Volunteer Spotlight – Leoni Umlauft

Through my time as an intern at ULYP, I had the opportunity to experience a lot of different facets of the Lebanese society, learn first-hand about NGO operations, discover the country itself and meet inspiring and motivational students.

I spent most of my time engaged with the Rainbow Beirut program, where I developed special relationships with the students through teaching and assisting in class. Rainbow taught me various invaluable lessons, but one that stood out was learning specific educational coping mechanisms when working with children who suffer from trauma. Through creative activities such as painting and engaging the students in interactive and participatory English classes tailored to individual needs, I saw firsthand how a supportive learning environment can mitigate students’ potential issues related to trauma.

My other responsibilities included working at ULYP’s office, where I have supported the organization and coordination of different programs. Through the variety of work I have been involved in during my time here, I gained an invaluable and personal understanding of the intricacies of NGO work. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I have been given here at ULYP.

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Ta’atheer Award – Best NGO

At ULYP, we are delighted and honored to have received the Ta’atheer 2017 Award for Best NGO at the Ta’atheer CSR conference in Dubai, May 2017.

The category of the best NGO rewarded the best non-governmental and non-profit organizations that showcase examples of best practices and successful program delivery.

The judges expressed that ULYP stood out for three main points: 1) its work with ALL underprivileged groups without any discrimination, 2) its model of leveraging education for social change and working with different age groups and stakeholders, and 3) putting into practice ULYP’s slogan “diversity is a reason to celebrate not a cause to discriminate”.

This is an amazing honor and we would like to congratulate our dear ULYP family, friends and supporters for this recognition!

Student Spotlight – Israa Nemer, SHARE

Israa Nemer, age 12, started the SHARE program in the summer 2017 module. At the beginning of the program, Israa was a shy and restrained student. Her low level in English compared to her peers stopped her from actively participating in the class. A combination of the teaching team customizing their educational support for Israa, extracurricular sessions, and Israa’s hard work and determination helped her to reach a new level of confidence and break out of her shell. Israa was continuously encouraged by her teacher, and at the end of the module, she received a “Highest Improvement” certificate for her significant progress.

Student Spotlight – Hanan Madjool, RAINBOW Beirut, Age 10.

Only a few weeks into the RAINBOW Beirut program, Hanan’s mother explained to the teachers how happy Hanan and her brother were now that they are enrolled in RAINBOW. “They used to spend their mornings at home with nothing to do until school starts at 14:00. Now, they wake up excited every morning and on weekends can hardly wait for their next session of RAINBOW.” Six weeks into the program her mother came by again to share the news that Hanan’s grades in English have been rising with every test and quiz she takes; so much so, in fact, that her English teacher at school asked her, “Hanan, who is teaching you English, why is your level improving so drastically?” Hanan’s mother expressed how thankful she is that her children now have the opportunity to learn and catch up with their education, making up for time lost leaving Syria.

Bridge Alumni Give Back: Physiotherapy Graduates Introduce New Burj Al Barajneh Clinic

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” – Tia Walker

 Three students who graduated with a B.S. in Physiotherapy from the Beirut Arab University in 2016, after having received a university scholarship from the Bridge Program, just began providing physical therapy to the elderly in a new clinic in Burj Al Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut.

Inaugurated on April 13, 2017 by Mrs Melek El Nimer, the ‘ProPhysio Clinic’ will serve the elderly in the Burj Al Barajneh camp. The clinic’s opening was attended by members of the local community and organizations, and included an introductory presentation by Amira Dabbagh, Sahar Snounou, and Sherine Hussein, all 3 ULYP graduates. The presentation was followed by a tour to introduce the newly established facility and a lunch hosted by Social Support Society’s Active Ageing House in the camp.

From left to right: Mrs Laila Orabi, Sahar Snounou, Mrs Melek El Nimer, Amira Dabbagh, Shirine Hussein and Sahar Sarhan.

Amira Dabbagh, BS Physical Therapy BAU 2016, introducing the clinic and its services.

Joining Forces: ACS and ACT Students Team Up to Tackle the Alphabet

“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.” Mikhael Gorbachev

Every year the American Community School at Beirut (ACS) Middle School undertakes their ‘week without walls’ program whereby students complete a week of community service aimed at breaking down the physical and non-physical barriers within Lebanese society. In the past, ACS students have participated in a variety of activities on ULYP’s campus such as painting walls. However, this year they got involved in ULYP’s ACT (Action for Children of Today) program and helped 65 ACT students with an English session.

The activity matched 1 ACS student with 1 ACT student to work together to produce a set of alphabet flashcards. The students went around campus in their pairs, finding things that begin with each letter. By the end of the session, every ACT student had a complete set of flashcards with a ring binder holding them together from A through Z. The activity ended with the students making a friendship bracelet for one another.

It was a great day of activities, in which real friendships were formed, English was learnt and barriers were broken down. A big thank you to ACS and each and every student and teacher there!

Volunteer Spotlight

In this section, we direct the spotlight on three of our amazing ULYP volunteers to whom we remain forever grateful. All three shared their time and expertise to help us achieve our mission. Read along to see what the volunteers had to say about their time with ULYP.

Kevin Hack

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Volunteered with ULYP from June to August 2016

“The students I met in Bridge, whether in high school, university, or the post-graduate world, allowed me to see first-hand why ULYP’s mission statement is both important and powerful. Educational deficits to even the most qualified students leave them uninformed about why higher education is important and how to access it, especially given the restrictions faced by Palestinians in Lebanon.”

“When I told a close friend of mine what I was doing for the summer, he told me ‘there is no way that you won’t come away from this a better, more aware, more amazing version of yourself.’ Now that my time at ULYP has come to an end, there is no way I couldn’t thank all of ULYP’s magnificent staff and volunteers, and the truly meaningful labor they continue to do. It is only because of them that I can say that my friend might have been right.”

Caspar Rogers

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Volunteered with ULYP from July-August 2016

“Through working with ULYP for two months alongside my twin brother, I have personally seen the everyday change that charities bring and the incredible work they do, whether it is teaching English to  Palestinian pre-school children or travelling to the Bekaa to help teenage Syrian refugees with essential life-skills, such as public speaking and drama, as part of the cultural exchange program known as Frame by Frame.”

“On the whole, the children [in the HAPPY program] were very shy initially at the sight of us two foreigners. But as each day passed, we grew very close not just to the boisterous boys, but even to the shyest of the girls. As we waved goodbye to these children for the last time, it was a very sad experience because as one teacher said, ‘to many of them, you are like their older brothers.’ Many of the children lacked male role models, and we felt that we helped fill that void in the limited time we spent with them.”

Anna Assentoft

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Volunteered with ULYP from February 2016-July 2016

“Inspiring and enjoyable. These are the two words that come to mind when I think back on my six-month internship with ULYP. Inspiring because the amazing beneficiaries I met in the various programs maintain a high level of positivity and hope despite living a difficult life riddled with uncertainty. Enjoyable because of the great ULYP-staff that made me excited to come to work every single day. The wonderful ULYP-staff and the beneficiaries that I met made my internship an unforgettable experience where I was able to grow both on a personal and professional level. Thank you to all!”

Student Spotlight: Meet Wassim Bashir

In 2014, Wassim was awarded a very prestigious merit based scholarship to complete his last two years of High School at Eton College – one of the top boarding schools in the world. The day Wassim boarded the plane to London his life changed forever. Despite having come from an entirely unique background to his peers, Wassim quickly picked up his pace and adjusted within just a few weeks. Schoolwork was quite challenging at first, but, as Wassim says, it takes time getting used to the pace and learning time management techniques.

Upon graduating from Eton, Wassim applied to some of the top universities in the UK, including Imperial, UCL, Bristol, and Queen Mary’s and Cambridge. Cambridge was his first choice and he is now enrolled there, excited and eager to learn. He is studying to become an engineer despite the fact that he  is still quite confused as to what he ultimately wants to be doing work-wise. However,  being the pragmatic young man that he is, he decided engineering would serve as a solid degree to have regardless of what his end goal may be.

Wassim’s family are immensely proud of him. Wassim says his journey certainly took a toll on the family as his mother was always worried if he was fed well, if he forgot about them and if he would decide to marry a foreign lady! He now laughs when he speaks of those days and concerns – in hindsight he says they were silly as the experience actually had the opposite effect in his growing to appreciate home and his family while being away from them.

We wish him all the success in the future, are incredibly proud of him and cannot wait to see what he will do next!

Unique Giving

Mrs. Nada Kiblawi, our friend, supporter, donor and board member of ACME, ULYP’s sister organization, along with her husband Nazeeh, hosted an open house “Mubaraka” party for their three new born grandchildren at their residence in Great Falls, VA in November.

In her invitation to everyone she wrote:

“2016 has been for our family a year that we will always remember with joy and gratitude… we have been blessed with three beautiful and healthy grandchildren: Naji Fadi Kiblawi (January, 2016), Maya Samer Kiblawi (July, 2016) and Nora Kiblawi Mone (September, 2016). Together with our precious Tala Fadi Kiblawi (April 2013), we now have four cherished grandchildren.

Nazeeh and I would be greatly honored if you would join us to celebrate together and welcome our new family members. Please note that our grandchildren expect absolutely no gifts or flowers; but they do urge you instead, to help the more deserving Palestinian students in the refugee camps in Lebanon.

Creativity has no end with Nada!

Staying in touch, sharing a meal

Weekly dinners hosting ULYP scholarship students were re-launched during this period too. Students who received scholarships for the academic year 2016-2017 attend weekly dinners or coffee meetings during which they get to interact in small groups with Melek, members of the scholarship committee and the ULYP team. This is one of the ways we stay connected with our students and support them in facing any challenges that may hinder their path to success. Additionally, it serves as a great platform for our students to learn about the new activities at ULYP and stay connected with one another.