How to create change by Raghda s. Elziyadi – Libya.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

This quote was on brochure that one of my mentors, at a summer exchange program in the USA gave me. The program that I participated in was about conflict resolution and peace building; it gave me the chance to meet great people and open doors for new friendships. I was also inspired to make a change in my community by using the skills I gained during the program . Right after I came back from the “Christopher Stevens youth network exchange program” and I was motivated to address endemic corruption, nepotism, political oppression and other deep-seeded issues that lie at the roots of youth marginalization. I knew it would not happen simply just with a new head of state or even a new constitution. It required involvement in CSO’s and civic engagement projects.

I took the advantage of my experience to start a project that involves youth in Tripoli.  Our goal was to incorporate dialogue sessions into the school system. In 2013 I reached to over 5 public schools and I got positive responses both from girl schools and boy schools. I was extremely excited to start the program. It was launched for freshmen students in each school, it started with ice breakers mostly (names and small description of each individual) just to break the ice between the students. We also put the students in groups and we gave a problem, we asked them to work together  to find a resourceful solution. I could  see the outcomes of this sessions; how well most students worked with each other, even though it was their first time to work in teams. For the second exercise they were paired randomly each one had to share a story or situation they’ve been through, which I thought was valuable to improve self expression and communication between students. Later on they formed a circle and each student had to share the stories they learned about each other, this exercise’s purpose was to encourage public speech for the students. The next task was to form groups and make them create a dialogue and act out the situation in a roll play to find a non violent way to deal with the issue.

I remember many students were shy to act in front of their class mates and I was proud of the amount of support they received from the students class and faculty. The last exercise was for them to form a circle with some faculty members, each student had to share an issue that bothered them about the school system and they had to present a solution that involve teachers and the faculty. As the project came to an end I created an envelope for each student with their names on it and the students had to write a letter to each other. they could open the envelope and read the letters as soon as they get home. On the 25th of January 2016 I went back to the schools where I had launched the project, I was amazed of the major improvements that were made. The students even opened a drama club so most students displayed their passion for the performing arts, there was a variety of extra school activities. The first football tournament was organized in the school, which many found  exciting, also a student union was formed and each class picked a class president to raise their complaints and work to change certain issues with the corporation of the faculty.

I was surprised to see the changes in some teachers approach, they were now more open to group projects. From this experience. The students felt empowered and gained many skills. I’m positively affected by this experience, I’m constantly reminded by the quote I wrote at the beginning of this story. It has helped me to explore and exploit opportunities to create social value by stimulating social change. It also provided me with a clear vision on how to make improvement in my future profession, in addition to improve the education system. I personally believe it has unlocked my individual potential, and provided me with the essential tools to face challenges head-on, gaining the ability to empower community members to create social change, and it has inspired me to use my skills and knowledge to be the change I wish to see in the world.

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