By Paolo Jr. Mrad
IBDAA and Kazamind at the epicenter of the voices of Lebanon’s Youth
Rooted in its unwavering spirit of innovation, “The International Biodiversity Day at AUB” or IBDAA, has from its inception to its 14th edition last year remained a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to apply their classroom knowledge to real world environmental issues. In 2006, IBDAA began with students from one nuclear Chemistry class. It quickly proved its unique potential and grew over to all faculties at the American University of Beirut. Over the past four years, IBDAA has broadened its reach to become a highly anticipated nationwide student event for interdisciplinary ideation and innovation to tackle our most pressing environmental issues. Through a model that addresses the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, IBDAA has remained a transformative opportunity in the MENA region. For those thousands of participating students, it’s an accomplishment worth bragging about as they enter into the workforce.
While unorthodox in its approach, IBDAA fosters a tremendous sense of creativity, astuteness, and awareness of sustainability archetypes throughout its emphasis on the interdisciplinary collaboration of its participants. Practical learning in the framework of a poster-based forum is at the focal point of the IBDAA experience and lends itself to honing the potential of its student participants to develop new solutions to intricate problems which can span the economic, social, and environmental sectors simultaneously. IBDAA is conducted over a semester with professors and students in courses across participating universities. The program coalesces in a public poster forum, where student participants receive feedback from experts in their field. After the main event, students are encouraged to continue in their initiatives through great exposure to multiple start-up support programs, academic research and development, along with other available opportunities. For countless students, IBDAA has been the program that enabled them to go on and birth startups and NGOs, and most importantly to build foundational skill sets that are in high demand.
Once again for its 15th edition the organizing committee, led by director of the AUB-NCC, Dr. Najat Aoun Saliba, is set to break the mold through the overhauling of the traditional IBDAA formula. While preserving its identity as a project-centric endeavor, the event is to transition towards a drastically more humanitarian approach in light of recent disasters which have disparaged Lebanon. In partnership with “Khaddit Beirut”, the organizing committee is dedicated to channeling youth-leadership within the fields of arts, community health, education, the environment, and small to medium business support. Instead of instigating the discourse of its participants over the importance of environmental responsibility as it usually does, IBDAA is paving the way towards promulgating activities which revolve around rebuilding and reforging Lebanon while setting the stage for victims and affected communities to share their stories with the world.
Inspired by a similar vision in mind, Marc Darazi and Christelle Rassi -two students majoring in Chemistry at the American University of Beirut- are striving to bring unity to the cacophony of ideas and opinions emancipating our community. Driven by their passion for discovery and learning in the framework of broadening their horizons and intertwining their knowledge to their daily life practices, they have worked very assiduously on developing this platform which endeavors to bridge the gap between aspiring, talented individuals and their dreams. Dubbed Kazamind which is representative of its status as an encompassing hub of the many thoughts , their platform characterizes a simple, yet very efficacious way for students to share what they may be proud of : whether it be their research, their stories, or their art in the goal of sharing their vision with others, to start a conversation. In retrospect to how difficult it has become for young people to find their footing in reputable newspapers or online platforms, Kazamind sets itself apart as a pioneer in heralding the work of the younger generation, a generation which, for long, has desired to explore its intellectual capabilities through tackling diverse topics and sharing said topics with the world.
Within that line of thought, IBDAA and Kazamind have decided to partner up given the extent to which their objectives intersect. Both initiatives’ ultimate goal is to provide a voice to individuals who otherwise may not have access to the means needed to share their ideas with the rest of Lebanon, let alone the rest of the world. The premise of such a collaboration is that teams participating in IBDAA would be given the opportunity to share the outcome of their projects on Kazamind’s online platform, bolstering the reach of their idea and potentially reaching out to interested third-parties such as investors. With that said, and on behalf of both programs, we are truly looking forward to unraveling the eclectic ideas which our diligent participants have come up with, as we are certain that we will be enthralled by the ingenuity and innovation of your projects.