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09. Oktober 2006

saudi workshop ©Jenny L. Elmaco

Saudi Arabia - Beyond the Veil: This is Me!

I remember smiling today.

Edit encouraging the girls to create their own personal niche in ‘My Space’.
Manal in an interesting bilingual discussion on ‘Women in the Workplace’.
Georgina’s technical savvy translated in lectures on CV writing, business cards and application letters.
Me with my rhetorical skills workshop ending in a vibrant argument about the ‘best dish of Saudi Arabia’.

Collapsing in a fit of giggles with young women who have easily won a place in my heart.

Are these the images of the Kingdom that people usually have?

For four days, Women without Borders used a blend of cognitive, creative and inspiring activities to stimulate learning among the participants. Our goal was to develop the best in each Saudi woman and to encourage her to make a positive impact in her society.

The result was astonishing. Each passing minute, we found the young women becoming more and more confident about themselves, increasingly understanding their roles and responsibilities, and cultivating their skills and talents. Each passing hour, we discovered their potentials easing out and finding its way through our activities, interactions and discussions. Each day, we saw each participants slowly coming out of their shells and proclaiming, ‘This is Me!’

At the end of the workshop, we nodded our heads in agreement when Hadeel said, “A book is not enough, it is better for two people to meet, to meet great people and to be taught in person.” We were proud when Sarah promised, “When I learn, I do what I learn”.
We were inspired when Khawla shared, “I want to help myself to help others”;
And we became ecstatic when Reem exclaimed, “I want to set up an employment agency for women in Saudi Arabia!“

On a personal note, I don’t know if I have ever ‘grown’ so much in just one week. Growth on an intellectual, cognitive and character-building manner. Going to Saudi Arabia provided a new twist in that journey to cultural awareness. In a sense, it made me break out of the cultural box that was stifling me.

This programme crystallizes what I think of women – that wherever they are in the world they are making a difference. It has struck a deep chord deep within me which resonates the belief that in the not-so-distant future each woman will have a voice – a voice that the world cannot afford NOT to listen to.

I thought of all the trainings we made. I played and replayed it until I could taste the desert sands of Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has become a landmark in my mind’s geography - filled with ‘pixels’ of confident young women walking step by step into the future. The overall picture is full of promise and hope.

And today, I will continue to smile.

Jenny Lind Elmaco


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