Published on Arab Voices

Touching upon the truth during the spring meetings

Samar Samir Mezghanni is a Tunisian Writer classified as one of the most important young leaders in the Arab region. She has written over a hundred short stories and published 14 books.

ImageWhen I first received an invitation for the International Monetary Fund and World BankSpring Meetings, my friends said I shouldn’t open the e-mail because it was probably a spam. My family said I should check the source of the invitation and investigate the reason behind it before accepting. My tutors said this was weird.

It seemed like everyone was skeptical about the fact that these international financial institutions could be genuinely inviting young people to this important event.

With a lot of curiosity, I traveled to Washington D.C. hoping to reconcile the puzzling ideas in my head about this meeting and these institutions. And as I gazed through the plane’s window into the vast lands of America, I threw some of these preconceived notions in the rivers.

Yet, I couldn’t resist asking the organizers on the first day about the reasons and processes behind my selection and participation in this event. The answer was simple: You were nominated through our network of institutions and organizations, to participate in the civil society program, aiming to bring young leaders into the Spring Meetings activities to discuss global development issues and Bank and Fund programs with their staff.

For a while, I thought we would be meeting some of the staff working in specific departments of these institutions. I thought we would probably meet a few people who would lecture us in specific topics and thank us for accepting the invitation. And at the end, we would thank them for inviting us and go back home. Isn’t it the same protocol we got used to?

I did not expect instead, that I would be given the opportunity to meet the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and its executive directors, the Vice presidents of the World Bank and many of the staff working in both institutions and coming from all corners of the world, and challenge them with questions, demands and critiques.

That diversity of countries, positions, ideas highlighted to me a more complex diversity of opinions within the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; where people are not only looking at their work with a critical eye, but are also asking civil society organizations and youth leaders to give them feedback, to suggest solutions and to cooperate for a better communication and a deeper insight into the needs of the people, especially in our Arab region, where recently people started to matter!

Throughout my journey to this event, the search for simplicity in the complications of everything surrounding the country, the institutions, the event, the agenda was my main concern and personal purpose: the simple furniture of complicated buildings, the simple interactions in a complicated environment, the simple mission in a complicated way, the simple data in a complicated language, and the simple people in complicated titles.

But even with all those complications, I was able to touch upon the truth that is usually hiding behind them. A serious attempt to hear the voice of Civil Society, to reach the people and to integrate youth ideas into the programs of these institutions is being undertaken, challenged by our perceptions of the international community.

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