Georgetown CIED organized and implemented the MEPI Student Leaders alumni professional development conference for the 2015 cohort in Istanbul, Turkey March 9-12, 2016. Ninety-two students who completed their six-week leadership program in the summer of 2105 participated in the conference to continue developing their civic engagement skills and present their community development projects.
The event began with a keynote address by Karam Alhamad, a Syrian photojournalist and activist. Over the course of the next several days, MEPI alumni and US youth leader panelists shared the projects that they are working on. Highlights included Aymen Abderrahmen, a Tunisian journalist giving voice to the Libyan diaspora and Mohamed Bawazir, one of the founders of “Talents of Hadhramout” initiative, which is an incubator for young Yemeni artists to foster and develop their talents.
On the final day of the conference, the students participated in sessions designed to strengthen their leadership skills. Areen Shahbari, a Palestinian-Israeli journalist and scholar, led sessions on effective communication and Elle Fersan, a Lebanese civil society activist, provided students with new skills and techniques related to program development. Following a very emotional closing ceremony, everyone took part in a farewell dinner.
The MEPI Student Leaders Program is a U.S. Department of State sponsored exchange program for undergraduate student leaders from the Middle East and North Africa. The CIED-designed curriculum allows students to develop leadership skills and expand their understanding of civil society and democratic leadership.