A diverse group of Arab and American students have been invited to highlight their youth-led initiative on bridging cultures at the Arab Thought Foundation's 9th annual FIKR conference this year. The four students, one American and three Qatari, are alumni of the Qatar Foundation International's (QFI) exchange programs.
Held in Beirut, Lebanon on December 8-9, 2010, FIKR brings together leading cultural, intellectual, economic, humanitarian and political thinkers and leaders in a cross-cultural gathering in the Arab World. Leading world figures from America, Europe and Asia will also be attending along with their Arab counterparts. The FIKR Conference theme for 2010 is "Shaping the Future... Arabs' Role?" with a focus on promoting dialogue and free discussion on pressing issues facing the Arab region.
The students will present to the attendees "YALLAH: Youth Allied to Learn, Lead and Help "- an online forum for former participants in QFI exchange programs to join together for student-driven and expert-facilitated discussions on pertinent global topics and a platform for taking action locally to benefit others. The presentation will demonstrate how they are building a youth-led community of global citizens – male and females, Arabs and non-Arabs – who are able to navigate national differences, dispense with negative stereotypes and build stronger relations with their peers.
"At QFI we are always looking for opportunities to facilitate discussion and connections between diverse groups," said Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of QFI. "This time our students beat us to it and came up with YALLAH as an exciting and cutting edge way to promote dialogue between youth."
QFI has partnered with Meedan.net, a leader in online social networks that facilitate collaborations across languages, to develop custom hybrid translations on YALLAH's social learning platform, increasing the students' familiarity with both Arabic and English.