On 27 July, the Summer Fun Weeks (SFWs) Programme held the graduation ceremony of the Student Ambassador Programme, a SFWs programme dedicated to enhancing the leadership skills of a select group of talented Palestine refugee students. Hosted by UNRWA Gaza Training Centre, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Mr. Bo Schack, head of Community Mental Health Programme Mr. David Hutton, head of Summer Fun Weeks Programme Mr. Yousef Mousa and a group of UNRWA senior staff gathered to share the joyful moments of graduation with participants.
For three weeks, 60 UNRWA students from fifth to ninth grade participated in the programme, which is aimed to empower students to serve as representatives of the UNRWA student body in local events as well as international forums. Another goal of the programme is to provide student role models who can inspire, motivate and encourage youth to excel. Students were nominated by school principals and then interviewed by area committees comprised of Student Ambassador coordinators and SFWs team.
The programme included a wide array of activities such as professional training on leadership, presentation and communications skills as well as research methodology, etiquette and stress management. In addition, each participant was required to work on a voluntary community-based project to put what they have learned into practice.
To be well-oriented with the services UNRWA provides, the participants visited a number of UNRWA installations, local human rights centres and community-based organizations, and met with the UNRWA Chief Departments. Through these activities and the professional development opportunities it provides, the programme helps its Student Ambassadors to develop skills in preparation for future events, and builds confidence and encourages personal development.
“I feel lucky to have had this distinguished opportunity to build up my skills that enable me to advocate UNRWA services and values. Throughout the training we had, my knowledge and skills significantly thrived. I hope this programme continues next year,” said Hesham Abu Leila, a 12-year-old Palestine refugee student and one of the participants in the Student Ambassador Programme. “To have the title of “ambassador” is a privilege and my main goal is to send a message of hope and peace to the whole world as the children of Gaza deserve a better life,” he added.
“Participating in this programme was such an amazing experience for me. I learned a lot, made new friends and engaged with the local community. The training, meetings and field visits developed my skills and made me closer to make my dream of being a journalist come true. We learned how to be good influential leaders with a clearer pathway to the future,” commented Bisan Madi, an 11-year-old Palestine refugee student who took part in the Programme.
From 8 to 27 July, around 190,000 registered refugee children participated in the SFWs, which took place over three cycles covering 125 locations across the Gaza Strip, including locations suitably equipped for the participation of children with disabilities. The SFWs did not only provide Palestine refugee children with a chance to alleviate the stress and pressures of daily life in Gaza, they also offered a number of Gaza youth temporary work opportunities. The 2017 SFWs project offered about 2,420 short-term job opportunities with UNRWA to registered refugees through its Job Creation Programme.