Shaping a new vision for the Middle East, 37 youth to convene at Stanford summit

The Arab Spring revolutions may not have delivered the democratic outcomes many had hoped for but they have emboldened a generation of young leaders working to shape a new vision for the Middle East. Breaking away from traditional molds, these Arab Spring youth are leading programs where young people are taking an active role in political systems, the social sector, and the business world.

In an effort to harness the potential of this group of change-makers, cultivate a new generation of leaders committed to advancing collaborative change, and connect them to a global network to strengthen their efforts, the American and Middle East Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) was born.

On April 13-17, AMENDS will convene its second annual conference at Stanford bringing together 37 young people from the Middle East and the U.S. who are pioneering initiatives for social transformation.

Founded by two Stanford undergraduates in the wake of the Arab Spring, AMENDS provides a virtual and in-person forum for dialogue and collaboration.

“Two years after the Arab Spring, we think it is more important than ever that young leaders have a platform that amplifies their voices,” says AMENDS co-founder Khaled Al-Shawi (BA ’13) from Bahrain.

Among the talented 2013 delegates include: a young Egyptian women working to combat sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo through community patrol groups; an entrepreneur supporting innovative and creative start-ups in Lebanon; an American artist using slam poetry to bring together urban youth; and several young activists working on peace initiatives in the region.

A student organization housed at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, AMENDS held their inaugural conference last year. In such a short time, it has grown into a premier forum for young entrepreneurs and activists committed to social change. The group received over 300 delegate applications this year, signaling the vast untapped potential across the region and the importance of an initiative like AMENDS to support promising young talent.

“At last year’s conference, we were continually inspired by the conversations and collaborations that occurred between our delegates,” adds Elliot Stoller (BA ’13), another AMENDS co-founder from Chicago, Illinois. “This year, we hope to expand on that success by connecting with an even more global audience.”

Over five days, AMENDS delegates will participate in skill-building workshops, deliver a TED-style talk about their project, interact with Stanford faculty and scholars, and engage in networking sessions. Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry will deliver a keynote address on April 15 and Prince Mouley Hicham ben Abdallah, a principal advisor to the organization, will address the delegates on April 13.

AMENDS participants connect to a larger network of change-makers to enhance their capacity, increase their professional networks, and heighten the visibility of their innovative projects. After the conference, AMENDS talks are posted online providing a global platform for delegates' ideas to have a much wider impact and resonance.

AMENDS talks will be held at Stanford University and are free and open to the public. To review the schedule, please visit: http://www.stanford.edu/group/amends/cgi-bin/annual-summit/2013-summit-schedule/