Tomorrow's Leaders Programs Newsletter - Spring 2022
Tomorrow’s Leaders (TL) Annual Symposium
In its second edition, the Tomorrow’s Leaders Annual Symposium presented research findings and highlighted efforts made by community-led initiatives concerning two Sustainable Development Goals: goal 4 (quality education) and goal 5 (gender equality). In addition, students organized an open art gallery that ran throughout the day of the event. TL graduate and undergraduate students and gender scholars had democratically elected a chairperson and collectively chose the theme of community-led initiatives that address gender and education. Accordingly, TL students researched the topic and discussed their findings and recommendations with the symposium’s attendees. These included AUC’s president and provost, students, faculty and staff members, in addition to panelists and guests from the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and other civil society representatives.
Tomorrow's Leaders Graduate Students Program (TLG) Leadership Camp
TLG students went to Tunis Village, Fayyoum, to take part in a leadership camp that focused on community engagement and rural gender awareness. Throughout the two-day camp, students participated in several activities that adopted a participatory leadership approach. The camp culminated in a case study and a visit to Ezbet Sayedna Al-Khedr, where students conducted focus groups with working women from the village. The students worked on identifying the women’s problems, exchanging knowledge and solutions on how to improve the women’s livelihoods and how to positively impact the village’s economic conditions.
Happy Yemen Initiative - Hands in Hands
Reem Al Sulaimani, Shaimaa Almonefie and Sumood Al Bahlouli (TLG students from Yemen) collaborated with the Happy Yemen Initiative and the Hands in Hands project to motivate underprivileged students and refugees to learn English. The project aimed to help open doors to employment opportunities and personal development for the students and encourage them to continue to learn regardless of their age, profession or social status. The fees for the monthlong course were partially covered by collecting donations. During the project, TLG students worked with 49 students from Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt. At the end of the course, the students received their participation certificates, and the closing ceremony included motivational speeches about their experiences. Almonefie reflected on the experience, stating, “the real gain was to spread my own learnings to others, and it is a great feeling to give back to my community.” For more information about the Happy Yemen Initiative, check this link.
Gender: Between Religion and Tradition
In this session, Nehad Abulkomsan, senior lawyer and gender and development consultant, discussed gender from a religious perspective and pointed out the numerous misconceptions revolving around women’s rights in Islam. Abulkomsan also talked about the development of laws pertaining to women’s rights and the areas of improvement in the Egyptian legal system, including female genital mutilation, Egyptian women occupying the positions of judges and inheritance laws. Students were able to engage and critically examine cultural and religious arguments that hinder gender equality. At the end of the session, Abulkomsan advised the students to research, discuss and investigate gender-related societal issues and stressed the need for being informed and vocal about injustice toward women. Positive feedback was received from the students on how the session was helpful and engaging. One student mentioned that “Now I can respond to many controversial topics with a clear mindset,” while another student mentioned that she could use the information regarding gender equality in the workplace.
Mobile Filmmaking Workshops
In cooperation with MADEV, TLS and TLU students participated in a filmmaking workshop where they created audio-visual projects on gender issues and self-knowledge.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Undergraduate Program students participated in AUC’s EURECA conference. Mirna Hamdan (Jordan) presented her research paper, titled “Non-Violent Resistance: The History of Palestinian Women’s Movement.” Likewise, Alaa Aoun (Lebanon) presented her research paper titled “The Factors Behind the Math-Gender Gap”. Also, Walid Zarrad (Tunisia) presented a paper titled “Dreaming Anthropology: How to Do Fieldwork with Your Eyes Closed?”. In his paper, Zarrad examined the extent to which dreams reflect an individual’s or a community’s experiences and emotions. He highlighted how researchers’ dreams might impact their objectivity during fieldwork. Furthermore, he discussed the possibility of transforming dreams into tangible conclusions in ethnographic research.
“It is fascinating to answer one of my childhood questions in a research paper, especially when the topic is related to two SDGs, namely 4 and 5 (quality education and gender equality, respectively). I enjoyed participating in the EURECA conference this year, especially since it was face to face, and I had the chance to connect with people. I'm looking forward to finding more female mathematicians in the Arab region!" — Alaa Aoun, Lebanon
“I presented a paper that I hold close to my heart, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fulfillment this brought me. I had to summarize months of work into a 20-minute presentation, and that reminded me of my goal behind academia: to make knowledge accessible. This was excellent practice,” — Walid Zarrad, Tunisia
Tomorrow’s Leaders From College to Work Pipeline (TLP)
Kicking off at AUC this spring, TLP provides a pipeline for TL students to find meaningful employment and leadership opportunities in their areas of interest or launch their startups upon graduation to become future employers. TLP students participated in a design thinking workshop organized by AUC’s Center for Learning and Teaching to build the students’ capacity for planning and implementing their projects.
Learn about TLP’s first cohort projects by watching this video.
Gender Policy-Integration Workshop
A new group consisting of AUC students, faculty and staff is spearheading an effort to review the University’s gender-related policies to ensure inclusivity, equity, diversity and care for the entire community. Initiated by the Tomorrow’s Leaders Gender Scholars Program, the Gender Policy Working Group is the product of a TLS training titled Gender Policy-Integration: The Why and How? The training, which took place in March, aimed to support gender mainstreaming — or realizing gender equity — on the policy, process and procedures levels. From budgeting and human resources procedures to the design of academic programs, the group will strive to maintain AUC’s role as a model for other universities and an active player in combating gender stereotyping and discrimination as AUC President Ahmed Dallal explained earlier in March.
Academy for Liberal Arts Award
TLG student Wasim Dia (Syria), studying migration and refugee studies, received an award for academic excellence at the Academy of Liberal Arts Honors Assembly on April 13.
Map the System
Salah Boulenouar (Algeria), Yasmine Sameh (Egypt) and Zeina Shalaby (Egypt) took part in the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship’s Map the System competition, delivered in partnership with educational institutions around the world. Map the System’s key message is to move the conversation on socially impactful education toward a deeper focus on understanding complex problems as the foundation for driving transformational change. The students’ project, titled Structural and Cultural Barriers to the Employment of Young Egyptian Women with University Degrees, allowed them to study the reasons behind the wide gender gap in employment in Egypt, wearing interdisciplinary hats of both economists and sociologists.
“Spending more than three months between desk research and fieldwork to examine the unemployment of young educated women in Egypt, we were engaged in an ongoing process of identifying and connecting the different elements of the issue. The deeper our research hit, the more we understood why a systems-level issue is complex and how systems thinking can be applied to navigate this complexity.” — Zeina Shalaby, Egypt
UN Youth Delegate Program
TLG student Shaima Elmonefie (Yemen) and TLU student Mirna Hamdan (Jordan) joined the UN Youth Delegate Programme. This three-month intensive leadership program aims to develop young people, provide them with change-making skills and prepare them to achieve the UN’s SDGs by 2030. In this program, young people connect with like-minded leaders from around the world, enabling the participants to take collaborative actions for a better world.
“Participating in such a program was unexpected for me. I didn't imagine myself communicating with people from all around the world. It has been an amazing and enriching experience that gave me the opportunity to learn more about social development, leadership and how we as youth can participate in the decision-making process, which is the priority of the United Nations agenda.” — Mirna Hamdan, Jordan
Futurize Your Course
TLS student Amy Issac (Egypt) won second place at EURECA’s Futurize Your Course competition, which encourages students to develop an idea for either a brand-new course to be implemented or reimagine what an already existing course might look like in the future. Isaac’s proposed course, named Body Dynamics, consists of three main sections: gender and sexuality education, eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder, and psychosomatics. Each section is, in turn, tackled from three perspectives: physiological, cultural and practical.
“The course focuses on the dynamics of our bodies that we don’t get to learn about in our community due to the societal taboo. It was a great opportunity to be part of this competition where one gets to express the missing parts they see and live the education they wish to have in 20 years and normalize it now. The greatest thing, in my opinion, is making a change in people's lives and breaking a taboo that has long been standing with no examination.” — Amy Issac
TLG Student at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Cairo
Hiba Belhadj (Tunisia) is doing an internship at the International Organization for Migration in Cairo as a migration protection and assistance officer, which will help her build and expand her network, gain direct exposure to migrants and gain practical experience within her field of study and research.
“Getting direct exposure to migrants and the working of the organization made me more aware and certain of the academic choice I have made. Before joining IOM, I liked to see the world through the lenses of migration and human mobility in general. This internship has just added another layer to the field I love and brought me closer to the population I want to serve. I have learned a lot over the past months, and I am extremely humbled by this experience.” — Hiba Belhadj (Tunisia)
TLU Student at Netherlands Education Group
Having been a fellow at the Netherlands Education Group programs, TLU student Bachir Hafsi (Algeria) did some market research on various organizations and platforms that provide opportunities for young people, such as scholarships, internships, fellowships, etc. Hafsi also utilized social media to promote the Netherlands Education Group programs
“I worked on communicating with local partners and reaching out to new collaborators to expand the entity's network. I got a glimpse of the different marketing strategies that companies adapt to advertise their work and how they expand their network.” — Bachir Hafsi (Algeria)
Making TL Proud
TL alumnus Ashraf Sabkha ’15 (Libya) is the first Libyan to be named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, a prestigious graduate-level scholarship program at Stanford University. Sabkha is pursuing a master's degree in international policy at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. Sabkha graduated summa cum laude from AUC with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and double minors in economics and international affairs. Later, Sabkha was awarded a scholarship to the University of Oxford, from which he received a master's degree in public policy. Sabkha led his teams when participating in startup and product design competitions with NASA, PepsiCo and Clinton Global Initiative, among others. This fueled his interest in entrepreneurship and using technology to strengthen community building and empower structural change. Ashraf’s work on COP22 with the World Bank Group inspired him to develop global strategies at an energy conglomerate and aspire to lead the energy transition and economic diversification process in Libya.
Staff and Faculty Coner
Modeling Ongoing Learning
Feeby Ramzy (MA ’22), manager, TL Finance, successfully completed her Master of Arts in economics in international development in June 2022.
Assistant Professor and TLU Academic Director Hakim Meshreki (MBA '05) is the recipient of AUC's 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award.