Day 11: Wednesday, 31 July, 2019
Kyle Costa, United States
We are officially half way through, which is so hard to imagine! It seemed like just yesterday I was coasting over the waters of the Mediterranean and landing at al-Hariri. This is the second time I have been to Lebanon. Last summer, I studied Arabic at AUB for about three months or so. It felt pretty surreal walking the streets of Hamra again, noticing all of the similarities and changes that have occurred in a year’s time.
This year, my time here has changed a lot. Last summer, I studied Arabic and discovered al-Jusoor through my Arabic program. Students in my program were partnered with Syrians learning English. I was partnered with a man named Noor. Each week we would meet once or twice for tea or coffee in Hamra and try to carry on a conversation. My program also took us out to one of Jusoor’s schools for a day where we were able to see some of the work Jusoor does. Out of all of the weekend excursions my Arabic program did, that was my favorite. After visiting the school, I wanted to learn more about the Syrian crisis in Lebanon and how Jusoor was making a difference. This past spring, while I was continuing my Arabic studies in Jordan for the semester, I applied to be a summer volunteer with Jusoor.
Halfway through my time here, I can say that the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon has become very real to me. Before volunteering, outside of my weekly conversations with Noor, I had only read about the situation. Although it has only been a week and a half volunteering in the physical classroom, I feel that I have greatly improved my understanding of the situation here in Lebanon for Syrians. Despite that, I also feel like I have only begun to realize the depth and breadth of the situation for Syrians who face these challenges on a daily basis.
I think one of the biggest take away so far for me has been how important continuing education for these children is. I hate to think of what the future will look like for them without a continued access to education. They are the future minds that will represent and rebuild Syria. I did a “dream drawing” activity where I asked the kids to draw what they wanted to do in the future. Almost every single kid either wanted to go to university of being a teacher. From that day forward I realized that the biggest tool people can give these kids is education.