“I found WYA’s values to be identical to my values, that of my community, and my country. The WYAME RDO position is not just another job for me, but a way for me to contribute to a cause I believe in,” shares Nicholas Maalouf. This unique motivation is what compelled him to apply for and eventually accept the role of Regional Director of Operations for WYA Middle East.
When he’s not promoting human dignity, Nicholas enjoys hiking and visiting archeological sites. “I got to visit places that I did not know existed, discovered new landscapes, and was exposed to different communities,” Nicholas says of his favorite hobby. He is also immensely interested in politics (“It affects our daily lives whether we like it or not”), philosophy (“Knowing how another person thinks and deals with practical problems and existential questions helps me understand them better”), and history (“It is important to know what decisions were previously taken so we can avoid making these same mistakes”). It is no small wonder, then, that Nicholas found so much to give and take from the World Youth Alliance.
Nicholas considers it his duty as a Lebanese citizen to continue Dr. Charles Malik’s legacy of involving Lebanon in human rights affairs. This is why in his new role, he has chosen to focus on “expanding the base the organization already has in the Middle East through 1) increasing social media activity, 2) further enriching Certified Training Program content, and 3) encouraging cross-cultural meetings”. His three-pronged vision ties back to engaging and empowering recent and potential youth members for the Middle Eastern region.
“With travel made difficult in the region for security reasons, the importance of social media grows even more important,” Nicholas says, elaborating on his intent to significantly maximize the Middle East office’s online presence. “This expansion would include increasing WYAME’s social media footprint by opening accounts on more platforms such as Twitter and Google+ to engage the region’s youth more.”
More than that, Nicholas believes engagement entails a certain level of localization, which he addresses in his second strategy. “The Certified Training Program content, while very rich, largely overlooks Islamic scholars who are the main part of the Middle East’s cultural and religious tapestry. I envision adding more Islamic scholarly articles talking about the importance of human dignity, more than the existing 5-page excerpt by Mohammad Zufralla Khan,” he expounds. “This would also intellectually attract more youth from the Middle East to the organization.”
Finally, his third tenet relies on an organic trickle-down effect of WYA advocacy to expand the region’s base. “An increase in training attended by participants from all over the region increases cross-cultural communication within the Middle East and encourages said participants to pass down what they have learned,” Nicholas explains. “These steps would increase the number of signatories, applicants, and chapters in ME.”
The Middle East has much in store for it in the coming months under its new operations director. Nicholas states: “The three things to look forward to under my leadership would be a wider reach for the promotion of human dignity in the region, a deeper engagement with the region’s youth, and a contribution to changing the region’s perception on the role of youth in society.” Addressing the Middle East youth directly, Nicholas offers a Certified Training Program (CTP) quote from Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning: “Only slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace truth that no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.”
As he officially begins his exciting term, Nicholas reaches out to WYA members, friends, and donors, whether or not they come from the Middle East: “We live in a time where discrimination and slanderous propaganda campaigns belonging to different groups, governments, and communities are rampant and working tirelessly to dehumanize each other. This makes WYA’s mission all the more important in drowning out the voice of dehumanization and showing everyone that they are all equal in dignity regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or creed.”