Tarek Arnaout wants to see a more vulnerable world
– I think that I just failed an exam, says Tarek Arnaout, 19-year-old, who sits down in an armchair at a cafe shop in central Växjö.
– I have no problem telling you that. It is important to be able to talk about failing.
Tarek Arnaout graduates this summer from the Natural Science Program at Katedralskolan in Växjö. But the exam he tells about is at university level. Tarek is involved in Mathivation, an initiative where students are offered training to become supervisors that help other students with mathematics. Mathivation was founded by students at Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University.
– I started as a student when I went to high school and now I study and teach for others. This does not mean I am not troubling with maths, but I dare to simply struggle and fail. That is exactly what Mathivation assumes that math is about, understanding and not giving up.
That setting has meant that we have high school students studying at university level.
Through Mathivation, Tarek Arnaout has helped many students, both nationally and internationally.
– I have held lectures for students in the Philippines through Skype. I will do it again in February. The first lecture I held was at the Royal Institute of Technology. I held it when I was 14 years old, and I was terrified. But it is about daring.
The word “dare” is something Tarek often returns to. When he does not go to school or work with Mathivation, he runs the Covus organization together with Jooya Yousefi, Hampus Selin, Peter Fredriksson, Cindy Andersson, Viktor Klasson and Santa Nita. Covus is a nonprofit organization that, since last summer, has been working to counter mental illness among young people.
– It is also about daring to talk about failures and to be vulnerable.
Tarek tells us that the name Covus stands for courage, vulnerability and strength and it is precisely these qualities that he and his colleagues want to see more of.
– In today's society there is too much focus on independence. Many people do not dare to talk or to show their feelings. And by keeping quiet, young people get mentally ill - which is not okay.
The group behind Covus has a metaphor, about parachute jumping, because there is something that requires the strength and courage of the practitioner. Therefore, they themselves shared their stories on their website. They also tell about them at schools and to businesses.
– I did a parachute jump myself. I did it to prove to myself that I dare to throw myself out there.
Every year, around 1,500 people in Sweden commit suicide. More than 1,000 of them are boys and men. The incidence of suicide has gradually decreased in Sweden, but in recent decades, suicide has increased among young people in the age 15-29.
– A friend of mine committed suicide. It is my duty to him to engage in mental illness.
Due to his work with Mathivation and Covus, Tarek was nominated for citizen of the year in Kronoberg, a prize awarded by P4 Kronoberg.
– I was shocked when I found out that I had been nominated. But, of course, incredibly happy. It is hard to answer why someone would like to nominate me. But I think it is because I do a lot for others.
And that is just what he wants to keep doing. In the future, Tarek wants to work with Covus and Mathivation. He also plans to move to Gothenburg.
– I want to see a more vulnerable world. It is my goal.