Being Syrian in Lebanon, working with a refugee NGO

20 Nov

Being Syrian in Lebanon, working with a refugee NGO

You know how sometimes your emotions take over, and no matter how many times you tell yourself that your surrounded by strangers and should not cry, you just can’t help it? Well, that is how most of my co-volunteers got to know me. It was during our orientation/training day and we were going around sharing our reasons of why we chose to volunteer for SB Overseas, and I somehow managed to go last. I however was overwhelmed by the amount of love directed towards my people, towards Syrians, and I choked. I just couldn’t speak. After being used to being treated like a second class citizen for the past seven years, I wasn’t expecting so much genuine positivity from a group of absolute strangers from all around the world. That was how my journey volunteering with SB in Beirut started.

Coming into SB I wasn’t sure what to expect as an Arab speaker or as a Syrian. I can comfortably say that I’ve never felt more useful in my life than I have now. Being able to speak Arabic has given me the ability to communicate with many of the staff members here. I can’t imagine not being snuck sandwiches by them during my break time. And most importantly it allows me to connect to students in a different way. I was worried about speaking Arabic in class. What if they don’t learn? What if the Arabic becomes a crutch. Yes, my students would probably learn English faster from a non-Arabic speaker, but I like the fact that I can connect them in a way that others can’t. I like instilling in them the idea that as a Syrian, you can learn to speak English, it’s not impossible. I like showing them the possibilities they have. Maybe one of these days, one of my students will volunteer to help other people.

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