We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Margaret Lamb will act as a citizen diplomat in Zanzibar, Tanzania, where she will we working with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE).
The original post was written by Margaret.
My decision to go to Zanzibar and work for the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) this summer happened frighteningly quickly. I received the application for America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, interviewed, and was accepted all while finishing my finals weeks of a semester abroad in Europe. I came home jetlagged and already booking my next transatlantic flight. I made the decision to go before most of my friends and family knew I was even applying. Amid the jokes about my inability to stay in one place, there was a lot of confusion. Why on Earth, some people wondered, was I doing this? My closest friends, however, I think were more surprised that this wasn’t something I had done sooner.
Over the past few years, I have come to be extremely passionate about women’s education. The concept of the “girl effect,” that educating girls can strengthen an entire community, is one that I find incredibly interesting and powerful. Within the past year, I realized that I needed to act on this and began considering to pursue a career in this field. Even before I had begun pursuing this specific interest, I had been fascinated by the Muslim culture; I am obtaining a minor in Arab and Islamic Studies. These interests, combined with a commitment to community service, made the opportunity to go to Zanzibar an obvious decision.
This is not to say that I do not have any trepidation; indeed, I have quite a bit. This is undoubtedly the furthest I have ever pushed my comfort zone and I do not know exactly what to expect. Stronger than my anxiety, however, is my excitement and my eagerness. I finally have the chance to pursue an opportunity that I find both fascinating and necessary. My internship with AUA and FAWE is exactly what I need to assess my future path and choices. I cannot wait for what I will learn.
The crisis with the schoolgirls in Nigeria has demonstrated with even greater significance the importance of educating girls. Where girls can be educated, terrorists and extremists have less power. Nigeria also demonstrates the many difficulties towards this mission. Educating girls, while it may seem to be a simple development initiative, is one that involves complex understandings of the cultures and societies that are affected. There are a myriad of potential roadblocks, both practical and ideological, that must be counteracted. I cannot wait to start my work with FAWE and begin learning how to counteract these challenges.
I do not know what the next six weeks have in store for me. I do know, however, that they will be important. Hopefully, they will be nothing short of life changing. All in all, I hope that I will be able to learn from every person I meet and experiences that I have. More importantly, I hope I can take what I learn and turn it into something amazing.