On July 11, we were delighted to welcome four ambitious girls from the Middle East and North Africa who are participating in the State Department’s TechGirls exchange program. Lina Benamer from Libya, Hafssa Kouskous from Morocco, Seba Salim from Yemen, and Assia Zemir from Algeria demonstrated their passion for technology during their visit and were actively engaged in discussions and meetings with the FCC’s senior leaders.
They are a part of a larger group of 27 tech-savvy girls, ages 15 to 17, visiting the United States to build the skills they will need to succeed in the field of technology. This is the second year in a row that the FCC has enjoyed this opportunity to interact with such young ambitious young women from the Middle East and we look forward to hosting them again.
The girls joined Anita Dey, our International Bureau’s Senior Regional Specialist for Asia, for a busy day of job shadowing and meetings. Bright and thoroughly knowledgeable, the young women expressed interest in business, robotics, medical technology, and social media, among many other topics. They asked pointed questions about the key FCC issues and participated in thoughtful discussions about how technology is evolving and how women can be at the forefront of its progress.
Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn enthusiastically told Lina, Hafssa, Seba, and Assia about her own experiences as a female leader and encouraged the girls to work hard while pursuing their dreams, regardless of the obstacles they may face along the way. The Chairwoman emphasized the importance of having a positive educational environment that allows smart, motivated girls -- like Lina, Hafssa, Seba and Assia -- to thrive. She noted that the role of policy makers is to guarantee a pathway to success for women and girls. “We need to ensure that positive reinforcers are there so that you can reach your potential,” Chairwoman Clyburn said.
Commissioner Pai also offered career advice and gave the girls insight into the FCC’s policy goals.He proudly talked about how his mother pursued a science education in challenging circumstances, and shared his observations about the pace of technological innovation.
When Lina, Hafssa, Seba, and Assia met with Commissioner Rosenworcel, they learned about some of the FCC’s top regulatory issues. The Commissioner stressed how revolutionary the Internet is and said that providing universal access is only going to be accomplished if we all work together to ensure it happens.
The girls met with a panel of female leaders from throughout the FCC. The women shared their thoughts and views on a variety of issues including careers in technology, working in a male-dominated environment, and work-life balance. It was one of many opportunities for the TechGirls to share their goals for the future and receive advice about how to attain them. The panelists reiterated that they needed to have confidence in the face of adversity. One of the panelists, Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau Chief of Staff D’wana Terry, advised the young women to always remember: “I’m a TechGirl. I can do this.”
The girls also attended parts of the FCC’s Access to Capital Conference and Workshop on investing for small, minority and women-owned businesses, where they met with participants to hear about their perspectives on business and entrepreneurship.
They also explored the FCC’s Technology Experience Center where they tested the newest communication technology, including mesmerizing 3D televisions. They were amused by the collection of antique technology that dates back to well before they were born.
At the end of the day, the girls shared their impressions of the FCC with International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre. They admitted that although they were not sure what to expect during their visit, they were pleasantly surprised by all of the encouragement they received, especially from the Chairwoman and the Commissioners. They expressed their gratitude for their day at the FCC and for the TechGirls program in general and said the experience gave them a new sense of confidence with which they were excited to return home.
We were thrilled to have the girls here and to play a small part in supporting their individual goals. They are aiming high, but as Hafssa put it, “The sky isn’t the limit, there is no limit.” We here at the FCC wish them good luck in all their future endeavors.