I am the Director of Finance and Operations at the Hope for Humanity Initiative which is a collegiate community raising funds and awareness for the global refugee crisis. I am currently a third-year student at the New York University Stern School of Business pursuing a degree in Finance, Computing and Data Science.
Now that you know my background, you can understand why such a project matters to me. As a student, I can further relate to the value of an education and the future return on investment it offers. Additionally, I have been digging deeper into the refugee crisis with my team and analyzing the needs of such refugees. Considering the recent political actions, addressing the safety and development of their community is essential. They are unfortunately forced out of their country because of war, violence, or some other danger. In America, we tend to think of these camps as shields from the violence of the war, stocked with resources to aid incoming victims. Unfortunately, this is usually far from the truth. When we attended our first meeting with USA for UNHCR, we were shocked to learn about the conditions of these camps– a lack of food, water, and medicine, rampant gang and criminal activity as a result of no law enforcement, very little structured education– and yet many of these people live in camps with such conditions for decades. Many children grow up in these camps.
This leads to my questions: how can you provide education to people in refugee camps where they have a shortage of basic necessities? These people would need the most assistance in integrating into the American culture and workforce, which is your primary goal. If such a program would require relevant technological knowledge to access the online portion of the program, how can such refugees access these resources? As you mentioned earlier, they are unable to use powerpoint or the web. This could imply that the knowledge required for such a project may be too high and should be altered for people who need it and would benefit from it the most. On the other hand, I am hopeful that you will obtain partnerships and funding to reduce the financial costs of 3000 dollars annually imposed on the students.
My secondary feedback focuses on the lack of incentivization for the students. It seems evident that they are not motivated enough to participate in such a project, and this problem needs to be addressed. Maybe they are unaware of the impact such a project can have on their lives which should be communicated. It seems likely that such a project could not only change their own lives but also the lives of their communities and future generations to come. Once the initial restrictions have been removed, it has the potential to create virtuous cycles of refugees and encourage them all to participate in such programs. I support the program and am sure there will be a demand for it, but to reach out to all those it would apply to, you will need to make the refugees aware of their own intrinsic motivation and assert the value of an education.
I truly appreciate your mission and the problem you address, and therefore am inclined to help you and provide you with feedback. I wish you the best of luck in the future and hope to solve such important problems through collaboration across platforms such as OpenIdeo!
I really liked your idea. As an Indian, I have grown up in an education system that restricts creativity and freedom and this system allows individuals to develop essential skills that can help them in the future.
I do have a few questions that I would like you to address: 1) How would you encourage collaboration among students at a young age? When I was a child I did not want to step out of my comfort zone, and I remember sticking to the same friends. For optimization of outcomes in projects, you would need diversity which may be difficult to achieve. 2) Have you considered the adverse implications of making children dependent on technology? While the reliance on social media for millennials may seem to be inevitable, providing them access to their smartphones at schools will reduce their interpersonal skills and could make childhood relationships less personal.