In fall of 2017, Guilford College won The Washington Center’s 2017 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award for its Every Campus A Refuge program. Part of the award was a scholarship for one student from Guilford College to attend The Washington Center’s Inside Washington Academic Seminar on Media, Politics, and Advocacy. The Seminar lasted from January 2nd until January 14th, exposing attendees to Washington, D.C. culture, a number of political vantage points, and local nonprofits doing work aligning with ECAR’s mission.
The Guilford College student nominated and then later selected for this honor was Salah Sayess ’18.
Salah is double majoring in Health Science and Exercise Science. Initially, Salah came to Guilford largely because of the Golf program. As his college years went on, he started thinking about joining a program that better aligned with his values. So Salah quit golf and found ECAR to take its place.
Salah says, “ECAR was the perfect opportunity for me.” He started helping out with tutoring which quickly branched out into helping out with job applications, filling out tax forms, helping kids get registered for school, assisting people with English, and just being their friend.
When Salah arrived at The Washington Center he said it was “definitely not an experience that was in my comfort zone.” Most people there were seasoned political science majors looking to get more entrenched in the field, but Salah was looking for something else. He was looking for genuine politicians that honored their title and were devoted to solving problems in their community.
Salah heard from various different speakers on different sides on the spectrum. He heard from Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, CSPAN executives, and many more local leaders in the nonprofit world. One of his favorite moments was when Congressman Joe Kennedy III talked to his group asking them questions about what they thought, gathered their opinions, and did very little talking. He also had the opportunity to meet the first Congresswoman from Vietnam, Stephanie Murphy and found her inspirational.
Salah “dreams to help out people in need, be that refugees, immigrants, or people experiencing homelessness,” he wants to be part of a greater mission for good. No matter the cause, Salah and other people involved in ECAR know that change is slow but absolutely necessary to the progression of society.