Wasim Abu Salem, 26, joined the One Young World Summit in February to speak about the limits of traditional education. Wasim participated in the Student Leaders Program, formerly known as the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), at Montana State University in 2015.

"Our task as young leaders is to offer modern education to children so they can face the unknown future," Wasim said at the Summit. 

In December 2015, Wasim founded Loop, the first and only social initiative in Israel giving every child, aged 7-16, the opportunity to learn how to code and learn computer science. "Loop incubators aims to guide children to build their own startups at early age," Wasim said.

In November 2017, Loop has reached a total of 5,500 students in Israel, and the initiative was presented on multiple international platforms, including the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 and AMENDS  at Stanford. 

Earlier that year, Wasim participated in workshops exploring leadership and civic engagement as part of the Student Leaders Program at Montana State University. At the time, his vision was "peacebuilding through modern technology," according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Loop is a project that edges Wasim closer to that vision.

In crafting his initiative, Wasim said he found support in the Student Leaders Program. "MEPI supported me since the beginning of the process," Wasim said. "I found help and guidance from several mentors."

The Student Leaders Program has also introduced Wasim to a network of professionals. "I met other leaders from different countries that helped me to develop my idea in the last 2 years and better share my vision with others," Wasim said.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Student Leaders Program is a rigorous exchange program for up to 60 undergraduate and graduate students from the Middle East and North Africa. Students are divided among U.S. academic institutions, including Montana State University, where they develop leadership skills and expand their understanding of civil society and participatory governance and how both may be applied in their home communities.

Stay updated with Wasim and Loop:

For more information, please contact Janelle Rasmussen at jrasmussen@montana.edu.