A wellspring of talent and potential, Saudi youth, like their peers across the Middle East, are increasingly interested and engaged in their communities, their country and the world around them. Channeling this creative energy, a highly impressive group of young Saudi Arabian university students recently spent three weeks in the United States as part of the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP). An initiative of the US Embassy in Riyadh and organized by the non-profit Legacy International, this program brought together 34 leaders in the making from across Saudi Arabia for an intensive leadership and community service training experience.
The undergraduate students spent time in Washington D.C. before splitting off into smaller groups for 10 days of community immersion in three American cities. Part of the program included a weekend home stay with American families and site visits to local non-profits engaged in community service. Students met with an impressive and diverse array of speakers, including Barakabits’ own Rama Chakaki, who led a training session on harnessing social media and positive messaging for social good.
The participants in this year’s first ever Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program came away with a newfound understanding of leadership and enthusiasm for serving their communities. As participant Maha Aba Hussain put it, “SYLEP wasn’t only a leadership program, it was a life changing experience that exposed us to different cultures and values”. Back home in Saudi Arabia, they are now working on implementing their own follow-on community or university based projects. Expect great things to come from #SYLEP alumni!