Establishing a Pioneering Wellness Network in Lebanon

The culture of wellness has emerged in recent years as a novel concept that is rooted in the discoveries in health sciences and research showing that human well-being is more holistic and interconnected than previously assumed. While this concept is new in Western societies, our traditions and heritage in the East (and in collectivist societies in general) has innately understood the importance of living a well-rounded life that is based on social responsibility, close-knit communities, spiritual purity, mental fortitude, and physical strength. By fully endorsing these concepts, and with a sense of public service that is at the heart of its mission, the Modern University for Business & Science (MUBS) established the National Wellness Network (NWN) as a platform to promote wellness and preventive healthcare.

The Network works with specialized multi-disciplinary teams to coordinate awareness campaigns, collect data, explore new avenues of assistance, and offer customized healthcare solutions to Lebanese communities throughout the country. By being an extension of the University, and a manifestation of its mission of social service and responsibility, NWN offers optimal access to healthcare facilities and leading experts with vast knowledge. The Network works closely with community leaders, non-governmental organizations, and the public sector, striving to bridge the gap between research and practice. NWN offers a platform for its students, faculty, and partners to work in the field with the public, mostly in under-served areas, to improve their livelihood, well-being, and their health.

By introducing new lifestyle concepts in the everyday lives of Lebanese citizens of all ages, NWN stands out as a unique model in the Middle East region, where higher education institutions are more focused on in-class learning, and tend to dissociate themselves from the surrounding community and its needs. In contrast, NWN and MUBS are built with the needs of the community at their core and with an eye on serving the students, their parents, and their communities.

The Network strives to promote the Eight Dimensions of Wellness: Intellectual, Medical, Nutritional, Physical, Environmental, Spiritual, Psychological, and Social Wellbeing. These eight dimensions are at the core of the Network’s management spirit to promote and develop wellness programs, and to incorporate them into everyday life as sustainable habits and way of living that integrates a culture of health and fitness to educate, motivate, and empower the community to adopt a healthier lifestyle to fulfill academic, occupational, and personal goals.

As an ambassador institution of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), NWN is building a multinational network of organizations with a shared vision and a common goal to empower citizens and help them achieve a more fulfilling life. Towards that end, NWN has been joined by over 35 organizations in Lebanon and boasts a board of directors that includes community leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, and public figures to guide its work and the accomplishment of its mission.

NWN also offers onsite services that are accessible by the public, free of charge or for symbolic fees. These services are located in MUBS campuses, and include:

  • Physical Therapy Centers
  • Sports and Fitness Centers
  • Education and Awareness Centers
  • Social Work Center & Seniors Lounge
  • Wellness & Ecotourism Center
  • Clinics
    • Nutrition and Dietetics Clinics
    • Optometry Clinics
    • Specialized Medical Clinics

Happiness: Creating, Fostering & Spreading the Cheer

We live in a time of unprecedented stress. We are bombarded by stressors every minute of every day of our lives, be that on the professional or the personal level. As we celebrate the International Day of Happiness, the question of maintaining a sense of balance and content becomes vital for our emotional and physical well-being.
The fact that the United Nations had to dedicate an international day to celebrate an emotion that should be the essence of our existence is a clear sign of the times. That did not go unnoticed by governments around the world, with some going as far as forming cabinets centered around creating happiness, and dedicating ministries to spreading and maximizing happiness in society (a prominent example is the UAE).
Moreover, an emerging field of research is thriving as scientists investigate factors that create happiness. Early signs and data are reassuring. Happiness seems to stem from within, albeit a conscious effort should be made under certain circumstances to attain it. The research reports that wealth and happiness are not directly correlated. Additionally, happiness and positive thinking are not dictated by nature or nurture alone, meaning that, while our genes and our upbringing play a role in setting our perspective in life, conscious effort is critical for determining our happiness levels.
One interesting finding, for example, is the role empathy plays in generating happiness. Apparently, by sharing feelings of others, we become more fulfilled individuals. A healthier and happier community, therefore, is a more empathetic and humane community.

The Power of Empathy: Creating Better Leaders & Educators

Dr. Bob Sornson, the acclaimed leader in education, asserts that: “Empathy is the heart of a great classroom culture.”

Indeed, recent studies show that the most successful classrooms are those designed around the needs of students, and that the most effective teachers are those that start their journey by asking the question: “what do my students need?” In the digital age, customization has become easier than ever as technology allows us to customize lessons to the abilities of individual learners.

Empathy leads to trust, positive relationships and understanding. The power of empathy extends beyond the classroom and benefits the community as a whole. In a globalized world and in heterogeneous communities formed by a mosaic of cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, empathy is essential to forming positive relationships built on trust and understanding.

What we know about empathy includes a very important fact: it gives birth to great leaders, whose understanding of the needs, aspirations, and circumstances of those who follow them is essential. This is how leaders make their team members feel valued and appreciated. This validation, and the ability to understand and share the feelings of others is at the heart of great communities and organizations.

New Roles for Technology in Education and Learning

In a recent lecture presented at Stanford University in the United States, leading researcher in the field of education, Professor Candace Thille discussed the latest findings in learning research and the use of technology in higher education.

The classical answers are:

  1. Increased access and convenience (the MOOCS argument)
  2. Simulation (learning from online/digital resources and models)
  3. Connection and crowd-sourcing (connectivity, internet, and interaction)

While these are indeed important advantages to technological advancements, the new approach in learning goes further to offer educators and learners additional and critical new breakthroughs in their educational journey.

Learning from leading Silicon Valley firms whose business models depends on large data and customer behavior, educational institutions of the future will utilize technology to learn about the learners. The interface would allow instructors and institutions to observe, collect data, and understand the needs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses of the student, allowing us to serve him/her better.

Collecting student interaction data in such a set up will drive powerful feedback loops to multiple actors in the teaching and learning system. Such loops would inform the learner, the teacher, the designers of the technology, and the researchers of science of learning.

As an educational institution that is founded on science and that prides itself in bringing research to practice,  is involved in studies and projects that develop such platforms and interfaces. We would be happy to answer your questions in this regard.

To watch the full video, refer to this link.

A New Era of Innovation & Creativity: Design Thinking & Growth Mindset

Inspired by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s plans to “make the UAE among the best countries in the world” by the year 2021 (Golden Jubilee of the Union; UAE Vision2021), MECAT announces its programs in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset, targeting the region’s educational institutions.

Vision 2021 places innovation, research, science and technology as the cornerstones of a knowledge-based, highly productive and competitive economy, driven by entrepreneurs in a healthy environment where public and private sectors form effective partnerships. In a similar vein, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced its own version of this plan, dubbed Vision 2030, aiming at creating a modern economy that is less dependent on oil production. For decades, the Arab World has struggled to find a strategy that invigorates and stimulates creativity among its youth, an asset that is largely untapped or under-rated. The balance between rigid discipline and creativity has always been tilted towards the former, stifling originality and critical thinking among our youth. As the UAE leads the way in finding a new path towards modernization, our hope is that MECAT will be a pioneering institution in this venture. As a multi-national, multi-disciplinary, and science-rooted organization, MECAT is well positioned in this effort.

Design Thinking
Design Thinking introduces an innovative way of approaching challenges that we face on a daily basis, in schools, in the workplace and in our personal lives. It is a human-centric, interdisciplinary approach that surpasses traditional mindsets, employing visual, creative, and empathetic thinking to find new solutions to problems. Design Thinking questions old assumptions and what we think we already know. It disrupts the status quo in all disciplines, from education, health care, government, business management, engineering, media, tech industry, or services.

In other words, Design Thinking is synonymous with innovation; it offers a pathway towards innovating and discarding preconceptions, tired and tried ideas.

Growth Mindset
Mindsets are beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our abilities and natural components like personality or intelligence. Some people hold a fixed mindset while others hold a growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes that qualities of human character are innate and cannot be changed. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, think of human characters as malleable and adaptable. Neuroscientific evidence has revealed significant differences in the brains of people with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. Our training in this field leads to improvements in academic, social, and professional achievement, and results in increased resilience and motivation.

Our Role
MECAT is the only training center that offers workshops in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset in the Middle East. We aim to introduce these two concepts into the lives of our youth in order to harness their creative abilities, and improve their resilience and motivation. Introducing these two processes into our professional lives also leads to demonstrable increase in creative thinking and productivity.

Our experts and trainers are educators who are keen on changing the world. As the region embarks on a new age of fostering innovation and creative thinking, MECAT training and workshops will be at the forefront of education and innovation in the region.

For further details on our workshops and training, contact us via e-mail: info@mecat.net or by phone: +971 4 458 1326. You can always find us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube): @MecatAcademy or visit our website: http://www.mecat.net