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A Journey of Leadership and Community Engagement of Bahraini Students

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The summer has been exciting for six exceptional Bahraini students who had the privilege of participating in the US Embassy’s Student Leaders Programme under its Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). These students embarked on a transformative journey, spending a month at a prestigious American university, learning about leadership and civic engagement strategies, volunteering, touring, and meeting friends from around the region. During their stay at the university, the students were exposed to a diverse range of academic, cultural, and social activities. The programme allowed them to explore their academic interests and build connections with other talented individuals from around the world. Now, they are back in Bahrain, using their experiences to drive impactful community engagement projects.

In an exclusive interview with Bahrain This Week, these shining stars—Tariq Aujjan, Abeer Abuhussaien, Zahra Fadul, Lateefa Saeed, Sara Kowayed, and Mohammed Khaled Moosa shared their experiences, reflecting on the valuable knowledge, skills, and connections they gained during their time in the US. They described the experience as a “life-changing opportunity”.

The students highlighted their exposure to different cultures and perspectives, noting that they found themselves immersed in an environment that encouraged diversity, collaboration, and open dialogue. Interacting with students from various backgrounds broadened their horizons and challenged their assumptions about the world, especially the region, they said. The students also had the unique opportunity to engage with families in the US, thus learning and sharing cultures. They shared about the cherished friendships they formed with fellow students and the bonds they forged during their time in the US. Now back in Bahrain, the students are utilising their newfound knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on their communities. Through their civic engagement projects, they aim to inspire change and elevate society.

Sara is focusing on empowering female entrepreneurs by establishing a mentorship program. She has come up with a green initiative for women, creatively titled ‘Green Shepreneurship’.

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“It is about women, green, and business; I want to target women by providing them with consultations on helping them use recycled products in businesses,” said the business graduate who attended Georgetown University.

“This can be done through workshops that will change their mindset in order to change their materials to recyclable materials.”

Tariq, who attended the University of Delaware, is passionate about promoting sexual health education in the community. He intends to organise awareness campaigns, educational workshops, and support groups to create a supportive community for the project.

“Personally speaking, I believe that there is a lack of sexual health education, and as healthcare professionals, we do have a responsibility to protect our patients,” said the third-year medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

“A lot of serious illnesses come from sexual health. It’s important that we understand this and how to create a safe and comfortable environment for people to discuss it. My objective is to bring in medical and nursing student societies to come in for workshops and receive lectures and seminars by professionals who have seen the field on how to address sexual health concerns and how to further educate on safer sex practices.”

Zahra’s project is about older and retired citizens and how to engage them in the community.

“My thought is to help engage them in society through events and workshops and to entertain their time by doing something fun or useful,” said the business and marketing graduate who attended Montana State University. Lateefa, a web media graduate who attended Portland State University, said she did research on several topics before finalising a project on the population aged below 18 years. She is working on an initiative to promote awareness and sustainability practices among these young adults.

“This category is energetically young and can do much, but they actually don’t have space as most of the clubs and sporting places are restricted for their age group. My civic engagement is to include them by educating them in practical ways so that we catch them young. It is a fully practical way of making them aware of what’s happening around them so that they are ready to embrace a promising lifestyle.”

Abeer’s civic plan focuses on unemployment and helping youth gain exposure to diverse sectors. “Often we find the choices of employment opted for by youngsters are limited, as in business or engineering in Bahrain. But there are so many different industries with a lot of opportunities. My aim is to get them the ideas and information they need to help find better opportunities in positions that are uncommon.” Abeer, an international logistics management graduate, attended Montana State University. Mohammed, A final semester student at the Bahrain Polytechnic, Mohammed who attended Georgetown University is a true blue Bahraini with a passion for sea-related activities.

“I have centered my community involvement strategy on addressing the issue of sea pollution and promoting actionable solutions. My objective is to arrange clean-up initiatives and foster a culture of sustainable living as effective means to combat the problem of sea pollution.”

The prestigious exchange programme is among the many offered by the US Embassy in Manama and provides Bahraini students with educational experience in the US. It aims to nurture leadership skills and promote crosscultural understanding. The participation of these students in the programme has not only broadened their personal perspectives but also equipped them with the necessary skills to make a difference in their society. Their experiences in the US empowered them to think globally and act locally. As they work on their community engagement projects, they serve as shining examples of youth leadership, demonstrating the positive impact that international exchange programmes can have on individuals and their communities.

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