Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Teen Making a Difference

[July 15, 2011]

Teenager's initiative helps female students look towards better future

AMMAN, Jul 15, 2011 (Jordan Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A science camp initiated by a teenager is helping talented female students from the underprivileged neighbourhood of Jabal Al Natheef to realise their full potentials so they can access university scholarships.

Yara Sifri, a 17-year-old student from Massachusetts, managed to raise around JD20,000 through sponsorships by institutions and individuals to turn her idea into reality by holding a two-week SciGirls summer camp for these girls.

According to Ruba Abu Yasin, public relations manager at the Jubilee School, where the camp is being held, 44 girls between the ages of 12 and 15 from the east Amman district attend the camp six days a week to study maths, chess, electronics and robotics as well as sports and art classes.

Sifri explained to The Jordan Times that the girls selected for the camp achieved the highest grades in science subjects in their schools in Jabal Al Natheef, one of Amman's most densely populated neighbourhoods.

Sifri said she goes to the camp, which started July 6 and concludes July 17, to check on the needs of the girls and plan their daily activities.

Three teenage volunteers are helping Sifri, who said she needed the support and expertise of voluntary groups who had worked in the area to convince parents to let their daughters join SciGirls.

The Arab Foundation for Sustainable Development (Ruwwad), a group of social workers and businesspeople, has a well established relationship with Jabal Al Natheef residents through its own volunteer work in the neighbourhood over the past five years.

Sifri, a Canadian American who comes to Jordan every summer to spend her holiday with her grandparents in Amman, said she worked with Ruwwad to convince conservative parents and select the participants.

"Students who continue to achieve high grades in science topics and who can attend the camp and stay with the robotics team for three consecutive years, will get the chance to compete for a full scholarship at the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut," she remarked.

"Attending this camp gave us the opportunity to learn new things and made us determined to do well in school," one participant told The Jordan Times.

Maram Halayqa, media and communications officer at the Jubilee School, noted that the camp has motivated the girls and inspired hope among parents and the entire community that their daughters can benefit from Sifri's initiative.

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