecture, El Rouby spoke about youth
volunteerism in Egypt and the importance of youth community development.
One of the highlights of the event was the competition for short
documentaries produced by high school and university students.
Encouraging active student participation in the community through simple
and creative means, the documentaries focused on the positive
contributions of Egyptian civil society organizations. The first-place
winner was Kawthar Younis, a student at the High Cinema Institute, who
produced The Story of Everyday Life, followed by Walid Al Hashedy, an AUC student, who produced Stop Female Genital Mutilation.
Both received monetary awards, in addition to a mentorship opportunity
with Naila Farouky, former assistant vice president of Sesame Street in
New York and senior project director in Africa, in addition to being
the co-founder of Midan Masr, a new newspaper inspired by the January 25 Revolution.
The event also coincided with the soft launch of an online toolbox to
provide prevention and evaluation resources to NGOs in Cairo. Created
by graduate students in the community psychology master’s program, the Web site
will be used to disseminate information on community psychology values.
“NGOs working on a variety of social issues have been invited to attend
the launch and learn more about the online resources, as well as
training opportunities,” said Amy Carrillo, assistant professor of
The Lazord Youth Leadership Academy consists of four components:
Advocates for Student Engagement, which raises awareness of civic
engagement on campus; Student Leaders for Service, which students with
promising project ideas; Lead On, which provides fresh graduates with a
one-year internship at various nongovernmental organizations; and
student associates serving as teaching assistants in community-based
learning classes. “The program is not just about community service,”
said Corbel. “It’s about knowing you have a duty to your fellow
citizens, whether that is helping a neighbor across the street or
volunteering with an NGO. Our goal is to create a culture on campus
where civic engagement becomes second nature to AUC students.”
Civic Engagement Day was organized by the Lazord Youth Leadership
Academy in collaboration with the following: 7th annual Excellence in
Undergraduate Research, Entrepreneurship and Creative Achievement
(EURECA) Conference; Career Advertising and Placement Services;
Department of Rhetoric and Composition; Office of Student Development;
Desert Development Center; Department of Sociology, Anthropology,
Psychology and Egyptology; Alashanek Ya Balady for Sustainable
Development; World Blood Donor Day; and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
To learn more about the Lazord Youth Leadership Academy, click here.