Best practices for Arab American youth mentoring programs [#ArabAmericanSummit]

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Photo courtesy of Arab American Mentoring Program of Big Brother Big Sisters Chicago

The theme for this year's Arab American Summit is not just for adults! When thinking about community empowerment, youth must be included. The Arab American Summit will feature a session on youth mentoring and how to move Arab American youth from marginalized to organized and engaged.

The session "Just" Mentoring will provide participants with an understanding of social justice mentoring practices that support marginalized youth and can inspire them to become active members of their communities. Opportunities to connect with caring adults can help Muslim and Arab American youth challenge the disengagement and marginalization they may feel. The mentor/mentee relationship can be a powerful opportunity for social action and social change. Adult mentors can help create spaces to counter the discrimination and hatred felt by many youth. In order to be effective, mentors must understand the inequity and oppression that young people face and mitigate the negative effects of Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination.

The session will incorporate research on youth development helping participants understand how to apply empirical findings to develop “just” mentoring practices. The session will include a presentation of the problems that many Muslim and Arab American youth face, discussion of academic research and practitioner literature regarding mentoring, and the creation of action plans for participants to form mentoring programs.

This session will be led by Mayida Zaal, an Associate Professor in the Department of Secondary and Special Education at Montclair State University. She earned her B.A. from Rutgers University in Biological Sciences and Spanish, her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education, and her Ph.D. in Urban Education from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Dr. Zaal is committed to issues of social justice and equity. Her research focuses on participatory action research (PAR) as a transformative pedagogy and on understanding the lived experiences of immigrant-origin youth. She is particularly interested in the preparation of teachers working in diverse settings.  

The session will also feature representatives from an important Chicago area mentoring program sponsored by Arab American Family Services and the Chicago-Palestine Film Festival.

Click here for more information on the Summit.

This blog post is part of a series that will focus on The Arab American Summit. Check here regularly to stay updated on news, hear about featured speakers, and get a sneak peak at some of the exciting Summit topics!

Blog author: Fiona Bare, NNAAC Capacity Building Intern

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