“Global Encounters was a journey,” says Inaara Gangji, a past participant from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “A journey of attainment, a journey of scholarship, a journey of accomplishment — and most importantly a journey of transformation for the better.”
That transformation, she discovered, can come from everywhere and everyone.
Inaara was one of 120 Ismaili youth from 25 different countries who met in Kenya in 2014, where they had the chance to learn and grow together as they lead volunteer projects at sites around Nairobi.
About Global Encounters
» Global Encounters is an initiative of the Jamati Institutions of the Ismaili Muslim community organised in collaboration with the Aga Khan Academy and other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network.
» Global Encounters is open to Ismaili youth aged 15 – 17 on 1 June 2015, who will be entering their last three years of secondary school by September 2015.
» Two camps are being offered in 2015: Camp 1 runs 22 June – 16 July, and Camp 2 is from 10 July – 3 August.
» For more information and to complete an application, please visit www.theismaili.org/go/globalencounters.
The deadline to apply is 7 February 2015.
At Hawker’s Market Girls’ Centre in Parklands, the participants gained as much as they gave. They taught the students their home languages — French, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu — while the young women at the centre taught them Kiswahili and local tribal languages in return.
Participants worked in partnership with local communities to affect positive change. In addition to sharing their time and knowledge at local schools, they volunteered at an orphanage, a women’s empowerment project and a home for the elderly.
Working with local teachers and students at Children’s Garden Home in Kwangware, Global Encounters participants repaired a greenhouse and community garden that supplies the orphanage with nutritious food, built a football pitch and rehabilitated a cafeteria and community space. They also taught classes in mathematics and English.
Making connections, serving humanity and exploring faith and values are key components of the Global Encounters programme. Outside of service, students have a chance to explore Ismaili heritage and learn about local culture, art and music.
Last year, they toured Aga Khan Development Network project sites in Kenya; visited heritage Jamatkhanas and connected with the local Jamat; learnt about local culture, art and music; attended sessions on ethics, leadership and development; and bonded with one another — Ismaili brothers and sisters from around the world.
Zoha Bharwani, from the United States says that the most important thing that she learnt from Global Encounters is “the value and power of the human connection.”
“I have made friends from around the world who I know I will always love and cherish, and who I know will always be there for me through thick and thin,” she says. “I have made connections with the people at my service site…that I never knew were possible to make.”
After they return home, the connections persist. Many participants stay in touch with one another and with the local friends they made in Kenya. They say that Global Encounters continues to impact their lives.
“The journey doesn’t end at camp, you take what you learnt at camp and apply it in your lives back home and see what miracles you can create,” says Inaara.
Qurbonsho Davronov, a participant from Tajikistan agrees. He says that Global Encounters inspired a new sense of confidence in him: “Now I am willing to change my community, to solve the problems it has.”
After returning to her home in Florida, Sarah Ali and some friends started “the Global Garden Project, to aid the students at one of the service sites that we volunteered.”
“I feel that anything is possible,” she says. “Global Encounters has helped me find my way and has, at the same time, provided me with another international family.”