Meet the 2024 Doha Debates ambassadors
A cohort of 98 emerging leaders from around the world, including 20 young people studying and working in Qatar, have been selected for the fourth cohort of the Doha Debates Ambassador Program. Cohort members will work with facilitation experts and international guest speakers to develop advanced communication skills, engage in productive dialogue around complex global issues and work collaboratively to envision the future they want for themselves.
Furthering Doha Debates’ mission to empower young people to bridge differences and build consensus through discussion and debate, the 10-week program hones ambassadors’ facilitation and negotiation skills as they tackle critical issues like climate change, global governance and ethical AI, seeking to find common ground with peers who have diverse worldviews.
As preparation for the program, the incoming ambassadors completed Doha Debates’ online self-guided course, “Introduction to the Majlis,” learning to counter polarization with solutions-based dialogue rooted in the Arab tradition of the Majlis, a welcoming meeting ground to openly discuss personal and community issues. This course is free and open to the public on the Participate learning platform (registration required).
Beyond developing productive intercultural communication, ambassadors form lifelong connections with one another and stay engaged with Doha Debates after the program concludes through participation in the organization’s debates, podcasts, town halls and special events. Program alumni most recently took part in Doha Debates’ town hall, Rise of the Rest: Who should lead in a multipolar world?, in December 2023, appearing onstage to ask questions of panelists Jon B. Alterman, Sawsan Chebli and Wadah Khanfar.
The 2024 ambassador program welcomes a select group of students studying at many schools, including American University of Afghanistan in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar, Texas A&M University in Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, Qatar University, University of Doha for Science and Technology, American School of Doha and Hamad Bin Khalifa University. These aspiring leaders make up a cohort that represents 37 countries across five continents, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Palestine, Bangladesh, Uganda and Nigeria.
The Doha Debates’ Ambassador Program is facilitated in partnership with Shared_Studios, a global, purpose-driven startup using innovative technology to build connections and enable collaboration anywhere in the world.
Now in its fourth year, the Doha Debates Ambassador Program has brought together hundreds of students and other young people around the world to learn how to facilitate productive conversations about the world’s most intractable problems. As we welcome the program’s fourth cohort, we asked a few graduates of the program what they’ve been up to. If you’re a former ambassador and would like to be featured by Doha Debates, tell us your news, updates, honors and achievements!
Ayotomiwa Elesho (2021)
Ayotomiwa Elesho won the 2022 Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board national undergraduate essay competition, beating out 2,000 other students from all over Nigeria to clinch the 1 million naira (USD $1,000) grand prize. The 2022 theme was “Nigeria and the drive for global transformation to clean energy,” and Ayotomiwa discussed strategies to enhance Nigeria’s transition to clean energy. Read read the winning essay.
As the founder and executive director of Homeless Not Helpless Nigeria, Ayotomiwa has built awareness of the issue of homelessness in Nigeria. In June 2023, the faculty of the Social Sciences Students’ Association at the University of Ibadan recognized the far-reaching positive impacts he’s had in this role, honoring him as the most outstanding student for his contribution to selfless service.
In August 2023, Ayotomiwa was selected as a Millennium Fellow to participate in a semester-long leadership development program. During his fellowship, he worked on a project to sensitize secondary school-age students to the consequences of substance abuse and addiction.
Natalie Magness (2021)
Natalie Magness founded Qatar Youth Power prior to joining the first Doha Debates ambassador cohort, holding its first conference online in 2021. In September 2023, QYP held its third conference—its second one in person—to develop, connect and empower the youth of Qatar to positively impact their communities. Through her work with QYP, Natalie was selected to represent Qatar as the flag bearer at the 2023 One Young World Summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She also received a scholarship to attend the summit, sponsored by Chanel and designed to amplify underrepresented countries. OYW is a global forum for young leaders to find solutions to build a better world, and Natalie currently serves as a OYW ambassador.
Natalie was also recently selected as a member of Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. The community is a global network of 505 hubs for nearly 11,000 young leaders who are driving local, national and international social change.
Andrews “Andy” Terkpertey (2023)
In 2023, Andy Terkpertey and a friend launched The Shaft Podcast, which tells the stories of Africa’s unknown debate legends and discusses Africa’s debate culture. As of this alumni update, the podcast has garnered nearly 4,000 subscribers. Andy says, “I was able to do this not only due to training and development I got as an ambassador, but also due to guidance and assistance I received from connections at Doha Debates through the ambassadors program that helped me kickstart the podcast.”
Andy also coaches young debaters for the Ghana World Schools debate team with Speech Forces, an organization that helps high schoolers develop their critical thinking skills. He supports other debate organizations as well, such as the first Africa Youth Trade Debate in August 2023.
Former Doha Debates ambassador? Submit your updates to be featured in future alumni updates.