This summer, we were again lucky to host volunteers from the DukeEngage program in North Carolina. Ten enthusiastic, reliable and devoted volunteers joined our own local volunteers and together they implemented Bridge’s first component, the University Preparatory Course (UPC). UPC works with the top 150 Palestinian students enrolled in UNRWA secondary schools in Lebanon. These students, in the summer before 11th grade, engage in SAT prep and receive college and career guidance as part of UPC. We were pleased that some of the volunteers were of Middle Eastern roots. Hopefully, their volunteering experience helped them better understand their identities and more importantly, the untold stories of Middle Eastern aspiration and potential. On our behalf, we can assure that their counseling efforts left a memorable impact on the UPC students.
As a result of the long-term collaboration between ULYP and DukeEngage, a former UPC student, Nour Kanaan, will be joining Duke University this fall. We are incredibly thankful to the previous DukeEngagers, and specifically Jake McCarthy, who guided her during the application process. We are proud of this lasting partnership and look forward to collaborating with future cohorts!
Noura is a participant in our Bridge Program and has recently passed her Foundation year at the University of Malta with flying colors. In her own words:
“For 18 years, I have been living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon called “Ein AlHelweh”. This camp -with all its flaws- empowered me to see what is beyond the walls surrounding it and to break barriers between countries to finally settle in Europe as I have fortunately gotten a scholarship to study at the University of Malta. Honestly, I have always wanted to leave Lebanon since refugees’ future there is uncertain and depends on the political climate in the region with all its turmoil and danger; however, I always had in mind the idea of coming back and contributing for change. For that, I chose to study Social Work abroad since this field of studies gets you closer to marginalized groups and since I am [in] one of these groups, I may be able to offer more help.Europe has offered me diversity, openness, knowledge, and freedom. Personally, this benefited me because I met many nice, hardworking, knowledgeable, and open-minded people and academically, it gave me the power to explore and learn by myself. The hardships always pushed me forward, never backwards because I believe that education, especially for refugees, is the first and last resort in contributing to the prosperity of a country and one’s success.”
Noura has already made noticeable change. Director Stefania Agius Fabri of the International Office at the University of Malta stated, “Apart from her excellent academic record Noura has really distinguished herself for her participation, her insight, her thirst to learn and willingness to contribute. She has in fact engaged in a volunteering experience in Malta for part of the summer. We look forward to having Noura joining the Degree programme in October and am very thankful that we have been blessed with an excellent student who is truly deserving of this scholarship.”
At ULYP, TLC also stands for Together Lets Code, a program it had developed four years ago to offer young females the opportunity to believe in themselves and their technology skills. This year, and in partnership with Theirworld, TLC continued to be successful in its mission and taught 150 girls ages 10 – 15 from marginalized Lebanese communities along with their peers from Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities. Divided into three code clubs, each cohort learned how to code, working on Minecraft, Scratch and computing algorithms. These coding clubs also include ULYP’s sessions on life skills, swimming, cooking and other activities that are contributing to not only enriching their education, but also giving them an opportunity to explore new passions and make new friendships.
Just like the title of this article, ULYP’s LIFE program spread the joy of learning which was made possible by Taawon/Lebanon. LIFE targets 7th and 8th grade students who are at-risk of dropping out of their UNRWA school, Haifa. LIFE works closely with the school to support the children’s education and offer intensive English and life skills both at the school and on the ULYP campus. Through the focus on life skills, students improved their behavior and attitude towards learning, increasing their confidence as well as their likelihood for staying in school. Parent meetings reinforced these gains as parents were engaged as partners in the educational journey of their children. The program concluded in June with a field trip to Arnaoun Village in North Lebanon where the children engaged in outdoor activities, confidence & team-building, and recreational activities while exploring a new place.
Life Success Story: Malak
When Malak began the LIFE program, she was shy and struggled to pronounce words correctly and properly, relying on others to communicate for her. She had a hard time focusing and listening in class, often getting distracted by friends and classmates speaking to her in Arabic or bursting into nervous fits of laughter when asked to answer a question.
As LIFE progressed, Malak began to demonstrate improved selfesteem and confidence in the classroom. Games building on teamwork in both English class and expert sessions allowed Malak to share her individual talents and contribute to her group, boosting her confidence while allowing her to feel supported by her peers. During a discussion on how to behave in the classroom, Malak expressed her new understanding of the importance of listening and respect in the classroom. After this discussion, Malak began to embody some of the qualities essential to being a focused and successful student. Through learning to listen, focus and ask for help when needed, Malak was able to use her energy in order to better structure her learning and build foundations for future success.
The spring and summer of 2019 were busy for SHARE! We are working with 80 middle school children residing in and around the refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut. Students attend weekly sessions of English in the new center for Social Support Society in Shatila and enjoy full days of English, sports, arts and drama sessions on ULYP’s beautiful campus. As the summer comes to an end, we want to say good luck to our oldest SHARE students and welcome a new young group to this wonderful environment of spreading hope and reviving education.
The SHARE program, supported by the Beit Jiddi Foundation, grew this year to include HAPPY as a way to build the foundations of preschoolers who may become future SHARE students. Next year SHARE will celebrate its fifth year of changing lives!
Another component of the same fund, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund is supporting undergraduate and specialized diplomas. More than 150 students are benefiting from this program and are pursuing their degrees and diplomas in five universities in Lebanon and abroad. Of these, six students concluded their oneyear programs and graduated: five with teaching diplomas and one from the Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Program. Our graduates are now equipped with new sets of skills that correlate directly with employability.
Farah not only graduated with a teaching diploma but also received the Award of Excellence in Practice Teaching during her practicum. Prior to receiving this opportunity to obtain a Teaching Diploma, Farah had graduated from university with a BS in Mathematics, yet could not secure a job. Through this fund, she is now able to pursue teaching positions and in fact is sought after in the job market.
Our students are hard at work in the Change program developing their English skills and expanding their horizons through discussions on topics that range from modern art to life skills to respect. This summer has been lively, and we have seen great improvement and growth overall in both English performance and confidence – skills that will enable them to become positive change makers in their communities.
This summer, Change students engaged in a unit surrounding the book Who Moved My Cheese, a motivational short story about the consequences of not being able to adapt to life’s changes. Students used the book’s themes to reflect on their own life situations and how they can better adapt to changes occurring around them. As one student said during a class discussion, “Change is the only constant in life.” We are excited about how adept and eager our youth are and remain proud of their commitment to improving their own lives and thus, the lives of those around them.
Change is a component of the program ULYP is implementing in partnership with the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund targeting the secondary age students. Change will continue for one more year and graduate its 300 participants in August 2020.
To start off 2019, we are delighted to announce that we will be continuing our work with the Asfari Foundation, who have agreed to support capacity building at ULYP. Most of our funding is directed towards our external projects, so it is wonderful to have the opportunity to build the organization from within and improve the way we deliver our services. This project will improve the ULYP services in five areas. First, ULYP is excited to announce that a new space is being developed at our office that will serve as a training and teaching venue for future activities. This will save on rental costs and make us a more independent training provider. Also, a student management system is being created that will allow ULYP to store, monitor and evaluate student data more efficiently. Third, an online BRIDGE application system will be introduced. Both of these online systems will save students and ULYP staff time and effort, and increase efficiency. The fourth component of the Asfari Foundation grant will cover the cost of hiring a Monitoring & Evaluation specialist to consult with ULYP on a part time basis, over three years. This will help ULYP measure, analyze and evaluate the efficacy of our programs and continue to improve our services going forward. Finally, this fund will support some of the needs of the Change alumni as they pursue their undergraduate degrees. This support is vital in ensuring that marginalized students are not discouraged from continuing their university studies by the cost of living, and can achieve their dream of graduation. Overall, the Asfari Foundation partnership will be vital in ensuring that we continue to grow as an organization and improve the way we support our beneficiaries.
“I thought it would be very hard, but quickly realized that coding and programming are so simple, especially with all the help and support that I was lucky to have. It helps us in any field we wish to pursue” Malak H., 15 years
“I didn’t expect it to be that interesting for me!” Nour I., 13 years
ULYP is pleased to announce that the partnership with TheirWorld is back for the third year in a row. In 2015, when ULYP piloted its first ever coding program to females only, the project document started as follows: To code or not to code is not a question to ask. The future is coding and the future starts now. “Coding is a new literacy, and it gives people the potential to create, innovate and quite literally change the world.” (Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube and early Google employee). Since then, ULYP has implemented the program supported by different donors, scaling it up to be more effective and impactful. As of 2017, when ULYP partnered with TheirWorld for the first time, the program morphed into the TLC Code Clubs and now follows the curriculum developed by TheirWorld. The implemented joint program continues to validate that coding is not only a much-needed technological skill; it is also a tool used to foster creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication and other personal attributes that are all byproducts of the TLC Code Clubs. The participants in the TLC Code Clubs 2019 are 150-156 females, aged 10-15, from underprivileged and refugee communities living in Lebanon. Stay tuned!
In September, CHANGE welcomed its students to our campus for the last time! This brilliant project was a perfect example of how our work supports the ambitions of young people living in Lebanon.
Since the beginning of 2018, CHANGE has been working with 75 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, from Syria and Lebanon, in Grade 12, to unlock their potential and increase their chances of pursuing higher education. Over the course of two semesters the CHANGE students engaged in intensive English courses and soft skills training. They were also offered college guidance counseling and assistance with their university applications. We are proud of the achievements of the CHANGE students and confident that they will leverage their newly developed skills for their success in the future.
CHANGE is in partnership with The Asfari Foundation.