2014 marks the final year Inspire Dreams will be in operation. It has been a pleasure serving youth over the past 7 years. We are indebted to the kindness and generosity of our donors, supporters, volunteers, and partners. While the organization will no longer exist, as individuals we will continue to support the higher education efforts of our former students.
--The Inspire Dreams Team
Inspire Dreams has decided after much deliberation not to hold summer programming in 2014. We regret the inconvenience this causes to our partners in Palestine and to those who were interested in applying to the program.
Due to the timing of Ramadan in July of this year, Inspire Dreams has decided after much deliberation to postpone recruitment of new volunteers for summer programming. Upcoming variations of programming will rely on former volunteers interested in returning to continue their work from previous summers. Those fellows and volunteers will run 5-weeks of programming and lead self-designed projects in June and the until the beginning of Ramadan around July 8, including Camp "I Have a Dream" and the "Youth Leadership Academy."
This does not mark the end of our traditional summer public service program, but rather reflects a situational and organizational reality around the month of Ramadan for this year. If you will be in Palestine this summer and are interested in being part of the programs as a workshop leader, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We regret the inconvenience this causes to those who were interested in applying to the program, and look forward to working with you in future years.
This summer Inspire Dreams will send four students to live and work in Palestine for the summer 2012 Public Service program to plan Camp "I Have a Dream", the Youth Leadership Academy, teach English, lead various workshops, and live in and work with the community.
Now, we're pleased to introduce those we've selected as our 2012 Summer Public Service Volunteers! It was a very difficult process and we are excited by the team we have created!
Click here to meet them!
A video of our 2010 Summer Public Service Program can be found here: Inspire Dreams: Summer Public Service Program - 2011
The application to the 2012 Inspire Dreams Summer Public Service Program is now open!
The program will send college and graduate students from American and international universities to live and work in refugee camps in the West Bank.
For eight weeks during June and July, volunteers will teach English, lead self-designed workshops, help plan and implement the "Youth Leadership Academy" and assist local cultural centers with their activities.
Please explore the site for reflections from last year's volunteers and for biographies of former volunteers.
The main page of our Public Service Program can be found HERE.
Applications are due Feb. 29th, 2012.
You can access and complete the application HERE.
In remarks delivered to a crowd of over 6,000 at Tufts University, President Bill Clinton spoke of the impact Inspire Dreams programming is having on the ground. The Clinton Global Initiative has supported the work of Inspire Dreams since 2009.
It is truly a remarkable day for Inspire Dreams, and we thank everyone who works hard everyday to make it possible.
Reflection Four: Teaching an English Class written by volunteer John Choi
The friends that Dana and I taught in our Level 2 English class were Thaer, Sameh, Fadi, Mohammad, and Mahmoud. All of them are in their early or middle twenties and have a strong desire to improve their English proficiency. It was encouraging and inspiring to see these five young men want something so badly, and take steps to improve their lives. I want to help people who want to help themselves. I realized this is where I can make a difference. Help Thaer, Sameh, Fadi, Mohammad, and Mahmoud learn English in order to increase their opportunities for a better standard of living. But something that is even more invaluable than the English language proficiency is the relationship that I built with each of these young men. The friendship I developed with each of them is priceless and eternal.
Sameh in my English class was such a great and diligent student. I was really impressed by his punctuality and his eagerness to learn English. His eagerness and willingness to learn made me want to be a better teacher. He was always the first one to show up to class. He always had a smile on his face even if he was tired from working all day with construction and tiling. Sameh has a good heart, and he is so gentle and kind-hearted. He makes sure the class stays in line if they start talking a lot or if they get noisy and Dana and I need their attention.
Reflection Three: Life in Refugee Camps as an American Volunteer written by volunteer Mark Rafferty
It's rather remarkable how at home I felt in Jalazone Camp. By appearances, it was the most foreign place I could imagine, but as I settled into life in the camp and got to know the people there, I found that in many ways it was just like a small town anywhere else: close knit, friendly, full of gossip, and warmly hospitible to newcomers.
Every time I stepped out the door of the house onto the dusty, unpaved road that leads down the mountain to the Karama Center, a new learning experience awaited me. The people that I met on the streets of Jalazone were curious about where the strange looking foreigner was from, and just about every block I walked, kids and adults alike would stop me and ask me where I was from. At times, we'd share a quick exchange in Arabic and move on, but when there was free time, I loved sitting with young people on street corners and getting to know them. I didn't speak their language terribly well, but somehow, it was always the children who communicated best with me. They'd ask me about life in America, and I'd tell them in broken Arabic about my town, my family, and my culture. We'd sing songs together, and I would try making jokes in Arabic, which usually failed miserably. At times, we'd talk about religion and the relationship between Religion and Islam; maybe our conversations went so well because their basic understanding of the topics matched perfectly with my basic vocabulary. I also took the time to get to know the adults of the community, which was easy enough given that the men sitting on the sidewalk drinking tea were almost always issuing invitations to sit and talk. In the coffee shops and in the internet cafes, I learned about the political currents in the camp and the people's aspirations for the future, and I got a fuller picture of what it means to be a Palestinian refugee.
Reflection Two: Camp “I Have a Dream" written by volunteer Tasneem Haloum
Here we were again, ready to launch yet another week long program in both the New Askar and Jalazone Refugee Camps. We had recently spent several weeks running a summer program for younger children in Jalazone, so I was excited to work with younger youth as well as visit a different refugee camp. This time our mission was to run Camp “I Have a Dream” which focuses on teaching leadership skills, teamwork and self-expression through creative means.
Our first stop was the New Askar camp in Nablus. We arrived early the first day of the camp only to find several kids already waiting for us. Many of them were returning students from past summer camps and I could tell they were all eager for this year’s camp. The moment we arrived they immediately began introducing themselves and trying to get to know each of the volunteers.
Click below to read more!
Reflection One: Youth Leadership Academy written by volunteer Dana Alasker
Our two weeklong Youth Leadership Academy programs were the deﬁnitely the fulﬁllment of all the things I had been looking forward to and anticipating in the weeks leading up to my arrival in Palestine. The ﬁrst one kicked off on a bright morning in the Phoenix Center of Dheisheh Camp outside Bethlehem in early July, as kids nervously trickled in wearing their bright yellow “Inspire Dreams” shirts. By the time we were ready to get going, we had about 20 boys and girls aged 13-17, and ten counselors including a combination of Inspire Dreams interns and volunteers from the local community. The Inspire Dreams interns were paired with local counselors so that we could exchange ideas and form friendships, and I was lucky enough to be paired with Haneen, who is a few years older than I am and is from Dheisheh. She was indispensable to me throughout the week, acting as a cultural guide, translator, and friend.
Our ﬁrst day of Youth Leadership Academy largely consisted ofice breakers and get-to-know-each-other games such as “Where the Wind Blows” and a human knot, but once we had gotten past the initial nervousness and were acquainted with one another, things got started and didnʼt stop. The week was a whirlwind of fun and learning, including everything from memory games, leadership tasks, and staged ethical dilemmas, to skit performances, origami, and a traditional Lincoln-Douglass style debate.
Nour and Loreen laugh as we attempted to untangle our Human Knot on day one