On February 16, 2021, Nasralla joined a Global Nomads Group (GNG) Student to World: Human Rights Live Event with over 80 youth participants from four locations: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories. Nasralla attends Collège Saint-Joseph Khoronfish in Cairo and is at the first secondary school stage (three years, generally for ages 14 to 17). “I had little conversation with others and my relationships were few… I used to spend most of my time playing video games and on social media for hours of interest. I always listened to news about wars and refugees in the world around me but I didn’t care about it much,” Nasralla said, describing himself prior to participating in the program.
The experience included two parts: a 90-minute live event on Zoom, followed by classroom-based activities to explore, create, and submit action plans to the GNG platform in the weeks after the event. The Live Event itself was hosted by GNG’s on-screen presenters, Rand AlHusban, a GNG Program Assistant from Amman, Jordan and Amanda Reiling, a GNG team leader and college intern from Georgia, United States. GNG was pleased to welcome Egypt, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories as three new MENA locations participating in the Campfire program this spring.
The Student to World: Human Rights curriculum was created for youth in GNG’s Content Creation Lab pilot. Last fall, 24 high school students and four college-aged team leaders from Ecuador, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States worked on collaborative cross-national teams to create engaging content for their peers for the Student to World program, creating themes on the topics of human rights, mental health, sports, and women’s rights.
The Human Rights curriculum teaches about the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, how this declaration of rights and the development goals relate to one another, the specific efforts in global disability rights, and how people come together to fight human rights violations throughout the world. The curriculum features student vlogs and stories about human rights in their respective countries and tips for taking concrete action. The live presentation featured several stories written by youth from the United States.
In addition to learning about human rights, participants also learn about themselves. “[The program taught me] to talk freely even if my speech was intermittent or incomprehensible; to be confident and to tie in my strengths; to make new connections with other people because I was isolated and lonely; to respect others’ opinions even if I do not agree with it; and to think out of the box,” Nasralla said.
Amanda, who was the Human Rights college team leader, saw the curriculum development come to life through virtual exchange at the Live Event. “From the beginning, I’ve seen determined youth eager to spearhead the creation of this curriculum. Then, at the Live Event, I was able to witness the impact this knowledge and discussion had on other youth of all different backgrounds,” she said. “This process has opened my eyes to just how much youth all around the world really want to make a difference. Giving them all a platform to share their stories and take action regarding such important topics is truly vital to positive change.”
For Nasralla, the experience of hearing and sharing stories with global peers – both in breakout rooms during the event as well as sharing his own written story in the week following the session – has been a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow. “In my perspective, sharing stories with global peers is very important as I or other persons can benefit from my/their experience and avoid mistakes that I/they made in the past,” Nasralla said.
After attending the Live Event, and taking inspiration from the action plans of their global peers in the U.S., Nasralla and his MENA-based peers posted their own. Nasralla’s action plan outlines the following goals: “Challenge myself to read more about human rights or the people who advocated for them in the past. I must use the power of social media to advocate for human rights. I’ll try to travel to other countries to increase my knowledge about their laws and what they suffer there.”
Like all GNG Student to World themes, the curriculum can be implemented either through online courses hosted on Canvas LMS or through a Live Event. Since the fall, over 400 young people from the U.S. and MENA have participated in a Student to World Live Event and posted their action plans to the GNG online platform for further story exchange. The goal for all participants is for them to be inspired by their global peers and take action in the world. That was the case for Nasralla. “My goals changed completely [after] I entered this program… [it] made me have a totally different mindset from before. From now on I will be the ambitious person who has a vision and goals to be achieved,” Nasralla said.