It feels surreal; walking on the cobbled streets of picturesque Cambridge, with stately old buildings whose history seem to whisper from the walls, it feels unbelievable how far I’ve come. Not just in distance, but the experiences so far.
I remember that it was last December when I first read about the Mosaic programme. A good friend forwarded an email, excitedly telling us to apply. At that point of time I was on the journey of rediscovering myself, changing careers, trying various work opportunities in the hope that something would ‘fit’. The details of the programme seemed incredible, and a trip to possibly London or the UAE for nothing less than a leadership conference is like a dream come true. So I thought “Why not?”
I do not remember exactly what it was that I written in my application, except it was a whole lot about my work for women’s issues and other causes I have worked on with much pride.
And then in February, came the email. I was shortlisted for an interview!!
I was in the midst of organising an installation banquet, and going to the interview meant flying out to Kuala Lumpur AND staying over, but I knew that I couldn’t give up the chance. And coincidentally BFM, a local radio station, also in Kuala Lumpur, wrote in to ask me for an interview after reading my article on LoyarBurok about feminism.
What are the odds? I felt like I was suddenly thrust into a different dimension.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went to both interviews, had a wonderful installation dinner, and in April I received the news – Congratulations on being awarded a delegate place on the Mosaic International Leadership Programme!
I was astounded. I couldn’t believe it!
After months of eagerly waiting, I am finally here. Meeting with 80 delegates aged 25-35 from various Muslim majority countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, and UK, getting inspired to make positive changes in our respective communities.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Etihad Airways, I had a wonderful journey from Kuala Lumpur.
The Mosaic International Leadership Programme aims to develop leadership skills, inspire thinking about global issues, and equip young people to become involved in their local communities. The programme lasts for 12 months and begins with the Mosaic International Summit, a 2 week period of intense residential training.
Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007, Mosaic’s mentoring programmes create opportunities for young people growing up in our most deprived communities. Mosaic’s vision is for all young people to be supported to realise their potential.
Mosaic is an initiative of Business in the Community (BITC), part of the family of charities overseen by The Prince’s Charities, the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the United Kingdom.
This year’s summit would not have been possible if not for the generous support provided by the supporters of the International Leadership Programme, including Prudential Corporation Asia, Qatar Foundation, Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation, Etihad Airlines, Qatar Shell, Crescent Petroleum, Al Maktoum College of Higher Education, and Pearn Kandola.
During the first week, we were placed in University of Greenwich and staying at Cutty Sark Hall, a cosy residence for students at Greenwich. I absolutely loved the atmosphere there, with the significant Meridien line just close by and central London just a few trainstops away.
We had the honour of having several outstanding speakers with us during our time there. I was completely blown away with some of the leadership tips that our speakers shared with us. As you can see from the line-up of speakers – these are not your ordinary people.
First day Speakers
First up, we had Deema Bibi, CEO of INJAZ an NGO that first started as a project under Save the Children, funded by the USAID and re-launched in 2001 as an independent non-profit Jordanian organization under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah with the mission to “inspire and prepare young Jordanians to become productive members in their society and succeed in the global economy”
She talked about the expected roles of women that prevented many from going further in terms of leadership. She also shared how we should embrace painful experiences, tragedies or failures (she is a cancer survivor) as those are the times that allow us to reflect and see what is truly important in life. Her tragedy had resulted her in shifting careers, and that is something I could relate to personally, being someone who had just given up 8 years in an accounting career to follow my passion for human rights. I am very interested in what INJAZ is doing, if it is something I can model on for my own youth movement Borneo Youth Revolution in Sabah.
The second speaker we had was the “iron lady” Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of the State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities appointed on 4 September 2012. Of Pakistani origin, she was the third Muslim minister and the first female Muslim to serve as a minister in the United Kingdom, although she never won an election. The moment you walked in, you could feel the air of confidence that she exudes.
It was definitely a day for feminism, as she too emphasised on how women leaders are affected by social gaps which are imposed by husbands, brothers and fathers. It is all too important to have men who are willing to be equal partners. Ones that understand and are able to step back to allow their women to be who they are supposed to be.
I can only wish for such a partner in my life.
In a nutshell the first day was a lot about women empowerment and how women can be changemakers. It is all about being passionate and having strong beliefs in what you can do. And I know I do.
As for now, I am off to explore Cambridge, so see you later! Look out for Part 2 😉
– This post was first published by Sabrina Aripen on www.sabrinaaripen.blogspot.co.uk.