Recently, Zied Touzani, President of a Tunisian NGO, Tun’Act was a visiting fellow in Legacy’s Professional Fellows Program (PFP). He was chosen to participate in this two-way citizen exchange program, which is a capacity-building and professional development initiative, as one of the 16 delegates from Tunisia and Morocco who show leadership skills and  work in civil society organizations.

“In my country half the population is under 30 years old but only 4.5% of them registered in the last election….I think that the youth inclusion in the society is the most challenging problem facing Tunisia because it’s a multi-dimensional problem. My vision for Tunisia in 10 years will be that this tiny country becomes a political, economic and social model for all the Arab region. We don’t have natural resources but we have educated people and if until now the democratic process didn’t stop its thanks to that asset.”

Tun’Act is a non-profit organization, non-partisan, education for citizenship and debate, which encourages young Tunisians to participate in the political life of their country and develops youth citizenship awareness.

As part of his fellowship Zied participated in a month-long placement with mentors at the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) in Washington, DC. Placements for fellows include service organizations, advocacy groups, grassroots organizations, federal agencies, and congressional offices. FPI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes continued U.S. engagement—diplomatic, economic, and military—in the world and rejects policies that lead to isolationism. It gives robust support for America’s democratic allies and opposition to rogue regimes that threaten American interests.

“Allying with Tunisia will help the U.S. better address its problems in the Middle East and North Africa.”

May 20, 2015 –  President Obama meets with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi

In his blogpost, Tunisia is a North African Country,  he remarks, “It’s fantastic that Tunisia is the only democracy in the Middle-East? In fact Tunisia isn’t in the Middle East, but in North Africa. This common mistake made by lots of DC think tank policy analysts reflects how little US elites have knowledge about Tunisia.”

During his stay in the U.S., Zied wrote an article that was posted on, “A Worthwhile Investment”. He  wrote: “Today, the ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen commands far more attention than events in Tunisia. Yet strategically, democratic Tunisia may be for more important for U.S. national security and the future of the Arab world. As in 1943, success in Tunisia may become a turning point for the democratic cause.

Zied has returned to Tunisia where he will be working on his follow on project to further his optimistic vision of Tunisia’s evolving democracy. Learn more from other selected Fellows at the Professional Fellows Program website.

PFP is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by Legacy International with assistance from  multiple in-country partners from the North African region.