University life is a time rich in opportunities for students who aspire to be global changemakers and help create a better world.
Several international organisations sponsor activities that students around the world, including in the Arab region, can join as volunteers, teachers, or social innovators and entrepreneurs.
In this article, Al-Fanar Media presents a short list of four such organisations.
Hult Prize for Social Entrepreneurship
The Hult Prize challenges young people to propose creative ideas for solving pressing world issues through social entrepreneurship. Every year, one team receives $1 million in funding to make their idea a reality.
In partnership with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, the Hult Prize Foundation chooses a different theme for each year’s challenge.
Student entrepreneurs build teams that create enterprises that will have a measurable positive impact on people and the planet, and will contribute to meeting one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
The 2023 challenge focuses on the fashion industry. It asks competitors to launch an innovative social venture in the clothing and fashion industry to make it more sustainable. The initial submissions period is open through March 1. A guidebook describing how to join the competition is available on the foundation’s website.
The non-profit Hult Prize Foundation has been active in many campuses in Arab countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
A team from New York University Abu Dhabi won the 2012 prize for a concept that provides solar lamps to people in communities that lack electricity. Sudan’s Al-Neelain University won a “best organising programme” award in the 2022 competition.
AIESEC: Travel to Teach and Learn
AIESEC is a non-political, non-profit organisation that seeks to foster the values of peace and fulfillment of human potential around the world by creating opportunities for young leaders to work as volunteers, interns or teachers.
The organisation was formed just after World War II by seven youth of various nationalities who dreamed of building a bridge of understanding between cultures. The organisation they launched in 1948 as the Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales is now known simply as AIESEC.
AIESEC provides opportunities for university students and other young people to travel to foreign countries and work in volunteer or paid positions. The organisation covers accommodation costs and provides logistical support, while participants bear the cost of their own travel tickets and personal expenses.
Participants can apply to join one of three AIESEC programmes:
Global Volunteer: This programme provides young people between the ages of 18 and 24 with opportunities to volunteer in a country of their choice for a period ranging from six to eight weeks.
Global Talent: This programme is for young people between the ages of 19 and 30 who wish to develop their leadership skills through professional internships abroad in sectors like education, information technology, and marketing and business. Participants receive a monthly salary for a period ranging from nine weeks up to 78 weeks.
Global Teacher: Also for people between the ages of 19 and 30, this programme provides opportunities to teach abroad in a school or educational institution. Most of the opportunities are for English teachers, but additional subjects are represented, too, including French, German, science, sports, and dance.
Enactus: Promoting Social Innovation
Enactus is a nonprofit experiential learning platform dedicated to creating a better world while developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and social innovators.
With chapters on 1,730 campuses in 37 countries, Enactus provides opportunities for university students to gain experience in using entrepreneurship and innovation to solve global problems.
University teams develop projects that aim to have a positive impact on people and the planet while advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. The teams compete nationally for a chance to advance to the Enactus World Cup.
A team from Ain Shams University, representing Enactus Egypt, won first place in the 2022 World Cup, held last fall in Puerto Rico. The team’s winning project was based on environmentally friendly uses of crayfish shells, including extracting a substance useful in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, and providing poultry feed.
Enactus works in several Arab countries, including Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. To find a team, or get information about starting one, click here.
Model United Nations
The United Nations’ Model UN programme gives students a chance to build relationships with participants across the globe while developing diplomacy skills and gaining an understanding of how the international organisation operates.
Model UN simulations take place at independently organised conferences around the world, giving thousands of students aged roughly 13 to 21 opportunities to develop research skills as they discuss and seek to build consensus around important international issues. During the debates, students represent different points of view, which requires them to conduct hands-on research to get acquainted with the details of the issue under discussion.
The conferences also provide opportunities for young people to develop soft skills like public speaking, persuasion, teamwork, and consensus building.
A Model UN programme at the Lebanese American University regularly draws thousands of high school students to its Beirut campus. A Model UN conference was also held during the final week of Dubai Expo last year.
For more information on how to attend a Model United Nations conference or contribute to the work of the U.N. as a student, see this page on the United Nations website.
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