MESA’s Academic Freedom Award 2015
The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) has recognized the nongovernmental organization Jusoor with its 2015 Academic Freedom Award.
Jusoor, meaning “bridges” in Arabic, was created in 2011 and is run by Syrian expatriates supporting the country’s development and helping Syrian youth realize their potential through various programs and initiatives in the fields of education, career development, and global community engagement.
MESA made the award on Sunday evening, November 22, 2015, at an awards ceremony held during its 49th annual meeting, in Denver, Colorado. MESA, through its Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF), cited, in particular, Jusoor’s work in Lebanon since 2013, seeking to reach as many Syrian refugee children as possible now living in that country to ensure that they are enrolled in formal education wherever possible and supporting solid educational outcomes and quality instruction.
With offices in the US and Lebanon, Jusoor works through seven different scholarships to help Syrian students looking to complete their studies abroad at top universities across the US, Canada, Europe and Middle East. It partners with, among others, the International Institute of Education, the Said Foundation, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, which has accepted more Syrian students than any other US institution recently.
“The need for more involvement to support education for Syrian students is increasingly urgent in response to the current crisis,“
said Maya Alkateb-Chami, Director of Jusoor, accepting the award on behalf of the organization.
“We believe that this support contributes to capacity building for the country and its peoples in the long run, in addition to helping individuals continue their education despite the emergency. Academia and academic institutions have a unique role to play and an opportunity to exemplify leadership on a global level.”
“With more than half of the 4 million Syrian refugees under the age of 18, there is an pressing need to focus on their educational opportunities,” said Laurie Brand, Chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom, on presenting the award. “Jusoor has responded to the humanitarian crisis with effective outreach and programs that engage a generous volunteer base and are making a real difference in the lives of young Syrians. CAF is proud to present our Academic Freedom Award for 2015 to Jusoor.”
CAF noted the following in recognizing Jusoor:
“In support of its different scholarship programs, Jusoor also offers academic advice through its Study Abroad Mentorship Program. The initiative is focused on connecting expatriate Syrians and volunteers with students both in Syria and among those recently displaced outside the country to provide coaching and mentoring regarding academic study abroad. Students receive guidance from their mentors on such varied topics as college admissions procedures and the application process, fields of study and campus life, anticipated living expenses, as well as how to write a personal statement or apply for a visa.
Colleagues of ours who are familiar with Jusoor uniformly characterized it as the most professional and effective of the NGOs assisting Syrian refugees with pursuing their education.”
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a private, non-profit, non-political learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world. From its inception in 1966 with 50 founding members, MESA has increased its membership to more than 2,700 and now serves as an umbrella organization for more than sixty institutional members and thirty-nine affiliated organizations.
The Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) seeks to foster the free exchange of knowledge as a human right and to inhibit infringements on that right by government restrictions on scholars. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provide the principal standards by which human rights violations are identified today. Those rights include the right to education and work, freedom of movement and residence, and freedom of association and assembly.