NNAAC Fellow Mohammad: I'm getting to know the community more intimately
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 Mohammad Shair, one of the dynamic 2014-15 fellows, in our interview with him below.
"The most important thing I have learned working with the Arab American community is that it is so diverse, and this diversity is an integral part of the community."
22 years old
Florida A&M College of Law
Q: Why did you join NNAAC’s Transformative Fellowship Program?
A: My main motivation for applying and joining NNAAC’s Transformative Fellowship Program is to gain experience in the non-profit world, but while gaining this experience I wanted to make a difference and I knew that if I worked for NNAAC I would be making a difference. Also I recently moved to Orlando where AACC is based, and I thought it would be a great networking and experience gaining opportunity.
Q: With which organization are you placed and what are you learning about the organization?
A: I am currently at the Arab American Community Center of Florida based in Orlando. The biggest thing I have learned working on a regular basis at a non-profit is noticing and being happy about the little accomplishments. Something you might have considered insignificant before now takes on the form of something so central; appreciating the small things.
Q: What kinds of projects are you working on?
A: I am currently working on TGI, Teen Grantmaking Initiative through CAAP, Center for Arab American Philanthropy. This program provides teens with the chance to work first hand with the grant making process. What we do throughout the program is raise funds for a grant, which we provide to a non-profit that we think would benefit most. This decision is made after doing a need assessment and finding out what is needed most in our area.
Q: What are you learning about the Arab American community?
A: The most important thing I have learned working with the Arab American community is that it is so diverse, and this diversity is an integral part of the community.
Q: How is the program making you a leader?
A: By working and learning about the day-to-day operations of an organization I know what is needed and expected of a leader to try and mobilize a community. Also since I am a youth director, working with potential leaders, and teens that are leaders already, I have a great opportunity to gain a hands on experience.
Q: What are at least three skills you are gaining from the program so far?
A: I am gaining a lot more than three skills, but the three most important would be understanding day-to-day office work, how to reach out to the community, and finally getting the community to participate.
Q: How is the program affecting your future plans (i.e. school or career path)?
A: Other than not having much free time since I go to school full time, this program has opened doors for me and has allowed me to get to know the community a lot more intimately.
Q: What is your favorite part of the program so far?
A: I love working with kids, and organizing fun informative events, those are definitely my favorite parts of the program.
Q: Would you recommend the program to others?
A: I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to be exposed to the non-profit world for the first time and waits to gain valuable experience. Also I don’t think this is restricted for first timers with non-profit, there is enough work to go around for everyone with any degree of experience.