So it’s been a while .. right? Right. Here is what’s been up. In late June I applied for a fellowship through the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. The topic this year was youth development and in my application, I wrote about my work using sports as a means to bring individuals together & what I plan to do in the future using sports/physical activity to create conversations and bridge differences. Below has more information about UNAoC, visit the site & check ’em out. They have a ton of programs.
The UNAOC aims to improve understanding and cooperation among nations and peoples across cultures and to reduce polarization at local and global levels. It helps develop more inclusive societies, in which diversity is experienced as an asset.
I found out I was a recipient in late August, and on October 15 I was on my way to Morocco. My cohort consisted of 12 “emerging leaders”- we joked around non-stop with that phrase, and we all came from various countries in Europe and North America (EUNA.) I visited Rabat, Cairo, Doha and Sarajevo. I could go on & on about those 2 weeks, but I will do my best to summarize in the next 2 paragraphs.
Our first morning together we had to name 1 or 2 things we wanted to get out the trip. For me, I wanted to 1- Learn. I felt like I knew nothing about the Middle East & North Africa except what I heard about on CNN and you can’t really take that as the real deal. So for me, it was imperative that I was able to speak to people and hear their stories, learn about the history, religion, culture, traditions, etc. That goal was accomplished, I learned so much and I have contacts from our meetings and from fellowship alums who met us throughout the trip. The second thing I wanted to accomplish during the trip was learn how sports was/is being incorporated as a means to bring together people within their own countries or/and internationally. I wanted to ask about the logistics of planning a program, what type of programs are held, what is the evaluation process, what’s done in the events, what are lessons learned etc. We met with the Ministry of Youth & Sports only in Morocco, and other than that, we didn’t discuss that aspect as much. Our meetings with the Ministry of Youth & Sports in Egypt & Qatar were canceled. BUMMER. However, the meeting in Morocco was pretty great, and I have contacts that I can use to learn more.
My favorite place was Morocco and I NEED to visit again. I could speak French and, guess what?
I’m not too shabby! The days were long- whether we were doing cultural visits, having meetings and meeting officials/ other young leaders or traveling, but we were a team doing it and my 11 cohort members were so great. In every country we visited a mosque. Interestingly, Morocco seemed to be the most “liberal” in terms of what the women had to wear to go in the mosque- just the hijab. In Egypt I had to wear a skirt & hijab, and in Qatar I had to wear an abaya. The food was so good, I now love lamb (vindaloo) and baba ganoush. I visited the pyramids, the Latin Bridge, many marketplaces/ souq/ bazaar, Mausoleum of Mohammed the 5th, Cairo University, Arab League, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Al-Azhar Islamic Center, a Human Rights NGO, Economic, Social and Environmental Council and many other ministries and NGOs
In Sarajevo we met our MENA counterparts-basically, 13 young leaders from the Middle East and North African region. They were starting their journey while we were ending ours. They were going to Berlin, Belgium, NYC and DC. Just from speaking to that cohort, our lives are drastically different and I wish I could have spoken more with them. Of course there were some negatives mixed in with the positives throughout the fellowship, but overall and for me, I enjoyed the experience and was super sad to head back to America (haha). I have made connections for life and by having a global perspective it helps in conversation, problem solving, and in other aspects that involve communication.
So What’s Next?
Philly is now a World Heritage City. I’m going to look into what exactly that means and how to get on board. Maybe Philly will have events that use fitness & sports to bring people together and promote diversity in tourism. We’ll see. I’ve been looking into that today. I received some welcome advice about whether I should go the for profit or non-profit route, it’s looking like The Tenth Muse will be a non-profit and will have 3 aspects of focus. I’ve been getting hit with a bunch of opportunities in terms of being a brand ambassador, but I want to ensure my focus, vision and principles never get lost. Right now I am an Eleven By Venus brand ambassador and I plan to do more with them. I’m trying to do something new for me and for the city. I’m a little anxious and scared. But I am so blessed and so ready to embark on new challenges and grow The Tenth Muse.
If you didn’t know I have an IG and Twitter… both can be found @TheTenth_Muse and my facebook page is @TheTenthMuseFitnessPlus. I NEEEEED to start using social media more so go ahead and put pressure on me.
I feel like the journey is just beginning & everything that has happened since I started The Tenth Muse in 2012, whether positive or negative, has gotten me to this point and helped mold me and the vision. I tell myself “Everyday do SOMETHING for the business.” Even if all I do is read 1 article or send out one email it’s something.
Thanks for sticking with me. Leave a comment, I love chatting about what I have done, will do, am doing, my fellowship or anything health/fitness related.
Hey Liam + Taras: I took some of your pictures…they are awesome!! Thanks 😉