Reflections on Youth Empowerment

Theodora Skeadas
YWCA Cambridge Board of Trustees

YWCA Cambridge is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity. These have always been passions of mine. After college, my passion for combating discrimination, the promotion of youth and women’s empowerment, and conflict resolution led me to work and study in Morocco, Turkey, and Iraq. 

In Morocco, I worked for the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center, where I managed a community development project that provided programming on theater, music, and athletics to Moroccan Arabic-speaking women and youth.

While working with Search for Common Ground’s Morocco office, I helped lead a multimedia and intercultural relations program in Casablanca. The project consisted of training French and English-speaking Sub-Saharan migrant women and Arabic-speaking young Moroccan mothers to produce films, documentaries, and advertisements dealing with intercultural relations. We also held discussions on the various forms of discrimination the women encountered, to empower and build relationships amongst our participants, and to break down cultural stereotypes and prejudices.  

I then sought to undertake a Fulbright grant in Turkey, in part, because I desired to leverage my English teaching skills and knowledge of the region and culture in service of Turkish students eager to learn English. Further, as part of my fellowship, I researched the barriers to employment for Syrian refugee youth in southeastern Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan through interviews in Turkish and Arabic, reading, and travel.

My experiences around anti-racism, women’s and youth empowerment, and conflict resolution in the Middle East and North Africa were tremendously meaningful to me.

Today, I am thrilled to be supporting these initiatives through the YWCA Cambridge! I serve as the Clerk on our Board of Trustees, and I have helped support our efforts around the annual Tribute to Outstanding Women, an event where we recognize resilient women who work to eliminate racism and empower other women, and we thank them for their commitment to our local community. Further, as a member of the Governance Committee, I help the Board increase its efficiency, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the YWCA Cambridge in delivering meaningful services and programming to our constituents.

Theo 1
Conducting research in Erbil, Iraq; November 1, 2013
Theo 2
Theo and her students in Antalya, Turkey;  December 23, 2013
36225075_10156242597056125_4647888379369750528_o
Board Members, Theo, Jennifer, and Emily; June 25, 2018
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