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Two of Bahrain’s young leaders have been nominated for the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship, and could be the country’s first ‘Peace Fellows.’
Bahrainis Sarah Alsatrawi and Hassan Alrayes were picked by the Rotary clubs in Bahrain to represent the kingdom and could win one of 50 international scholarships to complete a Master’s degree at a Rotary Foundation Peace Centre.
Both Sarah and Hassan come from diverse professional backgrounds, with each having at least three years of experience in peace and development work. They have also shown a strong commitment to cross-cultural understanding and peace through personal, professional and community service.
If selected, the duo will enter a 15-to-24-month Master’s degree programme, which includes fieldwork and research into peace and development issues.
“This Peace and Conflict Resolution Fellowship is the perfect next step that will support the alignment of my work with my passion and purpose,” explained 30-year-old Sarah, who is based in Sanad and currently working in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sarah has previously worked with AIESEC, an international youth-run NGO, as part of their Middle East and Africa operations team and was the exchange programme manager for the Bahrain chapter of the organisation.
She currently works with the Special Olympics UAE team, creating inclusion initiatives for people of determination. Since graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Banking and Finance from Bahrain University in 2014, she has made innovation, inclusion and youth empowerment her purpose.
She hopes that her Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution at one of the Rotary International Peace Centres around the world, will help her take her work to the next level.
“Through this fellowship, I hope to be able to progress Bahrain towards better cultural proficiency, which recognises individual and cultural differences, seeks advice from diverse groups and implements changes based on cultural needs,” she added.
“My experience and work with youth and leadership have been eye-opening. It made me recognise my privilege and how many women around me face social resistance, when offered an empowering experience like the one I had by travelling alone and volunteering abroad.
“Ever since, I have evaluated and re-evaluated my former complacence and developed a sense of critical thinking, allowing space for questioning and challenging the status quo.”
On the other hand, Hassan comes from a project management and education background, having worked at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Berlitz and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He hopes that the knowledge, skills and experience gained through this fellowship help him develop big-picture solutions to regional challenges like resource scarcity, climate change and economic insecurity.
“Food and water security are particularly interesting because they are inextricably linked to all three issues and are frequently cited as major triggers for future tensions,” the 31-year-old Barbar resident, told GulfWeekly.
With a Bachelor’s degree in International Politics from the City University of London, Hassan also brings more than six years of government, education and international experience to the table.
Although he believes in the power of philanthropy, he thinks it should be combined with education and sound economic policy for long-term development. This ideology has driven his work with institutions fostering education and development.
“As a former English teacher, many of my students came from low-income families and I was moved by their desire for a better career and life for themselves and their families,” he explained.
“The projects that attract me are those that can significantly improve the lives of Bahrain’s struggling families by creating new opportunities, quality jobs and better living standards.
“There is still much work to be done, and much more I need to learn. The Rotary Peace Fellowship will allow me to enrich my thinking and become a more positive contributor to my people.”
Started in 2002, the Rotary Foundation awards up to 50 Master’s degrees fellowships, which cover tuition fees, room and board, transportation, as well as internship and field study expenses.
The Rotary Peace Centres, located in universities like Duke University (US), University of Bradford (UK) and University of Queensland (Australia), provide academic training, practical experience and global networking opportunities to help professionals become effective catalysts for peace.