February 21, 2018

Creating Civic Leaders of Communities

“The civic leadership workshop not only boosted my self-confidence, it also widened my horizons and showed me I have talents that I wasn’t even aware of. I am confident this will help me land jobs!”

Alaa Pijo, a 20 year old student studying Information and Technology at Makhzoumi Foundation in Lebanon, was one of the active student participants of the Civic Leadership training in the summer of 2017.

The 6 week training is offered to all
Dynamic Futures & Higher Education for Syrians scholarship students as part of the scholarship package provided by SPARK, Al Fakhoora and EU Madad. Aside from providing grants to cover tuition fees, the Dynamic Futures package offers extra-curricular courses, including civic leadership training, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship training, plus a variety of student services such as counselling and PSS support, orientation sessions, and English language courses.

The Civic Leadership workshops, implemented throughout Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, focus on the skills needed to become a leader of civic engagement. More than 10 initiatives in Lebanon alone were implemented in the student’s communities as a result of these workshops, such as a tree planting project in Bekaa where students planted 10 saplings to improve their neighbourhood.

Another group offered one full day of free ICT training to the public. Other students had the idea to create a mural out of recycled materials on the wall of MAPS building – SPARK’s local partner. The same students went on to formalise their group, calling it ‘Mozaic’, and has started to produce decorative, up-cycled murals elsewhere in Lebanon on commission.

Students were recently invited to the Civic Leadership Awarding Ceremonies to receive their workshop completion certificates at AUST University in Beirut and Bekaa. The dual ceremonies offered the students great opportunities to meet new people and benefit from inspirational speakers. 

Yasmin Nosseir, Civic Leadership trainer in Lebanon, recalled some of the initiatives that the students designed and implemented as an outcome of the Civic Leadership workshop: “None of us can forget the psycho-social support project implemented by SPARK for students with kids who have suffered trauma. None of us can forget the group work and efforts devoted to planning the distribution of clothes to poor families in Bekaa, nor the reconstruction of demolished houses project.”

Ghassan and Georges were invited to provide students with some entrepreneurship inspiration. They are the founders of the startup app, Yallabus, which aims to be the first bus assistant platform in Lebanon. They explained the rocky start and how they’ve managed to set in place their own start-up at a very young age. “No one turns their back on the youth”, said Ghassan while encouraging the students not to give up easily, and to broaden their horizons to seek help and advice whenever needed.

Similarly, Jean-Paul Shami, Director of Peace Labs, advised students to: “balance your decisions between your hearts and minds”. Shami delivered an interactive intervention workshop, with a Q&A and storytelling session, which conveyed the importance of resilience and leadership for success.

The day ended the day with the certificate awarding ceremony for trainers and students. The whole room gathered for a smiling group picture and the sounds of chatter and excitement erupted when the next phase of the civic leadership workshops were announced. Watch this space, the students will be the future leaders of their communities!

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