Humphrey Fellow alum Yaghi runs USPEaK in Lebanon

From Teaching to Leadership

Rawan Yaghi, Lebanon, 2014-2015 Humphrey International Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs  

The Humphrey year made a remarkable change in my professional life. I quit my teaching career to give my full time to non-profit organization, USPEaK, which I believe in. I finished its registration in the Ministry of Interior with the board in April 2015 in a fast visit to Lebanon during my fellowship. Two programs I am so proud of that we worked on are:

1 - Spelling Bee Lebanon which is funded by the US Embassy Beirut. In this program, USPEaK designs an annual thematic curriculum on citizenship, democracy, environment, leadership, rights of refugees besides others. The curriculum is implemented in 28 middle schools in Lebanon with regional competitions and a national competition where Public Diplomacy officers sit on the jury. A field day is also organized to reinforce the annual themes with the slogan "Bee A Good Citizen".

2 - Teaching Women English Program which is also funded by the US Embassy (one of the top 5 projects) is implemented in 36 clusters in Lebanon. Adult women get the chance to learn 150 free hours of English in a book that I co-authored with the University of Oregon designed according to needs analysis to women in the Arab World. Women also get a social training on topics like governance and transparency, Gender Based Violence, Sexual Reproductive Health and Early Marriage Countering Violent Extremism besides others. This program has a big alumni community that is involved in social life and which is a real indicator of women empowerment. Public speaking for women and participating in national campaigns for gender equality are among what we do.

In three years, USPEaK through its different programs that work on livelihood, conflict resolution and peace building, social integration, GBV, CVE and others was able through these two programs to become a national NGO instead of being a small local one thanks to all the courses, enhancement courses, exposure, affiliation and experience in the Humphrey fellowship.
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