A journey to the center of Tunisian youths’ minds by Lina Azaiez, Tunisia

It started on a hot August night in 2016. It wasn’t an ordinary night. I felt lonely and stressed; summer was almost over and it was time to say goodbye to my older cousins and to my brother. I needed something to prove my existence, that my opinions mattered, that I was alive in a numb society. Suddenly, I saw an application on Facebook about a seven-day camp for the youth about educational reforms in Tunisia, the “Tunisian Youth Lead.” I felt concerned about such a serious issue in Tunisia. I followed my instinct and applied with no hesitation and with passion. Only a few weeks later I received an email: I got accepted to the program among 15 other young participants from all over the country. I was both excited and afraid to go through this experience. I had so many questions running through my head: “Am I able to fit in with the others? What if my contribution won’t matter?” However, I decided to go because it was the only way to make my voice heard and to answer my own questions. My parents were worried seeing their 16 year old, shy daughter wanting to join this camp, but they respected my decision and were very supportive. The journey started when I arrived to the high school where the summer camp would take place. I was very shy but quickly met new, amazing people with whom I found common passions. I had with them beautiful and unforgettable memories. During the camp, we had leadership, inspiration and English language sessions during which I had the opportunity to reflect on my dreams and my life goals. With my teammates we worked on a project that aims to boost our educational system. My favorite session was the leadership session because for the first time, I was able to overcome my fears and go beyond my comfort zone during public speaking. We listened to some inspirational stories that only pushed us to make a difference in our community even more. Seeing how everyone was coming from different backgrounds made us scared at the beginning, then I realized that this diversity was what made the workshop more interesting, and in spite of all these differences our passion and dreams had united us. “Tunisian Youth Lead” was for me a life changing experience, through which I learned the real meaning of education. I left the camp with the strength  to follow own goals and invest them for the sake of my society. Thanks to of this experience, I realized that all teenagers have skills that only need a catalyst and the necessary encouragement to appear and do astonishing things. The 25th of August, the date that the camp began was for me a second birth. I have grown so much since the experience, and now I feel responsible to pass the skills that I gained to other young people. This workshop made me believe that a brighter future is possible in this country, and thanks to it I am trying to make a change by joining the YaLa Young Leaders program.

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