Anas Talalqa, 23, joins Friends of Europe in November to discuss the ways NATO and the EU can engage civil society organizations across the Middle East and North Africa. An alumnus of the SLP program, Anas is now a member of Friends of Europe, a leading think-tank based in Brussels.

One way Europe can cooperate with its southern neighbors is by communicating with civil society organizations. “In the countries I work in, civil society is the only platform that the young can use,” Anas said at the event. “We are keeping the youth in the dark."

"There should be help to form a dialogue with civil society," Anas added.

After completing the SLP program, formerly known as the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program, Anas became a human rights advisor for the Inti Raymi Fund (IRF), a human rights foundation that oversees about 50 projects worldwide.

Anas credits the SLP program for helping him expand his professional network in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. "MEPI helped me personally to have a family in each country," Anas said. "Professionally, MEPI rewarded me with fellows, most of them are so active in the civil society sector, which is one of things that has made my job way much easier as IRF functions globally."

This MEPI network has helped Anas implement a few IRF projects. "We've implemented and funded 5 projects in the MENA since that time," Anas said.  "Two of them wouldn't happen without using the MEPI network in Lebanon and Tunisia."

During his travels for IRF, Anas has connected with a number of MEPI alumni. "I was also fortunate to meet MEPIs in Qatar, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, France, Netherlands and other countries," Anas said. "Being able to connect with active people in the same social and professional circle is very powerful."

The Student Leaders Program is a U.S. Department of State funded program that helps students from across the MENA region develop their leadership skills and expand their understanding of civic engagement.

To connect with Anas, or read about his latest updates, visit his personal website.

For more information, contact Janelle Rasmussen at

Listen to Anas speak at Friends of Europe's Security Summit: