Guest post by Sara Benyakhlef, 2015 Emerging Leader from Morocco
“Think big. You can do it!”
I lived one of the most life-changing and inspiring experiences. This exchange program is a unique program where you can find a mix between cultural richness, professional development and personal development.
Cultural diversity had been present at its highest level. I met 98 Emerging Leaders from 19 different countries in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. For the first time, Asian participants were present. I feel lucky that I met them – discovering their culture and collaborating with them along with other countries and cultures. Such synergy, cultural mixture and exposure to the U.S. culture was inspiring. The professional mentorship was a great opportunity to deepen my knowledge and professional experience in the solar energy field. Learning about the most advanced technologies in that field and being mentored by the most helpful and kind people made the experience wonderful.
As a green TechWomen, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in many different and professional events. I still remember our visit to the Berkeley Laboratory, where we were hosted by the Energy Technologies Area (ETA), and we learned more about energy research and green technology. We shared a rich exchange with ETA staff on building energy, renewables and microgrids.
I participated in many cultural events related to many fields. One of the most inspiring of them was the lecture, “A Random Walk Through Science,” at the University of California in Berkeley. The lecture was given by Dr. Steven Chu, former U.S. Secretary of Energy (2009-2013) and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics. Attending such an event was very inspirational for me as a green-tech researcher.
During the leadership and personal development workshops of the program, the most prominent thing that I realized is how powerful I am and how strong my abilities are to make a positive change. One of the most
inspiring women that I met in Silicon Valley was Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of Theranos. Spending a day full of leadership workshops and inspiration from such a leader has been very inspirational for me.
Whatever the situation is and the obstacles are, I do have the abilities to achieve my goals and to make a better change in my home country, Morocco.
I can do it. Yes, I can!
Sara Benyakhlef is a researcher with the Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN). She received her diploma in materials and process engineering in 2012 from the National School of Arts and Professions (ENSAM-Meknes). She is pursuing a Ph.D. in renewable energy technology with a specialization in concentrated solar power technology at ENSAM, where she also delivers lectures and practical courses for engineering students. She contributed to several publications in the solar energy field and took part in many international renewable energy trainings. Sara is a member of the Moroccan Committed Youth Network of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation. She represents her network in many international sustainable development events. Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.