Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Voice of Arab Youth Initiative

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Voice of Arab Youth Initiative

Article excerpt

On Jan. 29 Al-Hewar Center and the Academy for Educational Development held an open discussion at AED's Washington, DC headquarters to unveil a new initiative, "Voice of Arab Youth." Founded by youth from the Arab world and the United States, the ambitious project seeks to empower Arab youth and give them a chance to make a difference in their communities.

Voice of Arab Youth director and co-founder Fadi Elsalameen, a Palestinian student at Earlham College in Indiana, said he was inspired to create the project by one of his mentors, the late Dr. Edward Said. "Edward Said fought to make sure the world sees Arabs and Muslims as they truly are--as people," Elsalameen explained. Having recently returned from a trip to the West Bank, where he grew up, Elsalameen said that when he spoke with his peers there, "all they said was they refused to be portrayed as others say they are."

Elsalameen added that he hopes his project will present the West with positive images of Arab youth to counter the negative representations that are all too common now.

Maryah Al-Dafa, daughter of Qatar Ambassador to the United States Bader Al-Dafa and a Georgetown University student who helped found the project, said she hopes it will show "the potential of Arab youth in leadership and community service."

Gregory Valadie, an AED youth development specialist and one of the program organizers, explained the various steps--beginning with a broad 12-hour Internet webcast which will facilitate the formation of a network of young Arabs. Through the webcast, Valadie said, "we hope to expose as many youths as possible to the project."

The second part of the project will feature a workshop training program for selected youth from all over the Arab world. To be held in Jordan, the workshop will provide participants with skills related to community outreach, journalism, and other categories. …

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