International Education for Refugee Students

Monday, 7 February 2022

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Article Published on The International Educator

By Emma Chittleburgh, Former BHS Staff

Aseel, 16, and Lujain, 15, are two Syrian teenagers from Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon who have just completed their first term at a “Top 10 Middle East School” (Spears Schools Index), Brummana High School (BHS).

The girls are part of the inaugural cohort of the Excellence Fund at Alsama’s Education Institute.  The Alsama Excellence Fund aspires to give students a chance to shine, a chance they would not otherwise have. It provides scholarships to exceptionally talented refugee students from Alsama’s teenage institutes in Lebanon to pursue secondary education at internationally recognized English-speaking schools.

Despite the current crisis facing Lebanon, the partnership between Alsama Project and Brummana High School is an example of communities coming together amidst challenging circumstances and recognizing the importance of internationalism during these times.

For Aseel and Lujain, the opportunity to participate in an international educational context has precipitated learnings extending far beyond the classroom. Aseel said, “The thing that makes Brummana High School special compared to other schools is that there are so many differences in nationalities, religions, environments, and backgrounds. At first, I felt very different to my classmates, but I later realized that these challenges are an opportunity to meet people from difference backgrounds and learn from their experiences to develop my social and academic skills.”

As members of Shatila’s first ever all-female cricket team, Aseel and Lujain have had their own shot at promoting dialogue amongst different nationalities during cricket practice on Brummana High School’s brand new, state-of-the-art artificial grass pitch. Cricket being a relatively new sport to Lebanon, both girls have been able to able to channel their previous experiences with the sport to develop leadership skills on the pitch.

Lujain’s experience at Brummana High School has similarly provided opportunities for dialogue, especially in challenging perceptions of young female refugees. She said, “This educational opportunity means that I can show the world that girls like me can do it too. We are smart and hardworking enough to be at the highest ranks. We just need to chance to prove it. Brummana is one of the best high schools in the Middle East and will help me build a bright future for me and my community.”

As the girls look ahead to their futures, Aseel is aspiring to become an English professor and Lujain a gynaecologist, they look forward to the university opportunities open to them with internationally recognized high school diplomas as they move from Alsama to BHS and take their first steps in the UK, US, or beyond.

Meanwhile, back in the Shatila refugee camp, the Excellence Programme at Alsama Project is in full swing to prepare the current cohort for international educational opportunities next academic year. With 15 hours of English classes per week and a curriculum underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the students are optimistic about what international education can offer them.  

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