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Teaching responsible citizenship

The workshop in action.
The workshop in action.

Allah said in the Holy Quran: “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

Kuwait is undergoing a metamorphosis, a process of change that is necessary but far from complete. Among the many important facets of this change is the growing consciousness of the importance of community engagement, development and action. Among the youth, especially, more and more programs are geared toward developing a sense of civic engagement and partnership. One of these, n.mu, aims to facilitate youth-led community projects through capacity building and workshops.
n.mu is the daughter en.v. Founded in 2008, en.v aims to promote social responsibility and environmental sustainability not only in Kuwait but also in the Arab world . The n.mu program is directed toward citizens ages 18 to 25.
“It’s developed in partnership with the Eurasia Foundation, the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to promote constructive youth engagement in Kuwait. The program aims to promote active citizenship through critical reflection, dialogue and action, equipping youth with the skills and resources needed to make a positive impact in their communities through a combination of training and funding.”

Youth workshops
Kuwait Times attended an n.mu workshop to learn more about its methods of training participants. The first thing that draws the attention is the close collaboration between those taking part.
“The plan generally depends on developing some concepts and life skills to change the culture of citizenship and to elevate critical thinking. So, they take each subject individually for a week. Within four weeks, members begin to develop an action plan for a community project contributes to the development of society. We do a follow up at the end of session, a budget to cover the project to be done and to be implemented within another five weeks. We are keen to make our workshops in a fun, smiling atmosphere. At the same time, provide rich material with intellectual weight and dimensions beyond what meets the eye at first glance,” explained Dr. Sara Al-Ateeqie, an n-mu coach.
“Actually, we do not really train, we mainly facilitate for the participants the ideal environment to learn and explore topics like “What is a community?” to enable them to be active members of their communities using skills like critical thinking. And the kind of environment we aim to create in our sessions encourage teamwork, but in reality the gains from such type of training are highly subjective to the participant,” added Eng. Abdulmuhsin Al-Hashim.
Explaining in more detail about the n-mu method of training, Coach Abdullah Al-Khonaini said “Breaking down the barriers between participants is the most important characteristic of the program….This perception that occurs through the program will be a new motivation to work in a collective, innovative way under our supervision to push the participants to succeed with their projects.”

Anyone can be a responsible citizen
Registration to n-mu programs is free and is not limited to Kuwaitis. The process is done easily via their website www.envearth.com where you can find announcements of the new programs and updates about the activities of the en.v organization.
“I’m 22 years old and jobless right now, a friend of mine forwarded an email to me regarding the n.mu program and I simply filled an online application to register and here I am!” said Mariam Faraj, n.mu participant.
Mariam emphasizes that the first thing that makes her comfortable with her decision to join is the age convergence between them and the coaches plus the informal atmosphere.
“The program boosts my power of persuasion, and critical thinking. Additionally, I know now how to conduct a social campaign, how to make it work within a framework of a team,” she said. “I’m a part of campaign that encourages the reduction of plastic bags usage in supermarkets and megastores. Our tactic is to work on both consumers and decision makers. We will also distribute reusable bags to different venues free of charge. I’m becoming a citizen who adds something positive to her society and makes it better and happier.”

by Athoob A. Al-Shuaibi

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