LAU students share leadership techniques with youth
School students in Tripoli and Sidon learn how to be agents of change in their society during a series of leadership training workshops led by LAU students.
Sarah Bou Ajram (left), coordinator of leadership and civic engagement at LAU, and Rindala Mikhael, secretary-general of the LAU High School MUN program and assistant to the OCE executive director, trained the LAU students before the launch of the program.
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A group of 20 LAU students recently traveled to South and North Lebanon in hopes of empowering local middle school children to become active citizens and unleash their potential.
After undergoing extensive training on how to impart leadership skills to other youths, the LAU students then brought their knowledge to around 250 grade 7 and 8 public and private school students in Tripoli and Sidon over the course of November and December.
The peer training initiative, called Youth Leadership School: “Youth Teach Youth,” was a collaborative effort between LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement unit and the Al Safadi Foundation, a Tripoli-based nonprofit organization specializing in civil society-building in Lebanon.
“This trust in the youth is paying off in terms of the formidable results that the training in leadership is producing,” says Elie Samia, OCE executive director. “Social transformation starts at the level of engaging youth in citizenship-building projects,” he adds.
The program’s overall goal was to help awaken the leader in students and inspire them to work toward developing their leadership skills.
The training sessions, given in both Arabic and English, touched on the emotional intelligence of leaders. They challenged students’ perceptions on the meaning of leadership, shedding light on the importance of humility, teamwork, character and learning, among other traits.
The sessions also gave students an introduction on the characteristics of leaders and the skills they possess, such as public speaking, listening and problem solving.
“It was great seeing the enthusiasm on the [school] students’ faces after starting the sessions, knowing that they have the potential to be great leaders but have thus far lacked motivation,” says 19-year-old Hala Hassan, a sophomore majoring in graphic design, who participated as a trainer in Sidon.
“Some of the best comments from the students were promises to use what we taught them later in their everyday activities,” Hassan adds.
Studies have shown that youth aged 12 to 14 are more receptive to leadership training and more likely to adopt the characteristics needed to cultivate a culture of peace, innovation and communication, according to Riad Alameddine, general manager of Al Safadi Foundation.
“We are definitely looking forward to be working with [youth] in the future in order to help in transforming them into tomorrow’s leaders,” Alameddine says.
Over 100 students from 27 schools in Sidon participated in the training program at the city’s Nebras Foundation on December 11 and 18, while more than 140 from 27 schools in Tripoli gathered at the Safadi Cultural Center on December 4 and 11.
Sarah Bou Ajram, coordinator of leadership and civic engagement at LAU’s OCE unit, and Rindala Mikhael, secretary-general of the LAU High School Model United Nations program and assistant to the OCE executive director, trained the LAU student leaders on November 27.
There will be a closing ceremony on January 22 at the Safadi Cultural Center, where four winners (two from Tripoli and two from Sidon) will be recognized for their participation in a leadership essay competition designed to measure the training program’s impact on the students.
Due to the success of the joint program with Al Safadi Foundation, the OCE unit is planning to hold similar trainings in two more regions — Bsharri and Shouf — in the spring of this year.