A Marathon Effort

What do First National Bank (FNB), American Community School at Beirut (ACS) and International College (IC) all have in common? They all ran for ULYP’s cause at the 2017 Beirut Marathon and helped make this year our most impactful to date!

Sunday 12 November witnessed 215 runners come together for ULYP’s cause at the Beirut Marathon. We want to express a huge thank you to everyone who ran for ULYP, our ACS and Bridge program volunteers who filled our cheering and water station with noise, encouragement and smiles, and FNB who sponsored our students to run. It was a truly inspiring day and one that will not be forgotten soon.

An Amazing Experience

Douaa Handam took part in the second semester of ULYP’s Skills4Life, funded by the European Union. We asked her to tell us about her experience:

Doaa

Since day one, I felt the excitement I was going to have about meeting new teachers that come from different countries or cultures and being in an amazing place with a wonderful view. Skills4Life was an amazing experience for me: I was actually waiting every Friday to come so I can take a break from my daily routine. School used to be that boring place I went to just to pass exams and get my certificates. I didn’t enjoy it at all… But the whole idea changed when my school marks started improving, especially in English, where I learned the important basics one should always remember, like verb tenses, prepositions, writing and reading skills.

By getting our school teachers motivated to come to the campus too, I started liking school even more because my relationship with them changed. And the Skills4Life teachers were more than amazing: they were all kind and friendly. They didn’t make us feel that it was just any school and that we were forced to be here. Learning with them had become something fun. On top of that, I enjoyed the art, drama and music classes we used to have. I also learned a lot from INJAZ’s sessions about personal economy and managing my future. I finally knew my future plan, who I was, who I wanted to be! The conflict resolution class my classmates and I took was also a life-changing experience. Personally, I had a few problems with my father, which caused me to fall into depression. However, I learned how to have the courage to stand on a bench and talk in front of students and teachers I didn’t know about what I like and hate with a loud voice!

My classmates and I had to make a project for the benefit of our society and I got to prove myself by presenting it in front of three judges in a real competition. Dooua 1It was my first time presenting and it was fascinating and exciting. My team’s project was “Solar House Mate”, a company that sold solar panels which gave heat and warmed water for houses.

We did this to win a real internship in a real company and that’s what I am doing: I have an internship at ULYP. I go to the campus to help the teachers in art and drama classes, and help in the office. By going through the many tasks, even if they are hard or boring, I learned how to NOT nag and moan, to be patient and fit the business world, to not be afraid to ask for help, how to listen, give my opinion politely, respect time and thought. It also taught me how to use Microsoft Office, which was really important to me. Thanks to Skills4LIfe I finally know what major I want to get into at university. I am going to study political science and journalism, which will help me fight for what I believe in, for my homeland Palestine, not with a weapon but with a pen!

It was an amazing experience that I will never be able to forget. The programs, the teachers, the sessions… everything was literally perfect. So I want to thank the Skills4Life team for their great effort. And I wish that when I finish my internship, I will be able to come back to continue my journey with them…

Meeting ULYP: A priceless experience

IMG-20140122-WA0000Time passed like an arrow in Lebanon. In the half year since I arrived, I have experienced and learned things that I will never forget, and which I will benefit from for a lifetime. Many beautiful moments will come to my mind when I recall my time in Lebanon, and among them, working with ULYP is one of the best.

As a graduate student of Middle Eastern Studies, I have studied a lot about the history, politics and society of the region, but never have I learned so much about the Middle East than since I arrived in Beirut in June 2013. The war in Syria has intensified the sectarian conflicts in Lebanon; walking on the street in Hamra, one can see handicapped Syrian children and women everywhere. Though I was amazed by Lebanon’s gorgeous landscapes, fascinated by the mountains and coastlines, wandering through the neighborhoods in Beirut also brought me sorrow and regret. Beirut is a small city, but the huge disparity between the rich and the poor areas here has struck me. The contrast between the refugee camps and the commercial center manifests some heartbreaking realities in this country. They make me sad.

And then I met ULYP. I still remember the first time I stepped into the office in the summer. It is a small place, but cozy and friendly. I was invited to lunch in their conference room, where I met the founder, Madame Melek, the director, Nicole, and all the other friends that I would be working with. That was the beginning of my time with ULYP, a great moment when everyone in the organization sat together around the table, like a big family.

I was introduced to ULYP’s different programs and went to the campus in Dibbiyeh where they are held. Working with the Lebanese and refugee youth was the greatest time I had with ULYP: teaching English to Syrian women in the MOMs program, playing and drawing pictures with Palestinian children in SAWA, talking to students with my broken Arabic and listening to their worries and ambitions… They told me about their dreams to study at universities abroad, and their hope to change the future of their communities and of Lebanon. I was deeply touched by the aspirations of these young souls, encouraged by their bravery to overcome hardship and to meet the challenges of life. I feel that I am learning from them; their language, their society, but moreover, their spirit to fight for their dreams.

I never expected that I could learn so much from ULYP and the young people it works with. I was surprised to see that some refugees of my age are mothers of several children, and that they have to take on the responsibilities not only of their own lives, but also of their family and children. There are other small moments of joy with ULYP that I will recall: when we looked at the smiling faces of the adorable children in the HAPPY program; when the SAT scores of the Bridge Program showed the improvement the students had made; when we planned  projects, bringing together creative ideas…. All of these will always stay in my mind, together with the encouragement I’ve received, and the lessons I’ve learned from ULYP.