Arez Hussen is a master’s student at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. He focuses on the Kurdish Question in Turkey, Turkish foreign policy, and conflict resolution. He previously graduated from the department of International Studies at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani. Arez was a 2013 AMENDS delegate, and his initiative was to train and guide journalists and photojournalist from all over Iraq with the focus on braking the stereotypes and prejudices among Iraqis and to bridge the cultural gaps between them. Arez taught English for three years at the Margaret Institute in Sulaimani and was later the manager of the Institute before his departure to Sweden. He also worked as an English-Kurdish-Arabic translator and assistant editor with UNESCO in Sulaimani to train and guide journalist and photojournalist. Before his work at the Margaret and UNESCO, Arez worked as English-Kurdish translator for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Arez was one of the founders of the first independent student newspaper in Iraq, AUIS Voice, and was the Editor in Chief of the Voice for two years. He was chosen for the College Media Hall of Fame in 2011 by the Associated Collegiate Press, and he participated in the Iraqi Young Leadership Exchange Program in 2009 and studied leadership and social change at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He was an active member of the Kurdistan Journalism Syndicate from 2010 to 2013. He participated in and helped arrange many workshops for training journalists and conflict resolution in Sulaimani, Iraq, Minneapolis, MN, and Lund, Sweden. He was honored by the first lady of Iraq, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, for his hard work on training journalists. His mother tongue is Kurdish, but he is also fluent in English and Arabic and is working on his Turkish.
An aspiring 24-year-old senior architecture student at the University of Bahrain, Ghadeer Alkhenaizi’s wide breadth of interests includes writing, visual arts, heritage preservation, and the environment. Discontent to relegate the entirety of her time to her studies, Ghadeer runs an activist youth initiative “Tri Bahrain” to promote the three environmental principles: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (the “3Rs”). The initiative’s vision is to cultivate and instill the 3R principles into the lifestyle and culture of Bahraini citizens and society. Recently, she co-directed an independant non-profit initiative “Mawane” which mounts thought-provoking exhibitions, talks and workshops in various locations along the Bahraini coastline, in a critical attempt to cultivate a wider audience for contemporary art. Promoting collaboration and discussion, it was proactively founded as a small-scale platform for experimental urban research.
Ghadeer is also the 2013 Class Representative of the American Middle East Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS), connecting youth change agents from across the Middle East, North Africa, and United States to share their ideas and experiences with the world.
Imani Franklin served as part of the founding team of AMENDS in 2012-2013 and graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in International Relations and Arabic. Imani currently works as the Program Coordinator of Think Unlimited in Amman, activating Jordanian college students to become social innovators and change-makers in their communities. Previously, Imani worked as a Research Fellow with the Ford Foundation's Gender Sexuality and Reproductive Justice unit. During her undergraduate study, Imani studied Arabic in Jordan through the Critical Language Scholarship, served as the Co-president of Stanford's Black Student Union, and worked as a summer counsellor with Seeds of Peace. Imani is passionate about the relationship between grassroots organizing and foreign policy in impacting human rights in the Middle East/North Africa.
Jessica Anderson has been living in Beirut, Lebanon for the last two years managing fundraising and strategy for Visualizing Impact (VI), a non-profit citizen data journalism laboratory that applies design and technology to data on critical social issues. Prior to joining VI, Jessica was involved in refugee rights advocacy in Jordan, the US, and the UK. She holds an M.Sc. in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Kentucky. Jessica was a member of the inaugural AMENDS class and currently sits on the AMEND board as the 2012 Class Representative.
Maya Terro is a social and civil activist with a particular interest in corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and development. Having always been perplexed by the paradox of so many people going hungry when there’s so much wasted food, she became a food activist and co-founded in 2012 ‘foodblessed’, a local hunger-relief initiative which works with businesses and the civil society to reduce the number of people going hungry in Lebanon by asking them to be more mindful of the food they let go to waste and offering them with practical solutions to cut down on their food waste generation and the opportunity to serve food to those in need through volunteering.
In 2013, Maya’s initiative, FoodBlessed was awarded the ‘CSR in Action’ Award for the category ‘Best Social Project on CSR’ by Al Ahli Group and Ecole Superior des Affairs. In over two years, FoodBlessed was able to serve over 188 000 meals that were either prepared through community cookouts, surplus food rescued from events and/or surplus vegetables and fruits salvaged from dumpsters and local markets.
Currently, Maya is working on drafting a Food Donation Law that will free food donors from liability in an attempt to encourage the donations of surplus food to people in need that would otherwise go to waste and as a result will reduce the amount of food waste generated annually.
Maya is an AUB alumni, a MESCI graduate, a John Smith Fellow, an AMENDS fellow, and an AIESECer. She served as a Rome MUN delegate, a WAAAUB council member, an AUB Youth Red Cross member, and a graduate student representative for the University Student Faculty Committee USFC at AUB. She graduated with a BS in Biology (premed) and a Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) from the American University of Beirut. She also holds an M.A. (Hons) in Development Economics and International Co-operation from the University of Rome II at Tor Vergata. Maya is also is the winner of “Al-Zaim”, a revolutionary political reality-television show, leading her to run for the Lebanese Parliamentary elections in 2013 and 2014.
Radidja Nemar, a French-Algerian, is an International Lawyer specialized in Human Rights and Humanitarian law. She is currently the Regional Legal Officer for the Gulf Region at the Alkarama Foundation in Geneva. She assists individuals in the region subjected to or at risk of extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention at the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms (Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies), Geneva. She also addresses broader human rights violations and reviews state policies, laws as well as practices within the UN Human Rights framework.
Besides this, she is a final year PhD student in International Law at the University of Aix-en-Provence in France. Her research focuses on legal issues surrounding transitions from war to peace. In the past few years, as a PhD scholar, she has undertaken two visiting research stints at the University of Oxford and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a year at Yale Law School. She holds undergraduate degrees in Law, Philosophy and Arabic and Master degrees in International Law and Military Studies. Radidja speaks French, Arabic, English, Spanish and a basic level of Persian, Hebrew and Urdu.
As a 2014 AMEND Fellow, Radidja works to set up centers offering a holistic approach to helping female and children victim of violence. It is a part of a larger project to propose a civilian and civil society centered approach to post-conflict reconstruction.
Ashley Lohmann is a media entrepreneur passionate about cross-cultural understanding and the power of storytelling. She is the founder of Amplify Impact, an early-stage startup making viral videos for nonprofits and social ventures in the Middle East to attract supporters and build awareness. The company aims to showcase to a global audience the inspiring work happening in a region often defined by conflict. The Amplify Impact team has been selected to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University and the final round of the Big Ideas@Berkeley startup competition.
Ashley previously ran Beyond the Bombs, a multimedia web initiative publishing untold stories about Middle Eastern arts, culture, and entrepreneurship. She also worked as a Middle East desk editor for an online journal and a political analyst in Washington, DC. Ashley received her BA in International Relations from Stanford University and is now pursuing her MBA at the University of California, Berkeley.
Banu Ibrahim Ali is an IT (Information Technology) graduate from the American University of Iraq – Slemani. She is currently working at (Hiwa Foundation) a Non-Profit Organization in the city of Slemani. Banu is also one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Slemani (SWS), which is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful venture. Banu is an alumni of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) in the United States in summer 2009, International Youth Forum Seliger 2010 in Russia, and National Model United Nations (NMUN) in New York in March 2013, as well as a leading member of the Awat Newspaper, the only English Independent Newspaper in Iraq. Banu is also a Community Leader of the Lean In Foundation founded by Sheryl Sandberg and the founder of two Lean In Circles at two universities in Slemani.
Believing that science has the power to solve many of society’s toughest challenges—from water shortages to clean energy needs—Hamza launched the Scientific Culture Society (SCS). Its goals: to promote science education in Jordan, foster critical thinking among students, and improve public understanding of science. SCS engages students in learning through experimentation. SCS's work is not so much about teaching people scientific theories, as it is about giving them the method and the mindset to explore the world and be more engaged in discovering it. SCS programs target public school students, ages 5 to 18, Syrian refugee children, and teachers. Recognizing that schools in disadvantaged communities often lack adequate science facilities, in 2013, SCS launched a Portable Lab project that provides science kits to schools containing basic equipment. The kits are accompanied by a month-long workshop that trains teachers to lead interactive classroom sessions. In 2014 alone, more than 500 students participated in SCS activities and has now reached over 8 cities across Jordan.
Micah Hendler (United States, 2012 Fellow)¬ is the founder and director of the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli high school students. Through the co-creation of music and the sharing of stories, the Chorus seeks to empower young singers from East and West Jerusalem to become leaders in their communities and inspire singers and listeners around the world to work for equality, mutual understanding, justice, and peace. Already in its third year, the Chorus tours internationally, records with professional artists in Jerusalem and abroad, and has produced a music video, Home, that has reached over 250,000 people on YouTube.
Micah is a graduate of Yale University in music and international studies, having written his thesis on music and conflict transformation between Israeli and Palestinian teens in Jerusalem. A native of Bethesda, Maryland, he speaks both Arabic and Hebrew, and has studied within many different musical traditions. A common thread he has been drawn to within all of these has been how creating music together with others, specifically, through song, creates a tangible feeling of community and a sense of shared identity, even where none existed before. He further experienced this power in its combination with dialogue at Seeds of Peace, an organization he has been involved with for over ten years. Micah is looking forward to bringing some good singing and a resulting spirit of community to AMENDS-Koç 2015.
Rachel Sider lives in Erbil, Iraq and is currently a humanitarian policy advisor for Oxfam Great Britain. A recent graduate of Middlebury College, she spent her four undergraduate years researching the societal and political implications of the Syrian refugee crisis in host communities. She founded her own project, Empowering Voices, to address the demographic and assimilation challenges facing Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi artists in Amman, Jordan. Rachel has worked to foster a network of artistic activists that shift the perception and discourse regarding migration and identity in the Middle East through public art. Domestically, Rachel has advocated for increased humanitarian assistance and response to the Syrian and Iraq crises. Today, in partnership with national NGOs across Iraq, she promotes looking beyond humanitarian band-aids through early recovery and stabilization programs for all conflict-affected populations in the region.
Rebecca Farnum is a 2012 Marshall Scholar currently researching for a PhD in Geography at King's College London, where she explores discourses of environmental conflict and cooperation, particularly around food and water resources in the Middle East and North Africa. Becca is a 2013 AMEND Fellow for her work on environmental peacebuilding in the region. Since her Stanford Summit, she has teamed up with several other AMEND Initiatives – serving as a facilitator for Dorm Room Diplomacy, the UK Tour Manager for the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, and International Cultural Coordinator for the Kuwait Dive Team. She serves as the Founding Secretary for the AMEND Fellows Network.
Zack Levine is the President of Dorm Room Diplomacy, a virtual exchange organization that uses twenty-first century technology to broaden perspectives and connect young people around the world. With a focus on students in the West and Middle East, Dorm Room Diplomacy has engaged students from over 40 universities in 15 countries in its flagship videoconference dialogues. Zack has led DRD since 2012, and was named a 2014 AMENDS Fellow and a 2014 Ariane de Rothschild Fellow for his work with Dorm Room Diplomacy.
Zack graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a degree in Political Science and focus in Modern Middle East Studies. While at UPenn, Zack also sat on the Dean's Advisory Board and consulted for Wharton's Social Impact Consulting Group. Zack will begin reading for an MSc in Social Science of the Internet at Oxford University in 2015.