NNAAC Fellow Bassem Kawar: I'm surrounded by respected, hard working community leaders
NNAAC’s Transformative Fellowship Program (formerly the Youth Fellowship Program) develops crucial leadership skills in select university students across the country through an ongoing partnership with our various member organizations. These aspiring young adults learn more about the issues facing Arab American communities, see how nonprofits are managed and work toward creating a personal professional growth plan.
Get to know Bassem Kawar, one of the impactful 2014-15 fellows, in our interview with him below.
"The program and the Arab American Action Network is where its at, this has been one of the best experiences and I encourage all to get involved with NNAAC and their member organizations."
26 years old
DePaul University - graduate, bachelor's degree in Sociology
Q: Why did you join NNAAC’s Transformative Fellowship Program?
A: I decided to join the program to get a better grasp of the non-profit world and to get closer to my Arab American community in Chicago.
Q: With which organization are you placed and what are you learning about the organization?
A: I’m placed with the Arab American Action Network. I’ve learned about the great history of the organization and the many services they offer and have offered in the past.
Q: What kinds of projects are you working on?
A: Currently I’m working with the Youth Organizing Project, which focuses on cultural and political organizing along with youth development. The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE is a part of our youth organizing where we are focused on law enforcement accountability and ending racial profiling in our community. We also focus on bridging the gaps between our community and other communities of well.
Q: What are you learning about the Arab American community?
A: The Arab American community is faced with many challenges that I might have not been able to identify without my involvement with the Arab American Action Network. Political, social and economical repressions were some issues that I believed impacted our community but my involvement broadened my understanding and the magnitude of these issues.
Q: How is the program making you a leader?
A: Managing youth and building relationships are improving my social skills that are essential to leadership. Surrounded with some of the most prominent, respected and hard working leaders in the community, is growing my understanding and capabilities to further self develop.
Q: What are at least three skills you are gaining from the program so far?
A: Leadership development, youth organizing and grant writing and communication
Q: How is the program affecting your future plans (i.e. school or career path)?
A: The program grew urgency in my mind to sustain, develop and expand the work we are doing at the Arab American Action Network and implement our vision as an organization. The vision of our organization for a strong community whose members have the power to make decisions about actions and policies that affect our lives and access to social, political, cultural and economic opportunities
Q: What is your favorite part of the program so far?
A: My favorite part of the program is our role in the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE. Our role is focused on ending law enforcement repression of the Arab and Muslim community.
Q: Would you recommend the program to others?
A: The program and the Arab American Action Network is where its at, this has been one of the best experiences and I encourage all to get involved with NNAAC and their member organizations.