Soubhi Al-Aryan, who now calls Austin, Texas home, knows the needs of a refugee student well. As an alumnus of the UNRWA school system, he remembers the obstacles he faced in Jordan in the 1960s. Still, he says that the environment UNRWA provided kept him focused and gave him the determination to “strive for a better life.”
Soubhi would eventually move to Kuwait and then to California where he completed a degree in civil engineering at the San Jose State University. It wasn’t an easy journey, he had to work several years before university just to pay for the plane ticket to the States. But Soubhi believes “education is essential to move forward in life” -- a value universally-shared by Palestinians. Education is what allowed him to get where he is today. And now he’s giving back.
The importance of education is a value instilled in UNRWA students by their families and by the Agency’s teachers, refugees themselves, from day one. In fact, for over 60 years UNRWA has worked to ensure that all the Palestine refugee children it serves have access to quality education to achieve his or her full potential. Having a deep appreciation for what UNRWA provided him as a young student and once the time was right, Soubhi knew he wanted to help other UNRWA students get the leg up they needed to succeed in life.
His most recent contribution to UNRWA came in the form of a brand new computer lab for Al-Jofeh Elementary Girls & Boys School in Jordan. The school, which is located in South Amman, an underprivileged area of the city, runs on a double-shift system with more than 1,300 Palestine refugee children from grade 1 through grade 5. As of June 2017, this refurbished computer lab, once obsolete, is now equipped with ten new computers, one new projector and a screen, and necessary electronic accessory items, all thanks to Soubhi.
Students like Sadine and Maya, fifth graders at the school, are thrilled to have access to this new lab.
“I like to know what lies beneath the oceans. It should be so beautiful!” says Sadine. Her favorite subject is science and she is fond of nature and animals particularly, the undersea world. Maya is interested in English language and wishes to improve her speaking and writing skills. “Listening to songs in English and following English language lessons on Youtube channels make the learning more enjoyable!”
Soubhi told us he wanted to provide refugee children with access to the latest technology, which they might not have at home. “Because the world is becoming a more globalized community, it is important for this new generation to have access to the internet and other educational tools that will enhance their future by increasing their chances of attending university and their employability.”
Soubhi chose UNRWA because of the lasting impact the Agency left on him. He knows the opportunities UNRWA has consistently provided Palestine refugees because he experienced them firsthand. Now he hopes to give that chance to others who are in the same position Soubhi was once in. He encourages us all to reflect on the opportunities given to us and to pay it forward.
You don't have to donate a computer lab to make a difference, but supporting UNRWA’s work gives Palestine refugee students, not just in Jordan, but around the Middle East, a chance at a better life.
You can find out more about what we do and how to support this work here.
Today, the UNRWA school system is one of the largest in the region, with nearly 700 schools, UNRWA teaches nearly 500,000 children each year. According to a recent World Bank report, UNRWA’s students are among the most highly educated in the Middle East.
If you are looking to make a lasting investment to impact the future for Palestine refugees, please contact Abby Smardon, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.