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Egypt eco-community specialist to speak at SDSU

Brookings S.D. (KELQ FM) - Rural development expert and physics professor Salah Arafa will speak at a free public forum entitled "Grassroots Democracy and Green Villages: Tahrir Square to South Dakota" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in room 103 of the South Dakota State University Northern Plains BioStress Lab.Arafa's work in experimental physics, renewable energies, climate change impacts, sustainable community development and eco-communities is internationally recognized.

He is considered one of the leading social entrepreneurs in Egypt and the Arab world. 

As a young professor, Arafa decided to go beyond his science classrooms in Tahrir Square of the American University in Cairo to work in the remote Egyptian village of Basaisa.   Without funding, Arafa worked with residents to improve living conditions. Using an integrated approach to development, he brought training sessions in agriculture, efficient use of natural resources, literacy, group collaboration, creative thinking and community building to the village.

Today, Basaisa has been transformed from a marginalized village to an eco-friendly community.   "Sustainable community development solutions can't be pursued as a sectarian initiative," Arafa said. "Public education, democracy, community innovations and appropriate renewable energy technologies in small villages, like those on South Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation or scattered desert communities in Egypt, can form part of the solution to concerns about fossil fuel use and global warming."  

Arafa has 40 years of experience with Grassroots Green Village development in Egypt and two years of experience with Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on Pine Ridge. He has been an active observer in Tahrir Square student- and youth-led democracy demonstrations.   The American University in Cairo was founded in 1919 by Americans to provide education and community service in the Middle East. It is the region's premier English-language university.  

For more information on the South Dakota World Affairs Council, contact Jeanne Jones Manzer, executive director, at 605-688-5416 or sdworldaffairs@gmail.com. Information is also available on theorganization's websiteFacebook page, or via Twitter.