Ahliah School gave me a very special opportunity to initiate my career as an educator and to assume the role to which I will dedicate my future work and career. As a Lebanese student, transferring from a public (k-9) school in the north to Aliah then going to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a UWC student followed by attending college in the States, I believe that most of my experience comes from being a student that is always adapting to new systems but also has a huge passion for teaching and directing a classroom. Education is a field I’m trying to learn and expand my knowledge in, which was my primary objective in working as a teacher and social worker at Ahliah School.
Ahliah school is situated in the heart of old Beirut. It was established in 1916 as a not for profit private school. It’s a continuously developing school that is working hard to sustain its position among the finest academic institutions. For instance, it recently joined the council of international schools. This school is rich in history and its walls have witnessed many battles from the civil war, yet it has resisted and continued to educate many generations. This school is very unique. There is a community between the students and the faculty that is born from a mutual passion for education and success. Its mission statement is to develop young minds to their best abilities, while nurturing self-confidence, respect, compassion, creativity, a joy for learning and working collaboratively within a diverse environment.
When I started working at Ahliah, my position was teaching assistant and volunteer. However, I found myself in a place that acknowledged and admired my work and character, and in a very short time I was teaching an epistemology course (Theories of Knowledge) to 11 and 12 grades. I taught Theories of Knowledge based on my experience learning about epistemology in IB at UWC. I was also doing multiple other projects as well, including my own investigation and research on the Lebanese curriculum and class dynamics as part of my plan at Bennington that revolves around pedagogy and educational development. Aside from my role in my own classroom and studies, I was assisting in selected biology and arts classes, and substituting for teachers to have discussions with students on social-awareness. Observing classes was a great experience for me to be in a classroom and assume both the roles of student and teacher. I was able to notice limitations on student’s curiosity due to the teacher’s adherence to the curriculum. So I used my class, Theories of Knowledge, as a platform to have discussions with students about topics they felt were important but never had the opportunity to discuss due to the curriculum and pressure of national exams.
In addition, I was able to conduct three presentations that were scheduled in a period where more than two classes could attend. My first was about applying to colleges and universities abroad. I was able to tell them about my experience in the pursuit of education, and of the journey I went on to make it to Bennington. I explained the criterias of looking up colleges and selecting the ones they wish to apply for, by showing them Bennington College’s campus, classrooms, and all the things that made me apply and go there. I also had additional information on multiple countries, different systems, required documents. My second presentation was on academic honesty and tackling schoolwork. It was a type of education awareness on the responsibilities of a student and the structure of the curriculum. I had a different approach in doing this social work than as an instructor at school, with my display of graphics to portray ideas and suggestions. The main reason why I did this presentation is due to my belief that students lack orientation to their required work and the skills taught by schools in Lebanon.
My third presentation was on racism. Students in Lebanon are influenced by their peers and the society, for them making racist jokes is just a part of conversation. I approached them by talking about Disney movies, particularly about Aladdin, and the ways in which Arabs are portrayed by Disney. It was a discussion on a topic that is very necessary to have with students, because the job of a school is to address social issues present in the community, especially during the rise of refugees and immigrants coming from Syria.
In addition, I was able to participate in the extra-curricular activities that I was passionate about when I went to Ahliah.I directed a group of students who were participants in the Model United Nations Conference organized by the Lebanese American University. MUN demands public speaking skills, knowledge in its rules and procedures, and further research on the topics held in the councils. I created a syllabus for the training that I felt would help the students learn more effectively by showing them the product before they are tasked to do it themselves and using visual display of their required material. I also led a group of students who were participating in a program run by UNESCO on the integration of refugees. Their aim was to make a two minutes video on the topic. Finally, I was a part of the Injaz group. Injaz is a virtual company program that aims to give students the opportunity to start their own company, divide roles, sell virtual stocks to get their capital money, and make a product that they have to promote and sell. I had participated before as a public relations and marketing manager. As an instructor, I joined the Injaz group and was able to share my experience, tips, and suggestions to make their work better and help them win competitions.
At the time I was there many of Lebanon’s neighboring countries were affected by the US Muslim Ban and I had to return to the States to avoid any risk regarding lebanon getting included on the list. I wasn’t able to give my presentation to the teachers, which was aimed to show them the different educational systems that I studied, their pros and cons, and how the Lebanese educational system can be improved.
My work at Ahliah matched their objectives and mission statement regarding the sense of social activism and awareness that they want to give their students, in addition to encouraging interns to follow their passions and do what they can succeed at. Working at Ahliah gave me an on-field experience towards my future career and it showed me the success of the different models I created in the field of teaching and educational development. I was involved in discussions about curriculums and teaching methods before taking any education course in college. My passion towards all the topics made me more confident in my work. Living the life of a teacher and a social worker was great in the sense that I was able to adapt to its lifestyle, the working hours, the relationship with students, and encounters with teachers. These were all very beneficial for me to build up experience in how my life will be shaped after I take this as my future career.