We are working to foster greater understanding between youth and support English language growth for Syrian students.
Helping conflict-affected high school students improve their English to increase their future opportunities.
Increasing compassion in high school students by connecting them with peers from different backgrounds.
Providing a voice for conflict-affected high school students.
How it Works
During the year long program, high school students are matched individually to conflict-affected high school students to tutor them in English over the internet. Tutors will be given some training materials and a curriculum beforehand to use as a guide, however, tutors are urged to focus on what their students want to work on. Tutor-student pairs will meet for an hour a week. Simultaneously, tutors will meet together with their participating peers once every week or two to discuss their experiences. The purpose of these meetings is to find support among other tutors as it can be a difficult and demanding process. The tutors will also be meeting with each other to reflect. Throughout the year, clubs are encouraged to share their experiences with their schools and communities through outreach projects.
We are targeting youth in particular because we see that high school students are at a crucial point in developing their understanding of the world, and we hope that providing them with this unique opportunity to connect with someone who has had vastly different experiences will expand their view.
When during the week do tutors meet with their students?
Setting the session time is up to the tutor and the student. Tutors work with their student to pick a time that works best. Due to the time difference, tutors often find that mornings or evenings work best and often choose to tutor on the weekend.
How often do tutors and students meet? How frequently?
Tutors are expected to meet with thier student for an hour each week. This can be split into two half hour sessions.
Do tutors need to know Arabic?
Absolutely not. Most students speak some amount of English already.
Is there a set curriculum students must follow?
Tutors will be provided with curriculum materials to follow. However, we emphasize tutors working with their students to meet their individual educational goals. Often students have specific goals such as studying for the TOEFL or SAT or improving their spoken English. Tutors have the freedom to curate personal lessons plans for their student, but the curriculum is a great resource for when a tutor is stuck on what to work on.
"My name is Bouthina and I am from Syria, working as an Enlgish teacher in Reyhanli, Turkey in the 'Ataa School. Out of school I work as a volunteer to help Syrian women mentally and spriitually. We hole medical, psychological, social and education session for women in the community with the goal of helping and empowering them"
"I'm trying to do my best despite the difficult circumstances that we face to teach young girls English. Recently, the Turkish government forced us to replace our English classes with Turkish classes, which has made it very difficult for us to teach English to our students."
Ward Melville High School
Long Island, New York
In the first year of the Youth Exchange Program, ten high school students from Ward Melville High School were matched with ten Syrian students. They each met once a week on Skype, discussing their lives, their dreams, and everything in between. In the spring, the high school raised over $1,000 to purchase tablets for their students' classroom.
The 'Ataa School
The 'Ataa School is an independently run Syrian school in Reyhanli, Turkey that is addressing the lack of educational access for over 2,000 Syrian students. Many have dreams to attend universities but need high levels of English. Paper Airplanes is providing English buddies to help the students practice and improve their English, and connect them with peers halfway across the world.
"Being a tutor for Paper Airplanes has been nothing but rewarding. I have become connected with someone who, though lives so far from me, I am so close to in so many ways.”
"In tutoring Aasem, I realize how isolated my life has been. I find it’s the similarities rather than the differences in our lives that intrigue the most.”