• You Can Do Anything Using Coding

    When Maram Abu Hussein was accepted about three months ago to learn computer coding in Washington, D.C., she thought her good luck was an April Fool’s joke. Maram, from Jordan, is one of nearly 30 girls who traveled from the Middle East to the U.S. for the first time to participate in an immersive, three-week exchange program to learn about Java software and programming.

    Middle Eastern girls from countries like Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt learn about coding in Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State)

    The TechGirls program, administered by Legacy, started in 2011 under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is produced in collaboration with iD Tech, a provider of summer STEM courses, and TechGirls, a State Department initiative. It exposes girls from countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Yemen to technology and computer science. This is Legacy’s 4th year of successful MENA TechGirl programs.

    “You can do anything using programming,” Maram, a 16-year-old aspiring computer programmer, said Wednesday during a session at an American University hall. “If you learn Java, you can make any project for fun or for helping people.”

    Maram, who said she doesn’t take any technology classes in Jordan because they are too expensive, found out about the program — which is free with scholarships offered by iD Tech — through social media.

    “The first day, I didn’t really believe I was in D.C.,” she said with a smile.

    Read more about the TechGirls in this recent post, “Foreign Exchange Program Exposes Middle Eastern girls to Computer Coding”

    by Corinne Lestch at fedscoop.com

  • Advocate for Disabled Travels to Cyprus

    Garrett greets young children in Cyprus

    Garrett Brumfield travelled as chaperone with the American Youth Leadership Program. This program is highly inclusive with an equal number youths who are non-disabled and those with disabilities.

    It focuses on the theme of environment and climate change. Participants explore why sustainable management of resources is imperative, learn about careers in science, technology and environmental resource management, and work cooperatively with Cypriot peers to promote environmental stewardship.

    Garrett is used to challenge, and noted, “It was a life-changing event. I went out of my comfort zone.” He found that while it was hard to get around on the island, he was inspired to promote awareness for accessibility. He commented that people took note of him, as most had never seen a mobility scooter.

    AYLP participants in Cyprus - Summer 2015

    When he was asked, “What did you take away from the trip?” His reply, “I want to be an international advocate for the disabled. I want people to see [that] you can travel. Even if everything isn’t smooth, it works out.”

    Read interview with Garrett  by Cathy Benson of roanoke.com:  Brumfield of ‘Overcome Yours’ Travels with Legacy International to Cyprus”.

    AYLP is a leadership training and exchange program for U.S. high school students and adult mentors. It is supported by a grant from the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by Legacy International.

  • Four impressive TechGirls lead the way

    Four TechGirls continue to share their leadership skills and technology training while working to introduce their peers around the world to the new version of girls from the Middle East. The girls who have participated in the TechGirls program are technically savvy, dynamic go getters, who have hit the ground running. Having completed the program and returned to their countries they are creatively engaging others in their community involvement. Read the techgirlsblog on tumblr.

    ONE: TechGirl Ouafae Bousbaa’s E-Pal program takes off!

    Inspired by her intercultural exchanges with American youth in the TechGirls program, TechGirl Ouafae Bousbaa has launched a three week E-Pal program for American and Moroccan youth to share emails and video calls regarding their skills, interests, digital work, cultural experiences, and overall passion for science and technology.

    According to Ouafae, the goal of the program is “to strengthen the relations between Moroccan and American high school students in various dimensions…we are purely looking to join this group of people by creating a new generation of scientists, coders, artists and thinkers who believe in the universal sharing of ideas to build a better world. We also hope to boost the creativity of students in technology by working together on sharing tech skills and works.”

    TWO: A Peace Corps Volunteer’s Experience in Morocco

    TechGirl Radia Soulmani from Morocco hosted Joe, a Peace Corps Volunteer from Connecticut. He reflects on his experience with the TechGirls community.

    Upon first hearing of my Moroccan host family, I was told that they were all exceptional: both of my host parents were university professors and my host siblings were both fluent in Arabic, French, and English. After living with them for a month, I know that this is an understatement. In Morocco, they represent the shining potential for this developing nation. Among the host-country nationals I have met, Radia shines the brightest.  Read about the stories that Joe relates.

    He goes on to say, ”She [Radia] has credited the TechGirl program as her inspiration to establish her computer programming class, as her defining thought when considering the United States, and as the place where she met many of her friends in other Middle East and North African countries.  I feel proud that she is my host sister and she was afforded this opportunity to travel to and learn in America.”

    Watch video of Radia speaking about TechGirls and what she learned, “I can do the impossible”.

    THREE: TechGirl Imane Baha advocates for consumers of tech to become producers

    Being a part of a society is not only a right but a duty as well. The duty of supporting and cooperating, the duty of sharing, the duty of contributing to the social good…

    My name is Imane Baha. I belong to the Moroccan society. The Taza society (my city). The Bnu lYasmine’s society (my high school). The first mathematics baccalaureate students’ society (my class). My duty is to share my opportunities with other citizens who don’t get the chance to know or experience, my duty is to voice my opinion on what we need, and what we have to do in order to be better.

    This is the main reason why I realized, and am looking forward to delivering presentations/workshops about what I am passionate about: Technology……as a member of the Moroccan society, I say we have to benefit from the advantages of the most powerful tool of development; the dream achiever: Technology.

    FOUR: TechGirl Trains school girls in Film Production

    TechGirl Aya Mizher trained girls at her school in film production and editing to produce this terrific short piece that shows the beauty and history of Nablus, Jerusalem and Yafa.

    See Ava’s video and enjoy this amazing girls sense of vision.

  • Interview: The Libyan Dream

    The Moroccan Times – Intellectually Yours posted an interview with a Legacy alum who is active in helping to change civil society in Libya. The interview gives insights into the challenges for young people to promote change in society, especially those who are advocating for women’s rights as well as human rights.

    RABAT, Morocco- When the Arab spring sparked, no one was expecting that such a powerful and rich country as Libya will be the next on the list to the gallows. After almost three years of ups and downs, Libya, the North African country that was once considered the paradise land for thousands of migrants looking for a better life, turned into, unfortunately, a land where the mere Political stability became the first and foremost usher any Libyan citizen dreams of with the unveiling of 2015 .

    Mr.Youssef Gherradi interviewed on behalf of The Moroccan Times an active society member in Libya to put a spotlight on what is going on right now in the said country.  Our interviewee, whom we picked for her the name Fatema as for security reasons she is giving TMT this interview on the condition of anonymity, has shown a great interest in what is going now in the Arab world and told The Moroccan times that “education is what the Arab world truly needs to move forward.”

    The Moroccan Times: Could you please introduce yourself?

    Fatema: “Allow me first to put a spotlight on my background and where I came from. My name is Fatema. I am a Libyan ruble girl from Benghazi. I was born in a conservative family , but that fact did not stop me from speaking up and fighting for my rights, let alone being an active civil society member advocating for women and human rights.”

    The Moroccan Times: Recently, from what we see in the news, we have the impression that Libya has reached its lowest nadir. Could you please describe to our readers, as an on the ground eyewitness, the current situation?

    Fatema: “It is very difficult to describe the situation in detail as it could take me ages to shed some light on what is happening. To keep it short, I’ll just say that everyone is fighting for his own interests. I can’t see them fighting for Libya. They are destroying what Gaddafi left, and I mean by left what wasn’t destroyed after he gave up the reins of power.

    “The country is going through a civil war; every tribe wants to take revenge from the other one. Everyone wants to control the oil. We have two governments: one in the east and the other one in the west. They work at the same time. There is a war against the Islamic Militias in Benghazi and Derna [a port city in eastern Libya] but we didn’t see any results so far. The army is basically out of weapons, which make them so weak, ergo the situation has atrophied.

    “It has been three months now since this war kicked in Benghazi and all we can see is the bloodshed from two sides, let alone the many victims from civilians. There are many who lost their houses. To illustrate, 90% of Benghazi’s citizens are internally displaced people.

    “In a nutshell, there is only few people who were/are fighting for Libya and, unfortunately, even those very few ones were targeted or will be the next targets of militias.

    Continue reading interview here

  • Success in Foreign Service doesn’t come Easily

    Legacy Participant, Salman Haji

    NSLI-Y Arabic-Summer 2009-2010 Alum Salman Haji.

    Alumni Salman Haji credits his  NSLI-Y experience as the ultimate factor in making his decision to pursue international affairs and the U.S. Foreign Service. As a Legacy participant, four years ago completing NSLI-Y program, Haji was selected into the prestigious Pickering Fellowship program which seeks to support Americans from diverse backgrounds throughout their graduate school and ensures their entry into the Foreign Service.

    Haji also currently interns at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Office of English Language Programs where he focuses in the EUR (Europe and Eurasia) and NEA (Near East – Middle East and North Africa) regions. Haji offers encouragement to fellow alumni:

    “I’ve learned on the job that who you now know will later impact your life in a very crucial way – either in your career, personal or social lives. Success in the Foreign Service does not come easily  without networking with different groups of people, and it is vital to make these connections early in the career. I advise other NSLI-Y alumni to look out for opportunities. Don’t say that something is impossible. My dream as a NSLI-Y participant was to join the Foreign Service, to see the world, to learn languages, and to make a change. I was intimidated by joining the State Department and I didn’t think I would be able to pass the required tests and other criteria in order to become a Foreign Service Officer. But I applied to the Pickering Fellowship which has given me a future. As a NSLI-Y participant, you already have unique characteristics. Embody those, connect with others, look out for more opportunities to follow your dreams, and you will eventually get to where you want to be.” Read More

  • What motivates you to change?

    1.  How did participating in Legacy’s program impact your life?

    Nadia Rabbaa gives Award speech

    Participating in Legacy’s program changed my life. It opened me to a new world I did not know existed, which – and I realized this long after the program – was meant for me. The program groomed me into who I wanted to be : a successful change maker. It gave me the chance to build a long lasting network and professional relationships as well as the confidence I needed to trust myself. It taught me how to turn my desire to change the world into a concrete impact-full project. But even more that that it helped me discover my calling and this is priceless.

    2.  It has been two years since you participated in the Legislative Fellows Program, what can you see now about yourself, the program, or your country that you didn’t see before participating? Read More

  • A Legacy of Human Rights

    “My vision is to empower young girls through education. I believe women should have complete access to basic education as a fundamental human right. Libya desperately needs more educated women to fight against GBV issues [gender-based violence] and for women’s right issues. In short, I believe women must be educated to know what to say and what to fight for, because they are simply the best advocates for their rights.” – Amna Salak

    Upon returning to Libya after participating in the Legislative Fellows Program, Amna started  the “iRead Campaign”. Her project brought her passion for young women’s education to the most underserved population in her country:  Refugees living in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDB) camps outside of Benghazi (where Amna lives).

    Amna's team goes door to door to survey families

    Due to her previous work with the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugee agency (UNHCR) agency,  she was aware that many of the children living in these camps, and particularly the young girls, either did not have access to education or were not allowed to attend school.  Her campaign, began with a door-to-door interview of every family in the three IDB camps around Benghazi (a total of 299 interviews).  A team of ten volunteers participated asking each family about their children’s attendance in school and any obstacles they face. Read More

  • Sensory Garden for Vision Impaired

    youth environmentalist,

    Tari sets out plants in the Sensory Garden

    Inspired by the garden that she visited in the United States , Tari began  the Sensory Garden Project at her school, Bandung School for the Vision-Impaired. It is the first sensory garden built in a school and  has become a trusted model for other special schools throughout Indonesia.  Tari was a participant in the Indonesia-US Youth Leadership program and despite her disability, participated fully in the program activities and the follow on project requirements at her own school.

    She said “During the host family phase in the U.S., my host parent took me to the community garden. She was introducing me to many different plants by reading the information label on each plant while letting me to touch and smell it. I never visited a garden with such labels before, and it was not only nice but also made me excited to learn more about plants and the environment. I believe my friends and all school members would feel the same, how can we preserve the environment if we even don’t have an access to get to know it? So, providing a garden with braille labels at our school could be the first step to introduce the environment.” Read More

  • A Legacy of Helping the Poor

    “When Khalid, Maryam and I returned to Baghdad after Legacy’s Iraqi Youth Leadership Program, (IYLEP) in US, we decided to start a project that helps poor people in Baghdad.  We looked for students in our schools that have the same interests. We were really surprised to get support from a lot of the students.”

    U.S. Department of StateWritten by  Abdulaziz Alazzawi in collaboration with Khalid Waleed Aboud and Maryam Ali Ghazala

    The IYLEP program is supported by the US Embassy Baghdad and administered by Meridian International in partnership with Legacy International.

    Iraqi Young Leaders help the poor

    Young Iraqi leaders bring aid to poor neighborhoods in Baghdad

    They continue describing their project: “We collected used clothes and contributions from neighbors, friends and family in a 2-week period.  We chose a neighborhood where poverty is really high.  In order to distribute the goods, we have to get permission of police and be escorted.

    Unfortunately distribution points where many people gather to receive charity are often the targets of terrorist groups.   The police were not helpful but one of our cousins recommended we approach the Iraqi army.  The army wants to build up and encourage more civic action. So we made a search for the areas in Baghdad that are under control of the army. We found really poor families living in houses made of mud. Read More

  • Oyster Reef Balls Impact Community

    Sindhu at Sea Turtle Conservation Center, Indonesia

    Sindhu Chidambaram is a high school senior in the Global Ecology Magnet Program at Poolesville High School in Poolesville, MD. Last summer she traveled to Indonesia as a participant in Legacy’s Indonesia-US Youth Leadership Exchange program where she visited several environmental projects, like saving sea turtles and tree reforestation projects, and  eroded beach restoration.

    As a result of her training in the program and during the Global Youth Village environmental workshops, she was able to develop the Oyster Reef Ball Project which directly impacted 165 people, and reached more than 4,000 indirectly. Read More