Cairo, Egypt, September 10, 2014: September 1-3, 2014 Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) in partnership with The Ma’an Alliance for Civic Engagement, the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at The American University in Cairo hosted a 2.5 training on service-learning and civic engagement for leaders in the MENA region. Thirty-four participants from eight countries (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Qatar ) were led by facilitators Dr. Amani el Shimi and Dr. Mona Amer in a training on the fundamentals of service-learning and implementing a service-learning program at their universities. University faculty were joined by CSO representatives from New Horizon (Egypt), the High Atlas Foundation (Morocco), INJAZ Jordan, AYB, and the Takatoff Foundation to discuss partnerships between civil society and universities.
The conference was opened with remarks by Dr. Barbara Ibrahim, Director of the Gerhart Center and Susan Stroud, Executive Director of ICPDr. Ibrahim welcomed the faculty and shared remarks on the importance of understanding civic engagement in the Arab World and expanding the role of universities in the work. During the conference, participants engaged in a Kiva session, faculty and student panels, and small group conversations to gauge their current understanding of service learning and what they hoped to gain from the training that will enhance current teaching and learning in Arab universities. In separate panel discussions with the group, faculty, student, and CSOs representatives discussed their experiences with service-learning, the challenges they encountered in the work, how this work benefits communities, and how it has enhance youth citizenship in their universities and communities. Participants also utilized the time to formulate service-learning strategy plans for their universities and CSO partners, which they shared with the group. The training was closed with remarks by Dr. Ted Purinton, Associate Provost for Strategic and International Initiatives at The American University in Cairo, who offered thoughts on how his experiences as a student in service-learning, led him to become an advocate for the work today.
The training also heralded the launch of an all new Ma’an Alliance website (www.aucegypt.edu/academics/maan ), Ma’an Alliance online discussion forum, and the new Linking Student Engagement Toolkit which is offered in Modern Standard Arabic and English. The toolkit is the first of its kind, offering comprehensive resources and guidance on university civic engagement and making it accessible to all MENA region universities by being offered in Arabic and English. These new resources will continue to move the network forward as more universities in the region integrate service-learning courses into curriculum and bridge stronger partnerships with the communities in which they exist and serve. The conference was funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy and was co-sponsored by Silatech. For more information on ICP and the Ma’an Alliance please visit the Ma’an Alliance website (www.aucegypt.edu/academics/maan) and www.icicp.org.