Birzeit University Students Win International Ripples of Happiness Contest

A team from Birzeit University was awarded first place in Ripples of Happiness Program, a university outreach program in its eighth year that encourages community involvement and is organized by the Coca-Cola Foundation and Injaz-Al Arab.

“Melody of Happiness,” the winning project, was rated first among those submitted by 22 universities in six different Arab countries. The project establishes a center for teaching music to children in Saffa village and surrounding villages. The winning team was awarded $10,000 to fund and scale up their project.

Palestine’s Polytechnic University team came in third place for its project, “Autism Silent Energy,” which raises the Palestinian community’s awareness about autism.

“ Such initiatives encourage youth to engage socially and take the lead in social change in their communities through innovation,” Dean of Students Affairs Mohammad Al-Ahmad said. “Today our students have shown success in responding to the local community’s needs, and soon they will be able to play an active role and have a positive impact on the lives of those around them.”

Birzeit University strongly believes in the importance of developing the culture of voluntarism among youth, Al-Ahmad said. “We see it as part of our mission to stimulate and develop this social awareness among students and push them to present and share their ideas with the community.”

One of the winning students Afaf Shakarneh described the project. “We believe that there is no culture without music. That is why we chose the idea of building a music center in a remote area like Saffa. Music acts as a means of giving voice to people whoever and wherever they are, and we want to be those who give that tool to those who don’t have it.”

The Ripples of Happiness program is geared toward empowering youth and equipping them to become socially responsible members of their respective societies. The program instills a strong sense of entrepreneurship in the participants, and plants seeds of workplace readiness that continue to blossom even after the program has come to an end. The Coca-Cola Foundation joins forces with INJAZ-Al-Arab to train university students in the art of identifying opportunities in their local communities and how to implement projects that will leave a positive impact as a strategy to encourage other members of society to follow their lead, thus creating a 'ripple effect' that will continue to spread from one generation to another.