Raphaelle Ayach

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2015


This profile was prepared when Raphaelle Ayach was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
Raphaelle is popularizing inter-cultural education for Egyptian children and providing a framework for diverse human connections. Instead of positive human-to-human intercultural contact being an opportunity only for the elite, Raphaelle is equalizing the exposure to inter-cultural learning—providing an opportunity for underprivileged children whose families lack the financial ability to travel abroad.
Raphaelle is engaging underprivileged children in “touch-feel” simulated travel adventures that harness their imagination. These simulated travel adventures provide meaningful intercultural interactions with people from other cultures, whom Raphaelle calls the “foreign friends.” Under the name of Safarni, which in Arabic means “Allow Me to Travel,” Raphaelle engages the expatriate community in Egypt, Egyptian university volunteers, facilitators, and local Citizen Sector Organizations (CSOs) in one setting with underprivileged children using a curriculum she developed for meaningful intercultural interactions. Such interactions are held in the children's very own neighborhoods, so that the children do not have to go far to discover the world's cultural diversity.
Raphaelle’s simulated travel adventures presents an unprecedented opportunity for the many Arab children that simply have no opportunity to experience ‘the other’ either due to economic reasons or difficulties in obtaining visas. By creating a framework for intercultural connection, Raphaelle both empowers children and revolutionizes their world-view by teaching them to respect difference, celebrate diversity, be curious, ask questions, increase their empathetic skill set, and allow them to be more socially and globally aware. Hence, Raphaelle, through her educational methodology, contributes significantly to changing xenophobic and intolerant attitudes in the Arab region.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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