Increasing Opportunities for Higher Education

The spring brought new growth for the Bridge Program. 445 currently enrolled students began their spring semester, continuing to serve as inspiration to future university applicants in their communities. Another 255 new scholarship applicants have knocked on our doors, full of hope and ready to take advantage of the opportunity that Bridge provides to pursue higher education. The Bridge team has been providing academic counseling, application support and scholarship matching in order to help these students, who come from refugee and underprivileged backgrounds, remember that everyone has the right to education.

As the number of Bridge students grows, so do the opportunities available to them. ULYP was invited to attend the Education City Regional Counselors Program (ECRCP) organized by the Qatar Foundation in January. ECRP gave the Bridge Team the chance to connect with university admissions offices, foundations and other counseling professionals in order to better support future applicants and Bridge students currently attending university in Qatar.

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UPC 2017

Bridge is currently preparing and organizing interviews for the University Preparatory Course (UPC) Program that will run in July and August. The Bridge Scholarship Committee will be interviewing 200 10th graders from different UNRWA schools as of the beginning of May 2017. With the cooperation of volunteers from the ‘Duke Engage’ program as well as university students benefitting from a scholarship from the Bridge Program, we will be able to provide 150 students with university preparation, including SAT training and university guidance this Summer.

UPC Stars!

Mohammad Akel, who completed the UPC course in 2015, is currently on a scholarship to complete his high school education at Unite World College (UWC) in the United Kingdom. Coming from Ain el-Hilwe camp in Saida, Mohammad managed, in a very short time-period, to adapt to a new life on campus and become one of the most involved students in extra-curricular activities. Recently, he was a speaker at the TEDxYouth@UWCAC. He used this platform to raise awareness on the state and struggle of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Youssef Abou El Neaj, from the Bekaa region, was also a UPC student in 2014. Like Mohammad, Yousef is also on a scholarship to study at UWC in the UK. He is currently in Grade 12 and expected to graduate this year. Yousef was always known for his dedication towards education, and outstanding personality. Both factors played a role in Yousef recently receiving his acceptance letter from Harvard University!

It brings us great such joy to see our students achieve this level of success at a very young age!

Applications

October 2016 witnessed the launch of the Bridge Scholarship website. Unlike in previous years, students in Grade 12 will here on apply for the Bridge Program online, which means that ULYP will reach a larger group of students living outside of Beirut as they can apply from the comfort of their home. We currently have around 250 scholarship applicants (and counting) from all over Lebanon. We expect to provide between 100 and 120 scholarships to students who will be studying at universities in Lebanon and abroad for the 2017-2018 academic year.

1.5 Million Dollar Donation!

ULYP is extremely pleased to announce that the Government of Qatar and the Qatar Development Fund generously donated 1.5 million dollars to support scholarships for 24 Palestinian students identified, trained and mentored by us. This fund covers their scholarships as they pursue their university education either at the American University of Beirut or the Lebanese American University. ULYP is very grateful to have received the first $500,000, which is already helping students on their path to success.

ULYP is humbled by this generous donation and is looking forward to helping more and more students reach their potential and acquire university degrees.

My ULYP Family

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Meet Abdulrahman Saddiq, one of ULYP’s BRIDGE Students, who is about to graduate with an extraordinary final year project.

“My journey started with my second family, ULYP. I joined this family in 2011, when I was seeking to get a scholarship and continue my studies at a university which provides high-quality education.  As a Palestinian refugee living in one of the camps in Lebanon, namely Baddawi Camp, this was not an easy goal, since one has to overcome many obstacles to get accepted to a good university. Despite this, I persisted in following my goal, and found someone willing to help, and to give my dream the nourishment it needs to grow up.

Eventually I decided to apply for Mechanical Engineering at LAU. At the moment I am working on my final year project, which has received a lot of attention from many people outside the university. We are working on designing an effective exoskeleton to help paralyzed people gain back their mobility. LBCI even came to LAU to report about it and interview us (see the link to the video here). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnRQDIRnI8g

This would have not been possible without ULYP.  By being part of the ULYP family you learn to become a responsible person and acquire social skills without which you can’t get anywhere else. You are responsible for keeping your scholarship, and at the same time, you socialize with students who have ideas, cultures and even religions that are different from yours.

Mr. Jalal Lahham, my donor, is the person who has inspired me through my academic life. Mr. Jalal is not just a person who covers my scholarship, but also a caring person who really wants to harvest and develop the young minds of his country. In other words, he is an inspirational leader for the whole community.

I am looking forward to continuing my studies with a master’s degree abroad. Helping the community is an important consideration for me, and innovations that are related to community services will have a higher priority for my life. However, my main aim is to build a family.”

“One of the Most Important Weeks of My Life”

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The Clinton International Summer School is held at the Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It brings together ambitious students from underserved communities in post-conflict societies from all over the world. The youth gather to learn about entrepreneurship and to be inspired to work for change in their communities.

This year, ULYP was asked to nominate two students.

Mona Hassan, now in her fourth year of studying Medicine at Beirut Arab University (BAU), was one of the lucky two. About her summer experience, she says:

It was one of the most important and productive weeks of my life and I would like to thank you a million times Mrs. Melek for this week, none of this would have ever happened without you and your faith in us.

The Clinton International Summer School offers classes in management, decision making, finance, social enterprise and marketing. Mona explains how the group engaged in discussions with more than 10 panels, which included “people with very high positions in the world of social enterprise and business, and people who reached the top although they started from nothing. It was really inspiring to see such stories”.

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Mona Hassan and four other participants in the Clinton International Summer School, receiving an award.

Encouraged to Go as Far as They Can

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On August 30th, more than 250 children from different backgrounds –Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian—gathered at a centre in Al-Baddawi camp for a day to celebrate education. The children got to know each other, play together and speak about their dreams for the future. The entire day was organized by Fouad Fayez Al Banna, a Palestinian refugee living in Tripoli who is actively involved in his community.

Fouad has been organizing many events in the Al-Baddawi camp. This time, he says: “The idea was in my mind to make something in the camp that involves the greatest number of children…Education and young people are the tool to change.”

Apart from organizing cultural and educational events in his community, Fouad studies Biology at the Lebanese American University (LAU), on an UNRWA scholarship. Through the scholarship, he has become involved with ULYP. He has volunteered as an English teacher, and was nominated by ULYP to take part in the Clinton International Summer School this year.

ULYP is my essential supporter and my second family. Here I met great people like Mrs. Melek and Mr. Salim Karroum. Here I built strong bonds with great friends.  Here I was supported to believe in myself, in my potential and dreams. ULYP taught me that dreams will come true if we work for them.

ULYP has supported a number of projects and events that Fouad has organized. The Day of Education was financed and supported by Al Najdeh association, the Global Network of Rights and Development (GNRD), and by ULYP.

Fuad Fayez Al Banna

Fouad Fayez Al Banna, LAU student and community activist

Vita Mundo

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ULYP student Mahmoud Al-Abbassi recently participated in UNICEF’s Global Challenge, creating innovative solutions to real problems faced by people living in at-risk communities around the world.

“My name is Mahmoud Al-Abbassi and I am a third year mechanical engineering student at the Lebanese American University. I became involved with ULYP in 2012 when ULYP started the first steps of SAT tutoring. I gained high grades in the Lebanese baccalaureate and I was granted a scholarship funded by Mr. Jalal Laham.

Three friends and I decided to participate in the ‘Global UNICEF Challenge 2014’. Two of my team mates, Jad Abdo and Mohammad Hammad, were also ULYP students studying mechanical engineering, and our fourth team mate, Ryan Abi, studies graphic design. The main concept of the UNICEF challenge is to innovate new solutions for the current problems in Syrian refugee camps. After many visits to the camps we realized that waste is a vital problem.

We are the ‘Vita Mundo’ Team and our project is about creating a compact fully-automated waste sorting machine that diversifies waste efficiently into five categories: iron, aluminium, glass, plastics, and organic material. In our design we are focusing on the motivation to use the machine by adding a machine that gives the user a voucher that would permit him to retain a symbolic amount of money after using the machine.

If we won the competition it would be a great chance to extend our work to make the full design of the Vita Mundo Machine and improve it because we still have new ideas to try. The winning team of the UNICEF challenge will be guided by investors to test the machine on the ground and assess success and failure. So I guess if we win everything is possible.

Our plan is to keep expanding our dreams and always seek success. My plan as an individual is to see this work progress and to keep innovating.

Thanks for your time, thanks for the support.”

Playing Football in Qatar

IMG-20131107-WA0005My name is Bilal el Assadi and I am studying mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in Qatar, where I have a scholarship from the Qatar Foundation. I have just started my 2nd semester. The first semester was really special and we all (the Palestinian students sponsored by ULYP), got to enjoy our time and scored really high grades.

I have a large friendship group, mostly Palestinians coming from Lebanon. We often stay together and help each other through the class process, and offer advice to each other when needed. One of the most  important events that we have participated in is the “HBKU Football World Cup Tournament”. We participated in the competition as the “Palestinian team”, and most of us knew how to play well – we were determined to win this championship!

Our team was made up of ten players: six main players playing on-court (of which I was one) and four substitutes. Out of these ten, there were four ULYP students, including myself. I was the only freshmen among them. The others were two sophomore students from Texas A&M: Hassan Moussa, studying mechanical engineering, and Abdul Salam, studying petroleum engineering, who played as goal keeper. The fourth ULYP player was Abd el-Karim Khattab, who is studying business administration at Carnegie Mellon University.

We didn’t win the whole competition, although we won a couple of matches. Our performance was good but not enough to bring us victory. The thing we enjoyed most about the tournament was playing together and acting as one unit to improve our team skills.

I’d like to mention that I have a lot of thoughts and ambitions for my life. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a football player. But after I grew up, I decided to keep football as a hobby and a beneficial sport, and to put all my efforts into education. Now, I dream of becoming a successful engineer who can innovate and create to serve my community and my people. Also, I would like to thank Mrs. Melek and the ULYP office members for helping me to choose the right place for me to get the knowledge I need to accomplish my dreams.

A student success story

AhmadAhmad Theibich was one of ULYP’s first ever students. He wanted to study nursing but did not have the means to pay the high fees. ULYP matched him with a full scholarship generously given by Rima Hourani to study at LAU.

My name is Ahmad Theibich and I am 21 years old. First of all I want to thank ULYP and Madame Melek for everything they did for me, studying at LAU was one of the greatest things that happened to me.

I was introduced to ULYP in 2010 and with their help, I had the chance to study nursing at the Lebanese American University. Unfortunately, I could not be a part of any volunteer activities or help out at ULYP because I had to study very hard and do clinical rotations in several hospitals. After graduating I got a job and right now I am working at the University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital as a Registered Nurse, everything is going really well. For my future, I want to travel to the United states in order to apply for a Master’s in Nursing.

The Harvest Season: Dinners for ULYP students at LAU and AUB

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AUB students about to enjoy their dinner.

20131209_171707As the tables heaved under sandwiches and burgers, the Common Room at the West Hall, American University of Beirut (AUB), was ready to welcome its young guests last Monday evening. A week before, another special dinner at Tasty took place for all the students from the Lebanese American University (LAU) who ULYP has worked with. This was the second annual dinner organized for all the ULYP beneficiaries at AUB.

With around 70 students in attendance, there was a cozy and friendly atmosphere to shake off the chilly winter air, and Madame Melek and the BRIDGE manager Ester were happy to see all the hard-working students. In fact, some are so hard-working that they had to miss the evening to prepare for end of semester and final exams. As a condition of continuing to receive financial assistance from ULYP is maintaining a high GPA, we were pleased to see that the students take their studies and exams so seriously, though saddened to miss them at the dinner. It was lovely to hear the success stories of those ULYP students in attendance, and to see how well they are settling in to university life. I chatted with Hassan, a first-year student majoring in civil engineering who, like many other freshmen at the dinner, was enjoying his new life at AUB. Not the only family member who is succeeding academically, Hassan has a brother who is studying in the United States but he told me confidently “I want to stay in Lebanon or find a job in the Gulf after I graduate.”

For Madame Melek and the Bridge Manager Ester, the greatest joy is to see the changes in the students as they succeed in their studies and became mature, confident and responsible young adults. As a testament to this, some students volunteered to assist with both dinners, while others stayed afterwards to help clean up.

Time at university teaches them not only knowledge, but also personal virtues and responsibility. We know that all ULYP’s students, both here in Lebanon and abroad, have a bright future ahead of them, and that they will use their skills to offer something back to society. One day, they will turn their academic achievement and gratitude into love and power, to help those in need and to change the world for the better.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

ULYP would also like to say a huge thank you to Alex and his team for the delicious food prepared for the AUB dinner, and  to all those who contributed to both evenings.

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LAU students tucking into burgers at Tasty.