NNAAC Fellow Isra: I want to reconnect with my Arab roots

NNAAC’s Transformative Leaders 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 Isra Daraiseh, one of our 2015-16 fellows, in our interview with her below.

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"I joined NNAAC's Transformative Fellowship Program because I have always wanted to reconnect with my Arab roots and do something meaningful around community building and non-profit work."

Isra Daraiseh

24 years old
Flint, Mich.
Eastern Michigan University, Class of 2012, Business Management and Psychology

Q: Why did you join NNAAC’s Transformative Fellowship Program?

A: I joined NNAAC's Transformative Fellowship Program because I have always wanted to reconnect with my Arab roots and do something meaningful around community building and non-profit work. I grew up in a city where there were very few people that looked like me or had similar experiences as I did. Due to the makeup of the area in which I grew up, I faced a lot of misunderstanding from my peers and misconceptions about who I am and where I fit in. So after graduating from EMU, and working at a bank where I felt very little satisfaction, I was looking for ways to give back to my community. I was seeking out opportunities such as this fellowship program in order to satisfy my need for purpose and learn about how non-profits function. I wanted to learn how I can build and organize programs that build community understanding/engagement among diverse populations and fulfill community needs.

Q: With which organization are you placed?

A: I am placed at the Arab American Heritage Council in Flint, Mich.

Q: What do you hope to learn?

A: Even though the fellowship is for less than a year, I want to of course learn as much as I can about non-profits, collaborating with other non-profits, and how the Arab American Heritage Council fits in with all of the other local organizations committed to helping the Flint community. I also want to learn specific skills such as grant writing/grant reports, and facilitating programs and events that benefit the Arab American community at large. 

Q: What personal or professional goals do you want to achieve during this program?

A: Personal goals that I want to achieve during this program involve being a better self-starter, more organized with my thoughts and my planning, and improving my Arabic speaking/writing skills. Also, given that I work in a small office, human and financial resources are limited, so being creative and taking initiative play a huge role. A professional goal of mine regarding the AAHC is to understand and learn more about the limitations they face and ways to improve them. For example capacity building seems to be an area that needs work, and I am excited to work on that issue. Another professional goal of mine is to gain expertise in one or more areas during my work as a fellow. 

Q: How does this program fit into your future plans (i.e. school or career path)?

A: This program fits into my future plans because I want to work for an NGO like the Arab Association for the Prevention of Drugs and Addiction, some day. I think that regardless of what my future holds, this experience will prove to be invaluable! 

Q: Describe yourself in three words (i.e. activist, leader, student, humanitarian, etc.)

A: Humanitarian, Advocate, Ambitious 

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Transformative Leaders Fellowship Program (formerly the Youth Fellowship Program) increases the capacity of our human service member organizations to provide additional support to their communities, while at the same time develop crucial leadership skills in the fellows themselves. The program engages college students and/or recent graduates over a nine-month placement with a NNAAC member organization. Fellows are recruited by NNAAC members locally, and in partnership with universities. Learn more.

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