International Scholarship Student Elected UN-Habitat Youth Adviser
AUC sophomore Amir Ben Ameur was recently elected to the United Nations-Habitat Youth Advisory Council as a post-conflict adviser.
A total of 93,000 votes were cast to elect 16 new members of the UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, including Ben Ameur, who is a Middle East Partnership Initiative Tomorrow's Leaders scholarship recipient (MEPI TL). Over the next four years, Ben Ameur will represent his peers on issues of urbanization at the regional and global levels.
For Ben Ameur, this new position comes at a time when youth activists are needed more than ever. “Nowadays, the world faces many challenges, like global warming, radical polarization and major conflicts," Ben Ameur explained. "I believe that youth engagement around the world is the only way to overcome these challenges and make the world a better place. The Youth Advisory Council is at a critical moment. We must help our peers have a voice in their societies and around the world.”
An international student from Tunisia, Ben Ameur says the Arab Spring first sparked his passion for youth activism. “I got involved in social activism five years ago, because I felt something had to change for youth in my community," he said. "My story started in Tunisia after the revolution when there was a major boom in civil society, coming from the idea that a strong civil society is the cornerstone of any new democracy as a way to ensure sustainability and accountability.”
Inspired by Tunisia’s activist spirit, Ben Ameur founded WeYouth, a nongovernmental organization that promotes youth participation in education, leadership and civic engagement. “Youth were a key factor in Tunisia’s revolution, calling for social justice, protection of civil rights and better job opportunities," he reflected. "Therefore, advocating for youth issues is central for many Tunisian civil society organizations, like WeYouth."
Collaborating with international organizations, Ben Ameur explained how his focus has shifted from local to global. “I’ve had the opportunity to cooperate with international organizations and institutions like the United Nations Development Programme," he noted. "By fostering my interest in international work, I’ve come to believe that, alongside local leaders, the international community can really make change in our society and ensure sustainable development worldwide.”
Ben Ameur said he chose AUC because it offers the liberal arts education he needs to be a successful international leader. “As a MEPI TL student from Tunisia, I understand that my academics closely relate to my passion for social activism because education gives me tools I need to better contribute to my community. AUC’s liberal arts education taught me a lot about things I didn’t know before. I’ve taken courses that have changed the way I see the world, allowing me to excel in my academic, professional and extracurricular spheres,” he said.
The most important thing Ben Ameur has learned at AUC is how to connect academics with civic engagement. “When I first started at AUC, it was hard for me to balance between my studies and social work," he said. "Now I am not only managing both things, but also excelling at each of them. My studies here complement my passion for youth engagement and vice versa. AUC is unique because students don’t have to prioritize between either of these things. You can do both.”