More than 80 young people from 17 countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and the UK took part in the Mosaic International Summit in July 2010. The programme supports people from Muslim communities around the world who are at an early stage in their careers, but have already demonstrated the ambition to launch action projects to benefit the societies in which they live. The Summit taught participants how to take those ideas further, both by developing their leadership skills and by providing them with a sense of the wider global context in which they can make a difference.
In the process, it seeks to create an international network of young Muslim leaders who are actively engaged in programmes that transcend the cultural, gender and social divisions which in many cases still restrict individual progress in those countries and communities.
“We are aiming to bring together young people who have already demonstrated a concern with community issues, but haven’t been given the chance to connect with other, like-minded individuals,” John O’Brien, Managing Director of Mosaic, said.
“This Summit will give them the skills and support they need, and at the same time the opportunity to mix with people who have similar ideas, but come from an extraordinarily wide range of backgrounds. They return from the event with new hopes, aspirations and most importantly the sense that they are not alone in having them.”
As well as equipping participants to become active leaders within their communities, the programme is designed to introduce them to a wider, global context. The workshops, activities and lectures that take place in the first week cover issues such as environmental sustainability, global poverty and inter-cultural relations. During the programme, the delegates met with a wide range of speakers from around the world including Farah Pandith, Special Advisor to Muslim Communities for the US State Department and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chair of BRAC and HRH Princess Badiya bint el Hassan, Chairman of Mosaic. Delegates were encouraged to think about how the small differences they make at home can contribute to addressing problems on a much wider scale. The second week was then spent on regional study tours to Manchester, Bradford, London and Birmingham during which the participants had the chance to visit projects in the UK which brought to life the issues that had been discussed.
This is the second year in which the Mosaic International Summit has taken place. The 2009 Mosaic International Summer School included teachers, artists, designers, professionals, students, engineers and business leaders. This year, a similarly wide range of people from 17 different countries came to the UK for the fortnight-long course.
Significantly, the Summit brings together people who come not just from different countries, but from cultural contexts which, in some of those countries, would rarely mix. In this sense, the programme functions as a social leveller for its participants, whether they come from a wealthy setting in the Gulf states, or a much humbler background in the Indian subcontinent.
Many of last year’s delegates have already gone on to set up new projects, or involve themselves in existing ones. These include environmental initiatives in Dhaka, programmes working with street children in Pakistan, the creation of a women’s network in Saudi Arabia, a consultancy service for youth leaders in Turkey, and a mobile library scheme in Bahrain.
The Mosaic International Summit is sponsored by Prudential Corporation Asia as global partner, in association with the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.