CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2021

Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of this global event to celebrate the achievements of women around the world, we are highlighting some of the incredible women at AMIDEAST whose talents, skills, and efforts make our programming possible. Thank you for everything that you do.

The theme of this year’s campaign is #ChooseToChallenge, a call to challenge inequality and to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Read on and join us in celebrating the women who create hope, opportunity, and mutual understanding among people in the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States through life-changing opportunities for education and cultural exchanges. 

Operations Manager Sherin Adel has been dedicated to the work of AMIDEAST/Egypt for over 10 years! Beginning as an office manager, she worked her way up to a leadership position and her current role includes major responsibilities. She oversees budgeting and reporting, develops and implements operational policies and procedures, liaises with governmental divisions and ministries for AMIDEAST programs, and tackles any logistical or strategic challenge AMIDEAST faces — such as last year’s major move of the AMIDEAST/Alexandria branch to its new location in the historic American Center. Sherin has an eye for talent, invests in training and mentorship for her team, and is “always eager to support AMIDEAST and its functions whenever or wherever needed.” 
Abeer El-Hayek, the English language and training officer at AMIDEAST/Gaza, began working at AMIDEAST 16 years ago with the goal of helping her community learn English and unlock hidden opportunities. Her work entails initiating, planning, and supervising English language training programs and services, including the American English Scholarship Program, Skills for Success®, Start Your Own Business, PCELT, and Business English for Women. Abeer is continuously looking for ways to improve her capabilities and provide the best possible experience to students, which is why she earned her Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) Diploma in 2018 and is currently wrapping up her master’s degree in Innovations in Teaching and Learning from the University of South Wales. She seeks to “normalize innovation and creativity in my work,” driving teachers and students to think about language learning in new ways.
Programs and Operations Coordinator at AMIDEAST/Iraq, Amenah Amir, brings nearly a decade of high-level experience to her role leading AMIDEAST programs in Baghdad and the southern Iraqi governorates. She heads the recruitment of international exchange program nominees, builds capacity of remote learning, oversees all operations and financial tasks in the Baghdad office, and administers exams on behalf of AMIDEAST’s testing services. She takes pride that, throughout her career, she has had the “honor to empower women and young girls.” In her previous work in the humanitarian field, she supported internally displaced families as well as women and girls facing domestic violence. Now at AMIDEAST, she continues “to empower women by expanding the reach of our programs and making sure that our programs equally reach women and girls in Iraq.” 
AMIDEAST/Jordan’s Afra Ramadan is committed to supporting Jordanian students at every level. With 14 years of cumulative experience, she has significant insight into AMIDEAST’s numerous departments and programs and the various ways they enable her to make a difference in the lives of young Jordanians. She has worked as an English teacher, in AMIDEAST’s testing department, and in exchange programs supporting the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. Today Afra specializes in authenticating certificates issued from U.S. educational institutions — helping Jordanian graduates of U.S. schools and universities obtain the necessary authentication to work or pursue further studies in Jordan. One of her favorite opportunities while at AMIDEAST has been to “work with young talents and have the chance to transfer knowledge and experience to them where they can pursue in their career in the future.” 
As the head of testing at AMIDEAST/Kuwait, Rashmi Pillai has led her department through a difficult year of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges of this period, under her management of the Prometric Test Center passed three successive audits and the number of TOEFL ITP® and TOEIC® tests taken increased! Rashmi began working at AMIDEAST/Kuwait 12 years ago, as a temporary employee hired for a single day to administer an exam. The Testing Department was so impressed with her work they requested her resume and hired her full-time. Rashmi brings her dedication and management skills to ensure that young men and women are able to access the computer- and paper-based exams they need for their academic and professional careers.
“It is impossible to count the number of students I have taught from schools, universities, and organizations, but I have tried to make each interaction with my students meaningful,” says Beth Ann Khalil, the director of the English Language Department at AMIDEAST/Lebanon and a long-time English teacher. Beth is in charge of developing, monitoring, and evaluating English language courses and programs. This includes the program closest to her heart: the English Access Microscholarship (Access) Program funded by the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, through which she values the opportunity to guide over 6,700 Lebanese public-school students through their journey to learn English and about American culture and values. Beth brings her extensive experience, degrees, and native English-speaking skills to each student, focusing on “providing excellent English language courses to fit the needs of Lebanese with a more global perspective” as well as “looking for ways to raise women up and develop their talents and skills to succeed.”
Naseim Omeish skillfully manages AMIDEAST’s education, training, and exchange programs in Libya and is the point of contact for the Libya External Office. Joining the AMIDEAST team in November 2019, Naseim relocated from Benghazi to Tunis and enjoyed constantly learning and being challenged in her new role. Through her work on the Youth and Exchange (YES) program and Skills for Tomorrow, she facilitates skills development and civic engagement for Libyan youth. Naseim is especially proud to serve underprivileged communities outside of Libya’s major cities, including in the Tawergha Refugee Camp near Tripoli and in the remote region of Jalu.
AMIDEAST/Saudi Arabia program officer Abeer Hassanain is “so grateful to be working with a wonderful team and in a good environment.” A graduate of King Saud University with degrees in business and economics, she has a background in international educational exchange. She lived in the UK for five years and volunteered with the Saudi Culture Mission, helping Saudi scholarship students navigate live abroad. At AMIDEAST, where she has worked since 2014, Abeer manages the U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program for Saudi high schoolers. She also manages AMIDEAST’s Skills for Success® program, funded by Citi Foundation, which helps unemployed Saudi youth gain skills essential for today’s workplace.
Rania Bennaceur, the English language program coordinator at AMIDEAST/Tunisia’s Sousse office, proudly manages her team of 12 teachers and ensures the quality of both public and contract classes. After earning a master’s degree in English literature, she started working at AMIDEAST in 2018 — initially as a customer service representative but soon worked her way up to coordinating the English language department! She also completed a TESOL certificate from Arizona State University. Her job at AMIDEAST “offers me the chance to see Tunisian youth and young women from the region pursue their dreams. As we invest in the growth of our students and provide the best English language training, we pave the way for young women to excel in English and improve their academic and professional prospects.”
In her 15+ year career, AMIDEAST/UAE’s Aya Rajakaurna has primarily worked in the educational testing and assessment sector, a field through which she has been able “to provide tools and assessments to empower the youth of tomorrow.” As the corporate business solutions executive, she identifies new business opportunities to generate revenue, improve profitability, and help AMIDEAST operate and grow strategically. Although the recent COVID-19 lockdowns presented a challenge in this role, her team worked hard to implement and roll out remote proctoring for their clients in the UAE — building a foundation early on for all remote proctoring being done today in the UAE and allowing her to continue to “play a small part in young peoples’ academic and professional journeys.”
In her 27-year career, Assistant Country Director Maha Hasan at AMIDEAST/West Bank has mentored numerous students in their educational journey so that they have a platform to create social change. Her work now largely consists of managing the scholarships and exchange programs that AMIDEAST offers, including the Fulbright, Hope Fund, Youth Exchange and Study (YES), and English Access Microscholarships (Access) programs. One of Maha’s proudest accomplishments was building AMIDEAST/West Bank’s office from a staff of three people and minimal programs in the late 1990s to offering numerous English language and training programs across five offices, as well as guiding her colleagues to have successful careers along the way. A common thread throughout has been Maha’s readiness to mentor young women. She is “a true believer that education is important to the empowerment of women and gives them the skills, knowledge, and self-confidence needed to become a global leader and serve their community.”
For AMIDEAST/Yemen’s Nisha Vasudevan, her role as teacher coordinator has “given me numerous opportunities to empower many youths through programs like EASP, NSP, and Access. I will always be grateful for every opportunity given to me to help my society.” An AMIDEAST employee since 2002, she holds degrees in geochemistry and soil research as well as teaching English as a foreign language. As the teacher coordinator, Nisha ensures that all AMIDEAST/Yemen teachers provide consistent, effective guidance and supervision that supports the students’ learning process and adheres to AMIDEAST’s global teaching objectives and policies. She is especially grateful for her role in the new AMAL program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, which provides virtual English instruction to young Yemeni women as well as trains them on cloud and virtual learning applications. “Watching them progress so well has made me feel very proud,” she asserts.