February Alum of the Month – Malek Sebri – Student Leaders Program (2018)
Empowering youth in rural areas is no longer a dream.
Sharing Malek Sebri’s story not only inspires future MEPI Student Leaders Program applicants, but it is also a lesson in perseverance for all Tunisian youth. We invite you to dream while reading it.
In a recent interview with the MEPI Coordinator, Malek shared “from a young age, I had always been passionate about education. I always wondered how my life would have been different if I had not had the chance to receive the education I got; how would my future turn out I was educated in a different school, in a different region, in a different city.”
Malek was in her third year in dentistry school when she heard from a friend about the opportunity to apply for the MEPI Student Leaders program. She learned that she could apply with a project idea that drives social and civic change. She immediately knew that MEPI would be the ideal opportunity for her to create the change she hoped to see in Tunisia.
Malek is a true story of perseverance. The first time she applied to the MEPI Student Leaders Program, she did not make it past the interview phase. Malek did not give up. She reapplied the following year with an improved version of her project and a clearer vision to advance education equity in Tunisia. And she was accepted!
Malek created the Empowering Students in Rural Areas Reform (ESRAR) project, or “persistence” in Arabic, which focuses on providing students in marginalized areas with interactive workshops that develop soft skills. This innovative curriculum gives students access to an alternative, practical experience that is different from the theoretical learning that most schools provide. During her participation in the MEPI program, Malek sharpened her vision for this civic engagement project, and she improved her leadership and communication skills. Malek said that the MEPI Student Leaders program inspired her and gave her the tools to make ESRAR a reality.
During the first edition of ESRAR summer camps in 2019, she successfully empowered over 100 primary school students by delivering informal educational sessions with a focus on health, hygiene, and well-being. Beyond being their mentors, the ESRAR team became a large family. During the pandemic, they faced many challenges since their work was focused on interactive, in-person camps. However, this did not stop Malek from diversifying program activities and impacting a larger target audience. Her team was able to organize fundraising events, host discussion circles, and facilitate multiple training sessions in marketing, project management, public speaking, and videography.
Malek shared that her absolute favorite moment was when Mohsen, one of the students, asked if ESRAR could be integrated in the school curriculum all year. That is when she realized that ESRAR is creating a change that will have a lifelong impact.
ESRAR is a palpable example of Malek’s conviction to empower people to change and improve their lives. According to Malek, the MEPI program and faculty at Montana State University played a crucial in role in bringing her ideas to life.
Malek’s impact and hard work does not stop at ESRAR. The U.S. Embassy is proud to consider her an alum and will always support her efforts. In 2020, she received a Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health at Georgia State University.
We are eager to hear more about Malek’s ideas upon the completion of her Masters. Follow ESRAR accounts linked below to be updated before anyone else.
ESRAR CAMPS aftermovie: https://www.facebook.com/ESRARTN/videos/697023567479752
Interview with FAZA: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=361814148320978