8:15 AM sharp at the elevators; that’s how we started our day; trying to change the world step by step, trying to come up with ways to re-open the eyes that were closed long ago. Eight different young women from different nations got together under one roof to share their experiences, to help one another by dividing their strengths among one another to stand up and raise their voices. All with the help of two brilliant women who had a dream; a vision that can create positive change. Empowering women, that was our goal. We faced our fears. We cried. We laughed. We empowered each other. And most importantly, we listened to each other. Eight unique personalities, each presented an idea; a marvelous idea to help her nation rise up on its feet, an idea that can open up the eyes of the blind. Four speeches were written by us to Hillary Clinton, and I was fortunate enough to present one I wrote with the help of my friend and fellow, Afnan Bahloul, to Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter, Lissa Muscatine!
One day, we had a trip to New York; it was a day to remember. In 12 hours we did the impossible. We achieved what one cannot achieve in a lifetime. It was like a dream. We were on set “behind the scenes” with Rachel Maddow! Yes, THE Rachel Maddow. We got to talk to her, to ask her questions. And she gave us the most inspiring answers, “keep your eyes on the horizon” is exactly what she said. We got to watch Pray the Devil Back to Hell with the one and only Gini Reticker. We asked her questions about the documentary over lunch. Girl Be Heard was one of my favorite moments during the program; a workshop where I got to express myself through writing. I got to be heard there. It was an absolutely wonderful opportunity to meet all those people.
On the third week we were invited to The State Department to present a policy memo that we had prepared in the first two weeks of the program; we recommended several options, and I am proud to say that we influenced The U.S. Department of State to look at how the US can better support women and girl’s education in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. On the last day of the program we presented our own projects; the projects that we worked on for two and a half weeks. They were inspired by our everyday lives, by the struggles that our countries are facing. My project is to create a new, creative curriculum for the children of Kurdistan. The Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women has helped me know that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.