I’m proud to say I had a wonderful time helping to deliver the first Taqaddam workshop in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, an experience which was of course immensely terrifying and enormously exciting all at the same time! The Taqaddam workshops are being delivered across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where youth unemployment is at a global high. The average period of unemployment for a young person in the MENA region can be as long as 36 months after leaving school. That’s three whole years of struggling to find that crucial first job. Taqaddam’s aim is to help young people to bridge the gap between education and work or further study, by better preparing them for that transition from childhood to adulthood.
In UAE, Dubai more specifically, the enthusiasm that radiated from the 140 young people in attendance at the workshop was totally infectious. Hosted in association with the British Council and HSBC, we had a huge group of attendees on the first day of the workshop. The workshop focused on the importance of building character strengths and soft skills in young people. This not only benefits their careers, but their ability to deal with life in general.
Many of the young people there were extremely excited to be involved in such an innovative and helpful initiative, which has been designed to help them to develop their aspirations and their confidence. The workshop experience as a whole was viewed positively, from the quality of the lunch to being able to meet new people, and many will be continuing on with their Taqaddam journey.
I also gained a lot from the experience, learning loads from my co-facilitator Dan in our quest to deliver an authentic workshop that would be as fun and engaging as possible.
The second round of workshops that I delivered took place in Beirut in Lebanon, and again this was an amazing experience to work with a different co-facilitator. This time, we faced particular challenges which meant I learned and grew a huge amount as a result. We had to literally embody some of the strengths that we were in turn teaching the young people–mettle, positive emotions and confidence. For that reason, amongst others, I really enjoyed this workshop.
The HSBC volunteers were invaluable in Beirut. They supported us brilliantly, working so hard to make the workshop as successful as it could be. Most of the young people involved expressed their excitement about the next part of their Taqaddam journey. I wish all of the students that I met the best of luck for their futures!
Reflections from Hasmita Chavda, written by Catherine Heath