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Mercy Corps and Reach Out to Asia to host youth leaders from Middle East, UK, US, Asia and Haiti

July 25, 2011

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(Doha, Qatar) – The global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, together with esteemed partner, Reach Out to Asia, is pleased to announce that it has kicked off its Global Citizen Corps International Youth Gathering in Doha, Qatar from July 23rd – July 28th, 2011. “Celebrating the International Year of Youth: Youth as Leaders, Change Makers, and Connected Global Citizens” is a week-long conference for young people from around the world hosted by Global Citizen Corps, a program Mercy Corps, implemented in partnership with Reach Out to Asia, a Qatari non-governmental organization that works under the auspices of the Qatar Foundation.

Twenty youth leaders, ages 16 to 25, from ten countries, including Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories (Gaza), Pakistan, Indonesia, the US, the UK, and Haiti, will take part in a full schedule of activities designed to stimulate learning and cross-cultural sharing. Participants will engage in dialogue on five key issues that are central to the Global Citizen Corps curriculum: environment and climate change, education, food security and hunger, health, and peace and conflict. The youth will talk about how these issues affect their communities and what they have been doing to tackle these challenges.

A highlight of the week will be a “Town Hall” event featuring Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, a renowned columnist and commentator from the United Arab Emirates who was recently ranked by Forbes Middle East as the top “Tweeter” in the region, with more than 70,000 followers on the popular social networking site Twitter. Sheikh Sultan will be joined on stage by Shadi Hamid, Director of Research at Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The discussion will be moderated by Andrea Koppel, a longtime journalist and media professional who recently joined Mercy Corps as Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy. Audiences in Washington, DC; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Portland, Oregon will join the conversation via videoconference.

In addition, participants will strengthen their skills in areas such as the use of film and photography to support self-expression and community work, and the use of advocacy and social media to promote positive community change. Participants will visit important cultural sites in Doha and take part in service activities that give back to the local communities.

Global Citizen Corps is a Mercy Corps program that aims to inspire, educate and equip a growing international network of young leaders to be responsible, active, and globally connected citizens. This week’s gathering brings together a select group of these youth who will then return to their home countries to develop multi-country initiatives reflective of the Global Citizen Corps mission. “We are very excited to be hosting these youth here in Doha, together with our friends and partners at ROTA,” said Sarah Warren, Director of the Global Citizen Corps. “This is a dynamic and historic time in the Middle East and North Africa, with Qatar playing a leading role in the events of the moment, as well as in the effort to tackle on-going humanitarian and development issues in the region and beyond. It is fitting to have these young leaders here, now, sharing ideas about how they can contribute to building a better future.”

“Reach Out to Asia is proud to be a part of this event and of the Global Citizen Corps initiative, which is helping thousands of youth develop critical leadership skills and engaging them as partners in addressing the real issues that face their communities—and the world,” said Essa Al Mannai, Director of ROTA. We look forward to sharing Qatari culture with these young people, at the same time that they bring their cultural heritage and experiences to share with us.”

Through structured dialogue and informal interactions, participants will be encouraged to build new relationships and challenge their stereotypes and misconceptions of others. They will also share their experiences with youth around the world through daily blog posts, tweets, and other forms of social media.

Retaj Al Rayyan Doha has generously offered free and reduced price accommodation for participants. Four Season Hotel Doha will sponsor the opening dinner celebration for the gathering, offering their five-star hospitality to participants and guests. The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar on Qatar Foundation’s Education City campus will be the host venue for the conference. Northwestern University will host two evening events and videoconferences during the gathering. Participants will arrive on Saturday, July 23rd and depart on Friday, July 29th, with program activities taking place from Sunday, July 24th through Thursday, July 28th.

For more information on Global Citizen Corps, please visit: www.globalcitizencorps.org.