ACS held the first of its IMPACT speaker series ‘Empowering Women in Sports’ featuring four prominent Lebanese women in sports: May El Khalil, Founder and President of the Beirut Marathon Association; Hania Bissat, Founder and Manager of Exhale; Diala Kassem Sammakieh, Founder and Business Development Manager of Trybe Digital Marketing and Customer Engagement, and a national athlete; Alissar Caracalla, Choreographer Caracalla Dance Theatre and Artistic Director Caracalla Dance School. The event was moderated by Mikey Muhanna, ACS Alumni of '03, Board of Trustee Member and Founder & Executive Director of afikra (عفكرة).
IMPACT, a new project for ACS, provides the opportunity for attendees to be inspired and empowered while listening to and interacting with aspiring leaders in the community. The setting, casual and intimate, creates a feeling of closeness with the speakers. Spearheaded by Director of Alumni and Community Relations, Danai El Hajj Ibrahim, the goal was best summed up by Head of School, Greg MacGilpin when he said “we are hoping that these stories will impact each of us personally and as a community.”
Over 70 alumni, parents, students and community members attended the evening. Students came after their sports practice and HS Drama students were present with their teacher Dyane Stillman. Some audience members came to hear inspiring stories, some came for empowerment, some came out of curiosity. Teacher Joelle Yacoub said “I came because I love sports.” For Middle School Counselor Oulaya Samhoun, she is “interested in what women are doing in our country.” Most agreed it was like attending a ‘Ted Talk’ or a mini Tedex.
Advice and encouragement were aplenty during the evening. Audience members were told many times to be disciplined, positive and true to themselves, following their passion. That there is no ‘perfect’ time to do something, just do it. In order to succeed you must surround yourself with a great team, united towards one goal, moving together. Since the event was held at ACS, the question of the importance of education came up. One of the speakers said “passion needs guidance and that is obtained through education.” All of the speakers have ties to ACS and were delighted to share their experiences.
The next day there was a lot of talk in the hallways at ACS and among friends. Women loved the evening and many attendees felt it was the best event ACS has hosted. They would like to see more of the series and on a larger scale. Some felt empowered and one student told her mother that she knew of the concepts but did not really understand them until that evening. Since it was an evening of Empowering Women, the comment from the moderators father was especially poignant. He said “women should stop thanking their husbands, they did not get you here, you did!”
Biographies of the speakers and information about the next series can be found here on the ACS website.