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We at the VIP.fund spend 100% of our individual donor dollars on the youth we support; so volunteers and their time donations are crucial to our sustainability. To understand what drives our youth volunteers, we asked a number of questions; here’s what they had to say.

Volunteers and Feelings

Q. Name a feeling do you have when you see young Arab refugees your age on the news or in-person
Optimistic! The potential for a new and bright future. ~ Amir Abedrabo

I feel desperate to show the world the strength which the Arab youth carries with it on its journeys away from home. Not for validation but for inspiration. In times like these it seems refugees can hold a torch in the darkness as those who refused a fate determined for them and went in search of a better existence. ~ Mustafa Ajlyakin

actually cannot name one feeling, as when I personally see this I have a number of mixed emotions. It is difficult to see any person not being able to have their chance of gaining opportunities when you know deep down inside they are more than capable of developing in many aspects of life. ~ Feras Al Sadek

I feel a sense of privileged guilt. I have been blessed with the circumstances in my life and practice gratitude for this. I think of ways to contribute and help uplift the person I am interacting with. In an ideal world, no one would be a refugee and circumstantial equality would be the norm. By giving time, money or aid, we can inch closer to realizing that ideal. ~ Tala Odeh

Q. What compelled you to volunteer, donate, or mentor with edSeed?
edSeed makes it easy for me to transform refugees into graduates who stand on their own feet while supporting their community as productive members of the workforce. ~ Amir Abedrabo

The organization’s transparency played a vital role in my coming on board. It is a refreshing collaboration across generations and gender that can not only help others but in itself be a model to follow. ~ Mustafa Ajlyakin

I believe everyone should have their chance to do something in their life; everyone should be able to get a helping hand. It really does create a huge impact in their life. If you ever have a chance, even a small one, be sure to support in any way possible. I would advise this for everyone. ~ Feras Al Sadek

Since I was young, I’ve always been involved in social impact or community service activities. But what drew me to edSeed was different. I felt compelled to give back to edSeed because it feels familiar. I’m curious by nature and very driven to pursue academia. As a graduate with loans I know just how precious funding for higher education can be. When I think of what that must be like for refugee students, it really hits home. I want to make the dream of a degree a reality for those who have had far more challenging journeys in life. It is a gift that enabled me to seize opportunities I could only imagine and if I can give my time and money to help someone else chase that dream, I would do it every day if I could. ~ Tala Odeh

Q. What advice would you give a young Arab refugee who’s in college?
You are energetic, young, fresh and full of bright ideas; So, invest in yourself and don’t sell it short to others ~ Amir Abedrabo

Education may begin in a classroom but it does not stop there. Open your mind to the world we live in and equip yourself with the tools that are in reach in order to lay down the steps on your long journey to success. Don’t be afraid to change, to move on and build from nothing. Let your joinery to this point be your source of power, because it is a powerful one. ~ Mustafa Ajlyakin

I would advise him/her based on the same personal values that I believe in, and that is to never give up, there are many obstacles that people come to in their lives, but this should not limit them. They have to learn to push through it and come stronger. Another piece of advice would be always try to think positively, look at your past and embrace it as this will only make you stronger and more prepared for the future. Keep focusing on the future, and always take chances. Do not give up on your dreams and grasp every opportunity you can! ~ Feras Al Sadek

When you’re lost and need help, run towards your professors, not away from them. When students feel lost or overwhelmed, and work piles up or deadlines are missed, there’s sometimes an inclination to avoid confrontation for shame or fear of consequences. The more time that passes, and the more unfulfilled responsibilities rack up, the deeper students may feel they are sinking into the hole and the more difficult it may feel to catch up. But this is exactly the moment when students should reach out to their professors for help. Not all will be accommodating, but dare to take the chance that, no matter the reason for the missed work or deadline, those professors willing to accommodate will respect both the courage it takes to ask for help and the ownership of responsibility for making up what was missed. ~Salma Alshami

Don’t be silent: ask. Don’t be shy or hesitant to say, “I don’t know.” From my experience, in the Arab World, we were not taught to ask. If we didn’t understanding something in class, we didn’t speak up. We waited to go home to try and figure it out alone. But there’s no shame in not knowing, and it’s likely that there are other students in the class who also did not understand and who would benefit from your question. Likewise, you’ll also benefit from other students’ questions. And even if you ask questions, remember that you need to spend as much if not more time studying outside the class than you spend in class. ~ Amin Alhilal