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When the Mind is Intrigued and the Heart Opens

When the Mind is Intrigued and the Heart Opens

I graduated high school this year, but not before being teased with effective untraditional approaches to teaching, and so naturally, when I received an email asking if I could speak at Riyada, and share my experience of co-founding a social enterprise, I couldn’t say no!

To be clear, this was the first time someone had ever asked me to be a guest speaker, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I entered the Riyada workspace, packed with teens working hard behind their screens, not sure how to share my own story. What were these teens interested in? Did they really care about social causes? Were they really interested in social entrepreneurship? I really didn’t know, so I shared all that I thought was relevant to them (& me) as teens and how working for a social cause is very tough but very rewarding at the same time. Every time I came to conclude my talk, another point would come in mind that I had to just share.

As I eventually finished my talk, thanked them for their time to listen, and prepared to tidy my bag and leave, I was surprised with the mini-crowd that formed around me from students who were so passionate to learn more about my experience, and how that could help them with their personal journeys and goals. Instantly the conversation delved into social issues our society faces and how youth played a crucial role in solving them. For the next hour or so, I was just being bombarded by different perspectives people had on the social issues we face, and what it meant for the students to solve these problems and give back to their community. The concept of the selfless entrepreneur was strongly ingrained in them.

Over the next few days, I found my self dropping by the workspace for some reason whenever I had time to spare. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the different approaches the students used to tackle different social issues, and to some extent I felt obliged to help fellow members of society make a difference. Going over their solution proposals and sustainability plans were a constant reminder of the challenges our local environment exhibits, but more interesting were the approaches to overcome such challenges. For example, a student suggested to use/establish a student volunteer network as a means to get a workforce with enough coverage to help collect recyclables across Beirut. On one hand, volunteering students would become more conscious of the recycling process and its importance, in addition to achieving their volunteering hours required to graduate high school; On the other hand, recycling in Beirut would become seamless and easy to do!

Personally, Riyada was an eye-opener for me to the issues we face and how the youth creatively approached them. More importantly, it did the same to all the students that participated. It went against traditional scholastic approaches, yet effectively taught them what social entrepreneurship is all about and equipped them with necessary skills to become one. It provided students with tools to explore issues in-depth and to discuss them openly, whether through the diverse mentors or guest speakers, and then helped them build effective solutions to tackle these issues.

There’s just something just so gladdening from seeing this happen.

– Marwan Ghamlouch, Co-founder of Kwiksense SAL

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