The World Bank, Fulbright Program, and the World Blind Union are a few opportunities that has Mohammed Ali Loutfy moving across the world map. There could be no better fit for someone fascinated about international studies, different cultures, and learning about disability inclusion across the world.
Mohammed, who is blind, attended law school in his home country of Lebanon before arriving to the United States for a professional experience. He was offered a position at the World Bank in Washington, DC and thrived surrounded by such diversity and access for people with disabilities. His experience at the World Bank drove him to find further opportunities to enhance his personal and professional growth.
When Mohammed returned to Beirut, he applied and was accepted for a Fulbright scholarship, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, to pursue his Master’s studies at the American University in Washington, DC. Mohammed was not new to international travel and has traveled to places like Dubai, France, India, Pakistan, Senegal and Spain, but his experience in Washington, DC remains one of his most enriching.
“I never imagined that I would experience such access to so many books, journals, and articles so easily.”
In addition to having access to these materials, it was refreshing and energizing for Mohammed to be in classrooms that encouraged open and straight forward discussions with professors. He learned many things during his studies at American University, but two personal points stood out for him. The first was how to take advantage of opportunities.
Mohammed learned how to break barriers that he had within himself in order to apply for his Fulbright program. He assumed as many do, that programs are limited for people with disabilities. Now he knows that the opportunities are limitless and he can focus now on all of the possibilities rather than the barriers. The second skill Mohammed developed was taking advantage of the resources all around him.
“It is an amazing experience to be at an institution that provides support for students to make life as easy as possible, so they can focus on their academic success.”
Mohammed utilized the support of the international office, disability services office, assistive technology lab, and students groups just to name a few.
Mohammed put aside any challenges about being in a new country and instead enjoyed working side by side with people from so many different backgrounds. As a person who enjoys interacting with people, it was the perfect setting for Mohammed to express himself openly and to not limit himself and his abilities.
“Studying in the United States is an opportunity in itself for the academic value, but also having access to the campus and the community is another opportunity for someone who has never experienced such a level of access.”
After completing his Fulbright program, Mohammed returned to Lebanon. He subsequently applied for a doctoral program at American University. He was accepted and once he completes Mohammed looks forward to joining a university or disability organization to promote disability inclusion and using his research to increase access and opportunities for people with disabilities.
Mohammed’s Motto: “Take the step, be brave, and don’t shy away. Go online and learn about the opportunities to study abroad.”