04 Sep 2015
Hamza Chraibi from Morocco attended the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) just one year ago as a Young Ambassador helping the young athletes make the most of their experience.
And what an impact this had on him! Inspired by the YOG and the drive to empower young people, Hamza decided to take his not-for-profit organisation, Arab Excellence, which highlights success stories in the Arab community, to the next level and pledge to really make a bigger impact on the youth community.
Last week, Hamza dropped by the International Olympic Committee to give an update on his progress and what his inspiring project has achieved since the YOG. He explained that the idea came to him from his mother. She was a teacher in a school for underprivileged kids in Morocco and had noticed that that more and more children did not want to go to class anymore; that were becoming increasingly uninspired and unmotivated, and many dropped out of school with no hope, only to follow dangerous paths. Hamza wanted to do something to help, as he explains: “To put it simply, I wanted to make something happen. Being a Young Ambassador at the Youth Olympic Games gives you a sense of responsibility. And the cultural and educational programmes of the Games helped in giving me insight on how to shape my own idea.” All these aspects led him to create this not-for-profit organisation.
Arab Excellence started out as a website dedicated to highlighting positive role models in the Arab world via interviews conducted by Hamza, with the view that these inspirational stories would encourage young people to strive to do better. See www.arabexcellence.com.
To date, Arab Excellence has already conducted and confirmed interviews with more than 55 amazing role models in different nations, including Olympic champion in athletics Said Aouita from Morocco; Omar Samra, the first Egyptian and youngest Arab to climb Everest and set to be a future astronaut; acclaimed Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who was the first woman to obtain the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel Prize for Architecture; and Ahmed Zewail, the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize, which was for chemistry.
Post-YOG, Hamza decided he wanted Arab Excellence to go further and he needed to be more pro-active in bringing about change, so set about developing workshops and training courses based on these interviews for underprivileged students in order to empower them with strong role models and give them the tools to pragmatically achieve excellence in the future. He is also discussing with partners and educational institutions across the region to implement such programmes locally and to include them in the curricula at high-school level.
Hamza expressed how proud he is that he could start this project from nothing and be able to connect with some of the most prominent and inspiring figures: “Why would CEOs, ministers, Olympians or even presidents meet me? I guess when you really want something to happen, it happens. Through these meetings I am very fortunate to be able to show these role models all over the world - and it has an impact on the younger generations.”
Hamza’s final advice to young people was very simple: “There is no need to wait for a specific programme to be built for you. Go ahead with your own idea; the necessary support will come!”