Saudi scholarship students participate in 22 volunteer project


Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — In conjunction with World Volunteer Day, King Salman Youth Center in partnership with the Scholarship Agency of the Ministry of Education and the Cultural Attache has launched the first-of-its-kind initiative to boost volunteerism among Saudi scholarship students studying abroad. Entitled “Saudis Passed by Here,” the initiative centers on a competition among Saudi scholarship students around the world to present volunteer projects based on furthering the social good and that reflect the positive contribution of Saudi students to volunteerism.

The competition involves 22 special volunteer projects in 12 countries in Asia, Europe, Australia and America, which highlight the charitable works of the students in their roles as representatives of the Kingdom abroad. The goal is not only to celebrate this spirit of giving but to provide encouragement for the continued development of volunteer programs that can be sustained over time.

In South Korea, Jordan and China, scholarship students are operating four programs under consideration: “You Are Not Alone,” “Save a Life”, “Melting Pot”, and “The Charity.”

In Hungary, Scotland, Ireland and the UK, participating projects include “Debrecan University,” “White Hands,” “Saudi Youth Vision Team”, “Edinburgh Volunteer Team”, “The Meaning”, “We Care”, and “Team Tolerance.”

From Australia and New Zealand come “Giving” and the “Kiwi Saudi Team” while students in the US have the largest number of programs under consideration: “Warmth”, “Saudi Volunteer Group in Arlington, Texas”, “Be Kind to People”, “Success Makers”, “US to Iowa”, “Us to Cleveland”, “Us to Orlando”, “US to Knoxville”, “Hand by Hand”, “US to Youngstown”, and the “Boston Volunteering Team”. The US entries come from Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Iona, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, New York and Knoxville.

According to Mohammed Al Asiri, Director of the King Salman Youth Center, the “We Give” initiative of World Volunteer Day and the “Saudi Passed by Here” competition are exemplary of the value-added nature of Saudi Arabia’s study abroad scholarship program as the students strive to represent the Kingdom in the most honorable way possible while nurturing their creativity in finding non-traditional solutions to the world’s problems. After honing these skills abroad, returning students will be able to transfer them to the Kingdom’s youth culture, further instilling a sense of volunteerism in Saudi Arabia.

“There was wide-spread participation on the part of Saudi students abroad,” said Al Asiri, “which is an encouraging reflection of their interest in the benefits of volunteer work and their ability to create a varied group of projects.”
Students in the US made up the largest percentage of participants, 47.1%, followed by those in the UK at 13%.

Participants also comprised both men and women with 63% of the volunteers male and 37% female. Nearly 40% of those who volunteered said that their decision to participate in the initiative came from a desire to present Saudi Arabia in the best possible light internationally. The second most popular reason for participating was a love charity.

The competition is made up of seven phases, four of which have already been completed. In the first phase, students’ volunteer experiences in the scholarship countries was monitored. The second phase focused on the “Saudi Passed by Here” competition, receiving applications from October 26 to November 5, 2017.

The third phase included the selection by jury of 25 projects to become part of the competition while the fourth phase included, planning, organizing and preparing the selected volunteer projects, providing financial and logistical support, assigning a pre-launch preparatory team, and documenting all field projects.

The fifth phase, held on Tuesday, December 5, is the most public of the phases thus far with volunteer work highlighted in the media and through the Center’s media platform to reach the communities of scholarship countries.
Phase six will include the evaluation of the participating projects by a special jury from December 6 through December 30, 2017. The final phase to take place in January 2018 will honor the top 5 projects. One project from each continent will be awarded.

King Salman Youth Center (KSYC) is a non-profit Riyadh-based organization founded to support and inspire the youth to build professional leaders and successful entrepreneurs. It also aims to establish a platform to connect youth with officials and organizations.