Fellows' Reflections: Lisa MacKenzie

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At the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to attend the MiSK Global Forum, alongside former MENAR fellow Jordan Lee and MENAR board member Madison Marks. The MiSK Foundation is philanthropic organization established by Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz that promotes the development and empowerment of Saudi youth through education, workforce development, and more. The organization funds schools, internships, full scholarships, and opportunities for Saudi youth and puts together the annual MiSK Global Forum.

The trip to Riyadh enabled me to network with globally-minded, smart, engaged, and curious young professionals from across the world — from among over 3,500 attendees, the majority of whom were Saudi. Beyond providing opportunities for networking and connecting with others at any given moment, the conference addressed three key themes: thriving as adaptable individuals, adjusting to the human-machine partnership, and revamping uniquely human collaboration.

Attending the MiSK Forum and meeting hundreds of young professionals, entrepreneurs, and engaged youth from Saudi Arabia and rest of the world was a unique experience. I was particularly impressed by the young Saudi women who seemed to make up nearly half of the conference attendees. From women speaking onstage in a niqab about their incredibly successful start-up coding program for girls or their experiences becoming professional athletes and leaders, to the (actually) countless number of women I met with their own start-ups, I was inspired by their initiative. The concentration of such promising individuals and enthusiasm for the role of youth in the workforce and shaping the future was tangible. Attending the conference reinstated my belief in the significance of collaboration, adaptability, innovation, and global-mindset in both my own path and in our increasingly interconnected world. I hope that future fellows will be granted the opportunity to attend the MiSK Global Forum in future years.

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