Manel Bargaoui (Legacy International Professional Fellows Program Spring 2017) is an author, teacher, mobile app manager, and pioneer advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing in Tunisia. Following her fellowship with the National Association of the Deaf in Silver Spring, Maryland, an organization that promotes the rights of deaf people in the United States, Manel taught English with Tunisian Sign Language. Her participation in the PFP inspired her to author Let’s Handspeak English, an English-student book designed for the deaf and hard of hearing community in her home country. Beyond her teaching and authorship, Manel is the creator of the LET’S (Learning English Through Signs) mobile application. In addition, she is the head organizer of the Let’s Handspeak Weekend Studies, which brings together deaf and hearing communities to learn entrepreneurship and leadership skills together.
Not only does Manel work on improving the educational system for deaf people, she is an international advocate for their rights as well. Her project in Tunisia was selected among the 24 best initiatives in an international competition organized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and she recently presented at the United Nations in Geneva as a Tunisian Human Rights Ambassador. She is also an advocate through public speaking, having hosted both a TEDx and AMENDS Talk in 2018. Manel is also a member of the Tunisian Fulbright Society.
Manel’s talents were evident in her performance during the Professional Fellows Program from day one. She displayed strong leadership abilities, logical thinking abilities, and the ability to work well with other fellows. What is particularly notable about Manel is that she is able to see the core of her community needs and take a big, abstract idea “to support the deaf community in Tunisia” and develop and implement a practical, compelling, and realistic approach towards achieving this goal, considering risks and numerous obstacles she might face during her project implementation in Tunisia.
In many ways, Manel is an ideal model of how professional development and community impact can be accelerated by participation in the Professional Fellows Program. Congratulations Manel! We have no doubt that she will continue to strive and succeed in empowering deaf not only in Tunisia but entire MENA region.
The Professional Fellows Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by Legacy International.