By Bader S. Alzaharna
My INSPIRE22 journey would not have been such a success had I not received a scholarship from Al Fakhoora Scholarship and Empowerment Programme. Since 2016, I have attended this three-level civic engagement program that has greatly contributed to reshaping my personal and professional skills. When I was awarded the scholarship, I thought that it would only fund my undergraduate studies. However, it has turned out to be a life-changing reality that has helped me engage in a process of self-exploration and grow my skills to be well-trained and educated in order to give back to my community.
The first level of the program taught me the meaning of civic engagement as it combined knowledge, skills, values, and inspiration aimed to strengthen my capabilities to make a positive change in my community. Receiving this level as a freshman encouraged me to deepen an authentic understanding of the impact of civic engagement on global communities. The second level walked me through the art of dialogue and facilitation. I have, at this point, learned that research and reading are two significant steps in leading a successful panel discussion and building a flourishing conversation with experts. This level enabled me to untangle a package of essential skills such as facilitation, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving. The discussions I had with my colleagues also allowed me to accept constructive criticism, work on my weaknesses, and be prepared to take risks sometimes. The program’s third level amazed me with its vibrancy and led me to adopt the attitude of giving back through employing my acquired skills in leading community-service activities and small initiatives at local schools.
After completing the three levels, I feel more responsible for my community and have recognized that my heart and mind have been inspired and that this inspiration can be translated into action. The most significant action has been leading the INSPIRE22 Conference that aims to unleash human potential. This is exactly how the civic engagement program has paid off: it has transformed me into an enthusiastic and civic-minded individual.
Since March 2021, I have been in charge of what is now an example of a rewarding youth-led INSPIRE22 Conference that took place for the third consecutive year on March 22, 2022. Indeed, leading the conference has been a real experience in applying the skills, values, and attitudes I embraced during the civic engagement program. During the preparation and implementation stages of the conference, I utilized these skills as a professional civic leader, thinking critically, analytically, and creatively. When challenges emerged, I engaged my newly acquired strategies of problem-solving, dialogue, and decision-making.
INSPIRE22 has been a spacious expanse that allows me to share the knowledge and values of the civic engagement program with other active community members. During INSPIRE22, I moderated regional webinars, led youth focus groups, trained a youth team on the art of dialogue and facilitation, and managed time. The conference day was a great success, and I am lucky to have benefitted from this program that has transformed my life. Now, I have the confidence to say that I will work on nothing less than INSPIRE22, and I have the passion to lead other tremendous upcoming conferences. I am where I am today because I have developed the attitude of giving back in the civic engagement program.