Michael Carl Budd
Working as a Scholar Rescue Fund program officer at the Institute of International Education (IIE), I learned from colleagues about Jusoor’s extraordinary commitment to helping Syrians of all ages pursue quality education in the face of formidable challenges. Run by Syrians, for Syrians, Jusoor is remarkable for its ability to rise above sectarian and political divides and its competency in building a highly effective international network of donors, mentors, volunteers, and supporters.
Now here in Lebanon, volunteering at Jusoor’s Beqaa Center, I experience firsthand the network of relationships that the organization is founded upon. Jusoor’s teachers and administrators are fueled by compassion, dedication, and no small amount of humor.
It’s hard to know what kind of impact our three weeks together will have on the six to ten-year-olds in our classes, but whether we’re taking a field trip down to the river, illustrating aerodynamics with paper airplanes, or learning to talk about Syria in English (or America in Arabic), these students, my Syrian co-teachers and I are bridging gaps in language and understanding of one another’s culture with fun, patience, and mutual respect. Animal noises are also vital. With so much uncertainty surrounding the future of these kids’ education, it’s hard to not want to try to pack some kind of profound life lessons in, but at the end of the day, being present and open to them with the help of my amazing co-teachers is the best I can hope to offer. That and encouraging you to join in and remain committed to efforts to ensure kids displaced by conflict have access to high-quality education at all levels. From near or far, we can all play a role in laying a foundation for bright futures for Syrian children.