By Dunia Basaleh
“Six years ago, If you had asked me about my plans and future perspective, the answer would have been simple: Graduate from college, get a job, establish a career, and that is it. I would have completed everything on my checklist. This narrow college-to-job perspective made me realize that I haven’t done anything that would help change someone’s life for the better or would help make the community a better place. However, I never imagined that a girl like me, coming from a simple background, could be an active part of the dynamic movement of social innovation!”
Dana AlKurdi, a leader and alumna of the Amman Innovation Lab Clubhouse in Jordan, sets an inspiring example for all girls with the enthusiasm and passion to take actions of positive change.
A school competition of mobile application development led Dana AlKurdi to the Innovation Lab Clubhouse, where a safe, up-to-date environment for after-school learning is provided.
“Explore the computer in front of you, learn, design, compete, and spread the knowledge around, and eventually, be the change!” This was the philosophy of our Clubhouse, based on the principles of self-education and implemented the help of professional mentors and volunteers aiming to orient youth and shape their skills according to their interests.”
As a young developer of the “Hungry Maizy” mobile game, Dana’s journey was launched in the Innovation Lab Clubhouse. “Hungry Maizy” had a contagious effect that sparked curiosity among the other students attending the Lab, inspiring them to learn more and explore the world of game development!
Over the years, Dana gained a variety of skills and demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities that made her eligible to become a mentor at the Clubhouse. Through the various programs held in the Clubhouse, including the Global Citizen Corps (GCC) program and the Model United Nations (MUN) Program, Dana was able to expand her perspective of the future from a College-to-Job spectrum to a wider vision, aiming to be an effective cornerstone in the social innovation movement.
From public health to the environment and green energy, from education and poverty to women and disability rights, Dana took a leading role in the various initiatives established in the GCC program, providing solutions for the community’s pressing issues, and contributing to a society of development and productivity.
Dana’s contributions are vast. One example of that is the role she took in spreading the culture of debate and dialogue, starting with the students of the Innovation Lab Clubhouse. Dana’s skills of communication and critical thinking were enhanced by the MUN and GCC programs, which helped her become a trainer in the debate clubs of Princess Basma Youth Resource Center and the Innovation lab Clubhouse.
Dana also worked on involving those with hearing disabilities. She worked with the “Al Rajaa School for the Deaf” to make sure they were able to participate in the debate. This had the greatest effect on our community because it showed that people with disabilities could and do effectively participate in the various activities present in society.
Where does this list of achievements leave Dana today? You can find her under the title of Chairman of Jeel962, a local youth network for social change. From an enthusiastic girl to developing mobile applications, Dana is now a leader with a vision and goal of being a part of the social movement of positive change.
During Dana’s time at Amman Innovation Lab, she won a C2C (Clubhouse to College/Career) STEM scholarship in 2015 and studied Power & Electrical Engineering at The Hashemite University to achieve her goals. Through her experiences and education, Dana’s dreams came true. She now works as a Design Engineer of Renewable Energy at Mustakbal company in Amman, Jordan.
“My journey with the Innovation Lab Clubhouse changed me from a person who had nothing to do with the community to a person who is aiming to make a difference. Before the Innovation Labs Clubhouse, I was the one playing the game behind the screen, and I have never imagined myself as the person making it. I turned from the player to the maker!”
“The Innovation Lab Clubhouse is one of the best things that ever happened to me, and without it, I would have never become the person I am today.”
Dunia Basaleh is an alumna and former Coordinator at the Jordan Innovation Lab in Amman, Jordan where she mentored Dana and many other members. She continues to inspire others to be creative and pursue their passions.