DEARBORN – The Arab American National Museum – an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. – has recruited two area high school students to join the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council.
Malak Wazne, a senior at Dearborn High School, and Fatima Abu-Omarah, a junior at Fordson High School, will lend their advice to Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton as members of the council.
Wazne and Abu-Omarah are among 25 high school juniors and seniors nationally who will advise Skorton during a quarterly meeting on topics such as technology in museums, how museums could address societal conflicts and be catalysts for dialogue, and how the Smithsonian might accomplish its goal of reaching 1 billion visitors.
“I’m very pleased to expand the opportunity to include teens nationally through our Smithsonian Affiliations program,” Skorton said. “I look forward to connecting with our teens and gaining a wide variety of perspectives.”
Skorton established the Youth Advisory Council in 2016 to gain advice and insight on youth perception of the Smithsonian from students in Washington. The second group expands on the original work and include students from the Smithsonian Affiliate network, providing a national perspective to the conversation by attending virtually. The Smithsonian held the first meeting of the 2017 council at the Smithsonian Castle in Washington Sept. 27.
“AANM is honored to help bring the thoughts and perspectives of young Arab Americans to the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council,” AANM Director Devon Akmon said. “AANM, and our colleagues at ACCESS, are committed to building leadership skills among young Arab Americans. We hope initiatives like this will inspire young people to become more civically engaged and to consider exploring careers in the museum field.”
The 2017-18 council includes 15 teens from the metropolitan Washington area. Ten teens recruited directly from five Smithsonian Affiliates will provide a national perspective; the affiliates are the AANM; the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum in Cincinnati; the Rockwell Museum in Corning, N.Y.; and the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, S.C.
“Taking the Smithsonian beyond the National Mall is critical to our mission,” said Myriam Springuel, interim director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “The five affiliate partners in the council’s second cohort are incredibly strong advocates for their own local youth programs.”