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Teach For Lebanon Fellow Samia Habli tells her story

by Teach For Lebanon - Jan 15,2019

"I consider myself truly fortunate to have experienced first-hand the impact that an excellent education can have on the life of an individual".

Frustrated with the reality of public schools in Lebanon, I sought opportunities abroad to expand my knowledge and experience new things. Upon completing my undergraduate studies in the US, I returned to Lebanon with the intention to give back to my country. I applied for the Teach for Lebanon Fellowship because its vision and core values aligned with my own. As a United World College Alumna and TFL Fellow, I am a firm believer that education is a force that can be used to unite all people and nations to achieve a peaceful and sustainable future.

I teach biology, chemistry, and English to students from 6th to 9th grade at Al Haidareya School - a small school in a traditional and conservative town called Sarafand, in South Lebanon. From the moment I set foot in it, I thought to myself: This is exactly where I need to be right now. This is where my skills and knowledge are urgently needed.

"To my students, I am not only their English or science teacher, I am someone who is deeply invested in their well-being and success".

 Therefore, I made it a personal goal to tackle important issues such as climate change, sustainable living, violence, discrimination and tolerance. I believe in my students and set high expectations for all of them, just like my favorite educators had done for me when I was their age. I want to empower them with knowledge, skills, and confidence to love themselves, stand up to injustices around them, and take initiative to solve the issues they face no matter how big they are.

I do not have one defining moment as a Fellow, but an accumulation of small moments that reassure me that I’m making a difference in my kids’ lives: The first time my students worked in groups quietly and cooperatively, my middle-schoolers confiding in me because I “do not judge them”, being told that time passes by too quickly in my classes, a former student convincing his parents to re-enroll his sister in school, students standing up to a teacher who has been harassing them for years after our discussions about boundaries and consent gave them the tools to voice their concerns. As a Fellow, the more you invest into your students, the more you get in return. To many of my students, future goals and aspirations seem as a luxury, and continuing their education uninterrupted by relocation or dropping out of school is a privilege. Therefore, I have also focused on developing their values such as persistence, empathy, equality, curiosity, and cooperation. It is my hope that these values guide them through difficult times and drive them to always seek knowledge and self-betterment.

"To future Fellows who are hesitant to take this leap of faith, I tell you this: I’ve met and worked alongside incredible people from all over Lebanon to leave true impact in the lives of many children."

Now, I have a place to call home in every corner of the country. I have found a way to integrate what I’m passionate about (climate change and social justice) into what I teach. Additionally, being a teacher has made me more patient and organized, always having a backup plan in case things don’t work out. This experience will require a monumental amount of emotional and mental effort, but you won’t be alone. Your mentors and colleagues are there to support you, and you will emerge stronger than you were before. Being a TFL Fellow is no easy feat, but the unconditional love you receive from your students makes it all worthwhile. 

Samia Lee Habli, Teach For Lebanon Cohort 9 Fellow

Where We Work

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Number of fellows: 5

"Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world”

- Nelson Mandela -