Before going to Lebanon for a month in June, I had some expectations about how things will be in a country that have received so far a number of refugees that equals half of the country’s residents number. I knew there will be crowded streets, busy public stations, extremely loaded transportation buses, etc.. but things over there were far from what I was expecting.
Three million Syrian refugees took place over the last couple years in Lebanon in different areas around the capital Beirut and near the Syrian borders. One of the most devastating news I received when I first got there- to be a part of an educational program that targets a small number of children- was the percentage of Syrian children in Lebanon who were receiving any kind of education what so ever; the percentage was 1%!!! I was shocked, hurt deep inside and wanted to go back to Chicago even before I got to the school where I was supposed to help 75 kids. I knew for sure that no matter what I do it will be pointless and will have no significant effect on that huge dilemma. I mean if one student out of a hundred attend school, how are we ever going to have an educated generation that believes in science, human rights, equality, and freedom to rebuild the country just the way we dream of.
Time passed by and I went to the school, got introduced to the children, worked with them for about a month and my perspective to life changed completely.
I thought I was going to teach and change lives, but it turned out that I was the one who was taught by those brilliant humans. Not only the volunteers who were not being paid a penny to provide their help as full time volunteers, coming from all around the globe-some of them are not even Syrian. I was also taught by the kids, their will to study, their belief that their current life conditions can not be barriers in front of their dreams, and that it is not made to last, gave me a sparkle of hope that enlightened my journey over there.
I am not able to shorten the things I have seen in those kids’ eyes in couple sentences, it’s not possible. They were sure that things are going to be all right, they don’t know how, they have no idea when or how, they were just so sure of it that anyone listening could believe it. And so they moved beyond their temporary crowded and unsafe houses and the catastrophic health conditions, the lack of everything! It was all small details when compared to what they had in mind for their futures.
They could change the world on a blank piece of paper with colors and pencils, after everything they have witnessed in their hometowns and on the news. After everything happened in Syria, they still could imagine a sunny portrait of their neighborhood with traditional clothes and shops, kids playing, tall buildings, birds in the sky not hiding from the sound of bullets.
After seeing all that I stood for a second in a class filled with 30 students and I thought; If they can do it, Why can’t We.
IIT School of Architecture
Expected Graduation Date:2015