“Do not give up regardless of whatever difficulties you pass through.”

GEM Lebanon student Aya shares her experiences learning during the country’s ongoing financial crisis.

Today, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and around 20,000 refugees of other origins, in addition to 470,000 Palestine refugees and nearly 29,000 Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria.

Alongside the refugee crisis, conditions in Lebanon have been dramatically declining as the country faces an ongoing financial and political crisis. 

For SNHU Global Education Movement (GEM) students studying in Lebanon, earning a degree is an important step to building a better future. In recognition of the current challenges for students living, working, and studying in Lebanon, we wanted to share reflections from our students. Aya, who is currently pursuing her AA in healthcare management with plans to also earn her BA, shares her experiences living in Tripoli, Lebanon.

How would you explain the current crisis in Lebanon to people elsewhere in the world?

We are suffering from an economic crisis and unemployment. The Lebanese lira has no value in front of the American dollar. As prices increase, our incomes do not support basic needs. There are high prices for transportation and gas shortages that lead to difficulty moving around. We are suffering from a lack of medicine and other basic needs. Because of limited availability for oils and fossil fuels, there is limited available electricity and internet. 

What is it like to be living, working, and studying in Lebanon right now?

On studying: It is so hard and sometimes it seems impossible because of the internet and electricity that are not always available. Because of the coronavirus, it has also been challenging to interact with teachers, especially when students are struggling to understand or when they have questions in their minds. At the same time, not all students have mobile, tablets, or laptops to ensure they’re able to complete their online learning. 

For me as a student studying is easier. I absolutely face difficulties, but because I have my laptop (UNRWA gave one to all the student)  my situation is like any other student who is studying online during COVID-19.

On life: People are scared because there is no safety. People cannot meet their basic needs because of the increase in prices, and there is no guarantee of medical resources for the elderly. for me as a residence in Lebanon, I live day by day without knowing what is gonna happen in the coming days  

On work: Unemployment. The workers spend a long time in the workplace, but there is no guarantee they’ll get the salary or wages they deserve. People are living day to day without knowing if they will be able to bring food for their kids the next day. There is psychological pressure. Until now, I am a student so I do not have work experience; but absolutely, I am scared because I do not know if I will find a job or not after I graduate with the BA 

Why is higher education important for you? Why are you pursuing your studies through SNHU GEM?

My education is my only weapon to build a successful future. I work hard every day to develop myself and gain as many skills and as much expertise as possible. Higher education is my only way to travel and to find appropriate work with an acceptable salary and guarantee 

What advice would you give other students living, working, and learning in challenging circumstances?

I know it is so hard, but we can get through this time with hard work — it is our only way to improve our future. Do not give up regardless of whatever difficulties you pass through. Do not give up on your dreams. your dreams are your weapon