Layla Younis, of Lincoln, an August 2016 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who majored in English and journalism, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bahrain for the 2017-18 academic year.
The opportunity fits well with her goal of advancing women’s education in communities affected by conflict, specifically in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 160 designated countries. Students such as Younis are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Younis’ relationship with the region goes back to her youth and the connection her family has maintained to their former hometown of Zaxho, Iraq. Her interest in international conflict and education was solidified by her experience traveling to Iraq in 2001 and 2010. However, those were not her only international experiences. In 2015, she was awarded a Gilman scholarship to study abroad in Morocco. In 2016, she traveled to Oman on a Critical Language Scholarship.
She has also dedicated her time and talents to minority group outreach projects on campus and throughout Lincoln. She has been involved in Middle Eastern Students Unite, Women’s Week and Week Without Violence. She has also worked as a leader and host for the Middle Eastern Women’s Discussion Group and as a moderator for the Women and the Middle East discussion panel.
Younis said she is excited for the opportunities she will have in Bahrain to meet new people and experience the food and music she has learned about during her undergraduate career.
Fulbright participants are encouraged to expand their experience outside of the classroom through volunteering or a community outreach project. With writing and publishing experiences at Great Plains Quarterly, The Daily Nebraskan and the Lincoln Journal Star, Younis plans to create a literary magazine or newsletter during her time in Bahrain. She said she hopes community members will think critically and engage with topics they are passionate about while participating in the publication process. Her goal is to set a strong foundation that will enable the community to continue publishing after her time there.
Upon her return to the United States, Younis’ goal is to complete a master’s program where she can continue to study Arabic and education so she can teach communities in conflict areas.