Posted by Guest on July 12, 2018 in Blog

By Allison Ulven

On Wednesday night, AAI hosted a networking event with students from Georgetown University’s Student Leaders Program, which is supported by the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Students from Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and West Bank and Gaza visited the office for a meet-and-greet learn more about the work of the Institute.

Looking to develop the leadership skills of its participants, the program teaches students to build relationships between citizens, civil society, and the government; to settle local issues; and gain a better understanding of democratic processes. Participants in the program go through six weeks of training to develop leadership skills and expand their understanding of civil society and participatory governance.

The event entailed “speed-networking,” where MEPI students were dispersed amongst different tables with a few AAI staff members and given only 10 minutes to talk before AAI staff switched tables. Although the conversations were short, many were able to engage in meaningful interactions and establish connections. AAI staff had the opportunity to talk about the work they do as well as their personal stories of how they got involved in their field and why it is important to them. Members of MEPI shared their experiences participating in the program, being in America for the first time, and their plans to go back and implement change in their hometowns. The staff also gave the students, who are living in Georgetown for the duration of the program, advice on must-see attractions in D.C., the best restaurants to eat at, and free activities offered.

Both the students and AAI staff were enthusiastic about the event and took advantage of the few minutes they had and the room was filled with chatter the whole evening as tables engaged in discussions. Everyone walked away from the evening with a better understanding and fresher perspective on the lives and work of the people they met that evening.

Allison Ulven is a summer 2018 intern at the Arab American Institute.