We arrived in Kortrijk, Belgium, where the weather was cool and refreshing. Dr Amar Behbahani, Soroptimist Club Kuwait Past President; Kinda Al Faris, SI Kuwait member; and I checked into our hotel, excited and thrilled to be members of this great organisation.


Left to right: Kinda Al Faris, Mae Al Hajjaj, Dr Amar Behbahani from SI Kuwait


That evening, as we strolled through the small, friendly city, we came across members from all over Europe. It was as if we were drawn together by our belief in our mission to stand up for women.


Bright and early the next morning, we made our way on foot to the Howest University campus to take part in Soroptimist International of Europe’s (SIE) first Growth Academy. Upon entering the Penta building, we were warmly greeted by SIE’s team from headquarters and registered for the event. We made our way down the stairs only to be greeted by even more members from SIE.


The Growth Academy officially opened with a welcome speech by SIE President, Carolien Demey. She stated that this is the first time SIE hosts a leadership academy for SIE members. With over 70 attendees from Unions and Clubs in Europe, the Academy was divided into workshops hosted by professionals in their fields.


The objective of the Growth Academy was to develop the skills of Soroptimists through high-level workshops. As well as practical workshops on project management, social media skills and the power of communication, we focused on key goals, such as how to:


  • Increase the number of Soroptimists members,
  • Build strategies in a frantic world,
  • Change mindsets and resolve conflicts.


“The two-day academy was a light of shining knowledge.”


It was an excellent opportunity for SIE members to learn from each other, exchange business cards and get to know each other in a professional and friendly way. We learned how other Unions and Clubs work, about the projects they are running, and how to give a great elevator pitch. We were also invited to take part in being individually filmed in a professional studio for an SIE project. All were great experiences and mean that we are returning home with many new tools and friends.


I am already looking forward to the next Growth Academy.


Mae Al Hajjaj, President SI Kuwait


Mae Al Hajjaj, President SI Kuwait



Click below to see our official SIE pictures of the event and spot yourself and those you know getting swept up in the energy of our first ever Growth Academy.


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