Student Spotlight: Aya

Student Spotlight Aya

Aya joined the Change program a shy but independent and hard-working individual with the ambition to go to university and become a successful Arabic-English translator. However, with school being over and exams still a few months away, her lack of confidence in English made this dream feel out of reach. The program’s joint focus on English language and Bacc II English preparation re-kindled her determination to chase her dream. Aya took the program as an opportunity to discuss both her academic difficulties and her reservations about her future with Change teachers. She was never afraid to ask teachers for help and to cover specific topics she was struggling with.

So strong was her ambition that she took extra Change sessions and completed over 110 hours of the program, more than any other student. Her confidence grew as did her resolve, and with the support provided by Change, she is once again motivated to pursue her dream of becoming a translator.

“I was studying all the days of the week and always tired, but the days I was going to ULYP I felt comfortable. The program gave me a new energy, and I was benefiting at the same time: studying for the Bacc II and acquiring a new language. All of this really helped me! Change is the best program I have ever seen, it gave me a lot of self-confidence and experiences with new people and new friends.”

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Volunteer Spotlight – Mira Rahm

Volunteer Spotlight Mira

Mira has been a very active and enthusiastic volunteer with ULYP, dedicating her time to the Together Let’s Code (TLC) program. She has shared with us her experiences as a volunteer, particularly when looking at how online images can affect body image and self-confidence:

“When I first joined the program, I was asking myself about the importance of these sessions in helping young girls entering the digital world. Whether the girls would be interested in discussing “body image” and “self-confidence” at this young age, and how to convince them that being healthy is more important than being perfect.

I AM WORTH IT!

Shortly after starting my first session, I was amazed by all the energy and interaction present in the classroom. We started our activities and discussions with the sole objective of turning the negative thoughts about ourselves into positive ones, turning flaws into unique traits. We concluded that being healthy by exercising and eating well is far more important than being perfect and looking like the girls in the magazines.

GIRL POWER!

The best part was sharing our dreams and respecting those dreams regardless of all the barriers imposed by the society, especially on girls. Girls are here to lift each other and boost their confidence. Sparkling eyes and heart-warming smiles when talking about dreams and giving each other positive comments were my biggest reward!”

Bridge Student Success Story: Darin Yassine

Darin Certificate

On the 8th of August, our founder Melek Nimer and the ULYP Bridge team received a letter from one of their students, Darin Yassine.
“I am writing with so much respect, gratitude, and warmth in my heart. I am writing to whole-heartedly thank you for being such a great person and taking such a huge part in my short story of success.”
After completing her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Darin was determined to pursue the Doctor of Pharmacy degree but needed financial support for the tuition fees. Darin searched high and low for someone to fund her dream. Her drive and hard work led her to the president of LAU, Dr. Joseph Jabbra, who referred her to Mrs. Nimer and ULYP.

“I can say, genuinely, that my determination, thrive, and limitless hope were born at first when I met Mrs. Nimer.”

Through Dr Jabbra, the ULYP family and other kind-hearted donors, Darin received enough money to attend the University course she had hoped for. Thanks to Darin’s extraordinary commitment, and the support she received, she she was able to enrol on the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the Lebanese American University. In July 2018, Darin graduated from LAU with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree with distinction.

On top of all this, on March 2018, Darin was accepted for a 12-month international post-graduate Year-1 residency at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, among 30 other applicants. She is therefore able to practice as a clinical pharmacist while she continues her educational growth.

“As I am starting a new chapter in my life, I thank God from the bottom of my heart that each of those exceptional individuals crossed my path, and gifted me an eternal hope in tomorrow-which I will hold in my heart forever. At this moment in time, I am counting my blessings. I am also feeling immense excitement for the next challenge.”

This was such a wonderful letter to receive; a perfect example of the positive attitude, exceptional intellect, hard work and inspiring optimism shown by the youth in Lebanon; and a reminder of how important ULYP’s work can be.

Volunteer Spotlight – Claire Diederichs

As we made our way to ULYP’s campus in Dibbiyeh for my first day volunteering with HAPPY, I realized that I had no idea what to expect or whether the few words of Arabic I had mastered would actually get me through my first day of preschool. By the time we arrived on campus, I was beset with questions like: What if no one likes me? What if I do something embarrassing? What if I forget the Arabic words I learned?

With my anxiety rising, I nervously entered the classroom only to see 25 children’s faces all laden with the very same expression as mine. As each of us looked around the room, recognizing ourselves in one another, we became united and I started to notice courage replacing the looks of doubt. I sensed the eager excitement in the room growing as the nervousness slowly disappeared, and before I knew it, as we all joined hands to sing the hokey-pokey. Any worries I had before were replaced by feelings of opportunity and hope.

Now, I wake up every morning confident that it will be another HAPPY day, motivated by the smiles on the children’s faces as they have fun learning and exploring. I am halfway through my time volunteering on ULYP’s HAPPY Program, yet I already find myself struggling to imagine returning to my ‘pre-HAPPY’ life in the UK.

ULYP Recognition

The recent months have been filled with awards and recognition of ULYP’s practice. These act as significant validation that ULYP’s mission statement and methodology are well intertwined and that our interventions are valuable, effective and appropriate.

“Receiving the TAKREEM Special Distinction Award… means you agree that doors need to be open to all underserved and that respect has to be expanded to the marginalized, but most importantly that everyone should have the right to education” said Melek El Nimer, ULYP Founder, on receiving the award this November.

Melek El Nimer received three special awards and distinctions this fall for her humanitarian work and impact at ULYP. In the name of ULYP, Melek was awarded the Outstanding Humanitarian Award by the Arab American Association, the Outstanding Efforts “For Humanity” Award at the 8th Bosphorus Summit and the TAKREEM Special Distinction Award for continuing to play “a key role in shaping a better perception of Arabs worldwide and in inspiring present and future generations.”

Best Practices Disseminated

“Childhood belongs to children and it is our responsibility to make sure every child, including the marginalized and refugees, lives her and his childhood.” This is how Nicole Eid Abuhaydar, ULYP Executive Director, concluded her talk at the Arab Conference at Harvard in November. Nicole sat on the ‘Empowering the Next Generation’ panel at Harvard, disseminating the best practices of ULYP’s HAPPY program and suggesting ways to take this program to scale.

While in Boston, Nicole also addressed students of the Peace and Justice Studies Department at Wellesley College. She spoke about her personal journey with education, how she leverages education for social development and the models of intervention implemented at ULYP. “Schools and universities are not enough to meet the growing needs of society. There are too many underserved and working children, unemployed youth and disempowered women.” She encouraged the Wellesley students to ask the right questions when looking for solutions “You are the future, and you can make a difference starting today!”

Such recognition and opportunities to spread our message are humbling to receive and we are increasingly inspired and motivated to expand our reach and impact into the new year.

A Little Opportunity Goes a Long Way

If technology is not just the way of the future but of the present, it is crucial that youth and women in Lebanon have the opportunity to gain the skills needed succeed in today’s innovative economy. Maharat, funded by Microsoft Lebanon, creates this opportunity by providing trainings in computer basics, digital literacy, coding, entrepreneurship and social media. ULYP has provided customized Maharat trainings in coding to 150 youth and has also provided the opportunity for 60 women to engage in a full six-week program of computer basics, digital literacy, entrepreneurship and social media.

Bridge Star – Awad, Alumni

Our Bridge graduates continue to amaze us with their talent, drive and passion. After graduating from Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2016 with a BA in Communication Arts, Awad, recipient of a scholarship from the Bridge Program, directed and produced “Ayoube”, a play that was shown at Metro Al Madina in Hamra, Beirut over the summer.

The play highlights the struggles of Palestinian women in refugee camps in Lebanon, inspired by the stories Awad was told by his grandmother, Ayoube. The play tells the story of her struggle to survive and raise her children without compromising their education and well-being.

The play was well received and was such a success that the team was requested to perform twelve more shows in Metro Al Madina and one in Saida. There is no doubt that Awad’s creativity and vision will fuel many more minds and hearts! We can’t wait to see what Awad’s future holds.

Another Journey Begins

Bags unpacked, new friendships formed and exams around the corner – 131 Bridge students are nearing the end of their first semester at 31 universities in 10 countries. This new phase in their journey as Bridge students is off to a good start and ULYP is proud of them.

This journey is just about to begin for the next cohort of Bridge University Scholarship Program students. The ULYP team has been visiting schools and university fairs across Lebanon to reach out to qualified and deserving students. We have met driven and passionate students aspiring to continue their education. ULYP can’t wait for them to apply, begin their Bridge journey and grow and develop into the students and people they should have the opportunity to be.

Student Spotlight – Ibtissam, Maharat and MOMs

“English is the universal language; it is necessary to learn, and two years ago I did not know any of it, not even the letters. Because of ULYP I learned English. I learned how to introduce my self and how to get to know others. In the last two years I attended two programs at ULYP, MOMs and Maharat. During the programs, I attended several workshops about personal well-being. I also learned about entrepreneurship during the Maharat program with Microsoft and ULYP. I recognize that the lectures have increased my awareness and understanding on the psychological and social level. They also prepared me for the responsibilities of being a great housewife, and how to be an ideal mother.

The programs also taught me that I can follow my dream of becoming a journalist while being a mother.

Thank you ULYP for everything. Thank you for embracing me and holding my hand through difficult times. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to extend my education.”